This road is gaining a number of new edges as it ramps up in preparation for the span of a new bridge.
The Road’s Edge rules are simple. Stand on one side of the road, look directly across, ensuring the edge of the road runs along the edge of the frame. The aim of this photographic series is to explore, highlight, record issues that seem to gain significance by their position on the edge of a road. To the signature image, add whatever additional viewpoints you feel contribute to the story. I’ve added a few in this post.
The road between Forbes and Cowra runs through Gooloogong. At this point, I usually turn off, take the bridge across the Lachlan River and head towards Eugowra. It’s a short cut, reducing the trip to Parkes by about 20 minutes.
I’ve been travelling across this bridge for the last 25 years. It seems its days are now numbered. I’m sentimental.
Some interesting history
Reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on 17 August 1900, a deputation of local politicians and residents approached the Minister of Works to ask for a bridge across the Lachlan River. The bridge was completed in 1904.
It’s a bridge of historical significance, but it’s expensive to maintain. You can see where some timber trusses have been replaced by steel. The creation of a new bridge seems essential, and some think removal is inevitable.
Perhaps they could open it to foot traffic? A tourist attraction? There will still be some ongoing maintenance costs, but significantly reduced because there will be no more heavy vehicles. A bridge that has been in operation for 109 years must reveal some amazing social history. A comparison of the building plans of 1904 with those for the new bridge would be illuminating. But I’d be more interested in the changing approaches to maintenance, how problems were solved, how the engineering and serviceability of this structure evolved over the years.
If you are interested, there is a general history of timber truss bridges in NSW on the AHSET website – Australian Society for History of Engineering and Technology.
I stopped to take the first photo in December 2012 because it was evident that something was going to happen. Trees had been cleared from one side. This made capturing the length and height of the bridge easier, but such images do not capture my experience of driving across it. Check out the photo (by Matt) from 2011 on Flickr. It shows the bridge before the tree clearing started.
You will have to imagine how tentatively some approached this crossing, with the canopy so close and the ground dipping away so quickly, the water rushing below (or not as the season dictated), the unevenness of the boards, the rise and fall of the road surface …
The image below was taken in December 2012.
I wonder what image this spot will produce in December 2013?
Someone replied to this post, pointing out one of the colloquial names given to the bridge over the years. The author suggested I might not want to publish the comment as the colloquial name would now be considered offensive. The bumby ride across gave rise to a number of names that I wouldn’t want to publish, even though the usage at the time was probably intended as humour (of a sort). However, when the social history of the bridge is compiled, I hope these names will be included and not written out of memory. History should not gloss over who we were, even when we were not particularly nice. I hope the decline in usage of these derogatory terms is a marker of our change for the better.
Indeed, it was only when researching this post that I found out, after 25 years, that it’s official name was Holman Bridge. Up till then, it’s been the “bridge at Gooloogong”.
Some signage might have helped.
I’ve been back a couple of times. This has turned into an ongoing series.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:
- Australian Society for History of Engineering and Technology website at http://ashet.org.au/timber-truss-bridges/
- Sydney Morning Hearld article of 17 August 1900 available at the National Library of Australia’s TROVE website at http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/14330941
- Some notes about Gooloogong at http://www.forbes-nsw.com/Gooloogong.html
- Details of the Holman Bridge project being run by the NSW Government are available at http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/roadprojects/projects/western_region/holman/index.html
- Matt’s great photo of the bridge (better than mine!) was found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/52846207@N04/5828547696/