Orara crossing will be Council’s longest bridge
MEMORIES will come flooding back when a new bridge across the Orara River at Hartleys Road, Coramba, is officially opened on Thursday.
Known as Hartleys Bridge, it began life as a stump in the river with logs perched precariously on top, only suitable for people walking single file.
Over the years severe floods led to banks being eroded and the river widening so that a larger bridge was needed.
The existing bridge, which still stands beside the new structure, was built sometime between 1926 and 1928. Despite being an improvement on the original stump and log, the 49 metre long and 3.1 metre wide structure was frequently impassable during floods, with no alternate vehicle access for residents.
The new bridge is council's longest and largest timber bridge, spanning 66 metres and 3.6m wide. It is also a metre higher than the previous bridge.
Over the years, the Hartley family, residents of the Orara Valley since 1893, have run dairy cows and bullock teams, and grown bananas as well as vegetables such as peas, beans and carrots for the local markets.
Long-time resident Kevin Hartley said in the past people would be stuck during floods for three or four days because the bridge was inaccessible.
"Families were often stranded and the only way out would be the long hard journey up over the hill," Mr Hartley said.
Mr Hartley said his family, as well as the O'Neill family, had always taken a great interest in the bridge and its improvements because they had all lent a hand to keep in it working order as floods would often cause considerable damage.
His one regret is that his mother and father, Rita and Harry, are not around to see the new bridge.
"I think Mum would be thrilled and delighted about it. She was so excited when Hartleys Road went from dirt to bitumen," he said.
"I also want to express my appreciation to the council workers and staff, past and present, for all their work over the many years in maintaining the road and the bridge."