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Clarence Valley Council (CVC) Mayor Ian Tiley and Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway cut the cakes during a special celebration on July 24 to commemorate the famed Grafton Bridge turning 90. Image: Ross Pritchard

Grafton Bridge turns 90

Emma Pritchard

 

It was a birthday celebration that brought families, friends, and dignitaries together during an historic occasion at McClymont Reserve in Grafton on July 24, as they showed their appreciation and shared their stories about one of the most iconic landmarks in Northern NSW.

Officially opened by the Governor General of Australia Sir Isaac Isaacs on July 19, 1932, the Grafton Bridge united communities on both sides of the Clarence River and linked the North Coast rail line between Brisbane and Sydney.

Referred to by locals as the bendy bridge, it was an incredible feat of engineering, and it remains the only double deck, road and rail structure of its kind in the state.

And a large and enthusiastic crowd proudly attended its 90th birthday celebrations on the weekend.

The ceremony commenced with a traditional welcome to country by proud Bundjalung woman Auntie Midge Bancroft, followed by a minute’s silence in memory of Auntie Irene Daley, a beloved Bundjalung and Gumbaynggirr elder who sadly passed away last week.    

Describing the landmark turning 90 as “a wonderful milestone”, special guest the Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway spoke of the historical aspect of the Grafton Bridge, and the many social economic benefits it delivered to the Clarence Valley.

The Minister also happily revealed he walked across the Grafton Bridge for the first time on the weekend, having driven across it on several previous occasions.

Many Clarence Valley residents celebrated the Grafton Bridge turning 90 on the weekend. Image: Ross Pritchard

“It has stood the test of time, and it has united the community through good times and bad,” he said.

Listening in the crowd was 93-year-old Clarence Valley resident Peter Lindeman, who attended the official opening of the Grafton Bridge with his mother in 1932.

While Mr Lindeman recalls vague memories of the event, he said there is one poignant moment which he has never forgotten.

“On the drive home, my mother remarked on what a wonderful day it had been, and she said we would always remember it for the rest of our lives,” he said proudly.

During the celebrations, Clarence Valley Council (CVC) Mayor Ian Tiley said he was proud to see the community come together to celebrate the momentous occasion.

“Perhaps we can start the ball rolling and freshen up the Grafton Bridge ahead of the centenary celebrations in 2032?” he asked the Minister.

The ceremony concluded with the cutting of two specially made cakes before attendees joined together and sang happy birthday.

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