Growing up next door to the weir, Lynn Smith from the Bangalow Parklands Group, knows a thing or two about the history that spans the newly placed bridge.

If you have visited the Bangalow Parklands lately you would more than likely have noticed that the bridge over the creek is back in place after a very long and difficult rebirth. The bridge now sits beautifully in place reflecting the silver of the eucalyptus trunks, the Bangalow palms, and the grey colours of the park infrastructure.

The community can now access the small but peaceful area across the creek. There is still work to do in this section. Byron Shire Council has plans to sensitively clear the weeds, dead trees, and debris from the floods earlier this year, using the latter to form a natural circular track. Bush tucker trees will then be planted. The Bangalow Parklands group will be working alongside Byron Council on this project. Bangalow Landcare planted many of the existing trees on this side many years ago and are keen to do some work in this area also.

The story of the bridge goes back to 1990, when Council recommended that the pool be upgraded.  The old wooden ‘bridge’ over the creek was originally the starting board for the swimming pool, located at the south end of what is now the concrete slab.

Two years later, in 1992, council installed a new steel bridge at a cost of $12,500. Twenty years later the bridge was starting to show its age and was becoming unsafe. In 2011 the weir under the bridge also developed cracks in the foundations due to tree roots from a eucalyptus tree planted beside the bridge abutments. So, the area around the bridge and the old children’s pool was fenced off. It remained this way until 2016 when the Bangalow Parklands group, after building the waterfront rotunda, lobbied Council successfully to have the fence removed. Then in August 2017, Council closed access onto the bridge.

Council engineers inspected the bridge on several occasions and the Bangalow Parklands group continued to push to have it repaired, but to no avail. Originally the idea was to take the bridge out and put it in the carpark where it would be sandblasted and painted, but this was found to be too costly.

In 2020 the Bangalow Progress Association (BPA) came on board to help move things along. The group included an engineer with experience with bridges, and he was able to do an independent appraisal of the bridge and write a report for Council. The BPA and the Bangalow Parklands group worked together on this project and were successful in obtaining $85,000 in Council funds to repair the bridge. Thanks to the BPA for working together on this project — one could say it is symbolic of groups building bridges within the community.

The bridge was removed for refurbishment in April 2021. It was then split into three parts, the structure strengthened, and the frame sent to Brisbane to be galvanised. New stainless-steel sides were also put on, and when the three parts of the frame arrived back at the Bangalow Parklands they were joined together. The slip-resistant treads were put in, and on August 24, the bridge was installed with the help of a crane and secured into place. Many thanks and appreciation to all the Council workers who worked on the bridge over this time.

Council has also built a 76-metre shared path at Bangalow Parklands that links the park shelter and rotunda to the carpark and amenities building, enabling better access to the park for people of all ages and abilities.

Feature photo: on Smith, Terry Bleakley, Lynn Smith and Christobel Munson from Bangalow Parklands Group on the refurbished bridge