Joyride to celebrate bridge’s 60th anniversary

Published 4:02pm 30 October 2023

Joyride to celebrate bridge’s 60th anniversary
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

Locals took part in a special joyride to mark the Bribie Island bridge’s 60th anniversary in October in a nod to the procession that was held to celebrate its opening in 1963.

A number of people who have lifelong connections to the island and the bridge came together to celebrate the momentous milestone, which included a trip from the Bribie Island Seaside Museum over to Sandstone Point Hotel and back.

Several classic and vintage cars took part in the celebrations including a Chrysler Valiant, Volkswagen Kombi and a 1923 Chevrolet Utility.

Among those celebrating the anniversary was Pat Clayton, whose husband Ted oversaw the construction of the bridge in his role as foreman for K.D. Morris and Sons.

“It was really nice to be here to celebrate the anniversary,” Pat says.

“I had a lot of fun in the car driving over the bridge – it was a really nice car!

“I only wish Ted could have been here, but he passed away a few years ago.

“He was what you would call one of the big bosses during the construction.”

Pat, who has lived on Bribie Island since 1954, remembers visiting the island on the barge.

“I lived in Annerley in Brisbane and worked in Queen Street,” Pat recalls.

“I would drive to work with the girls and one of them had a daughter who was a lifesaver. She wanted me to come and meet the other lifesavers, so I did, and I ended up married to one.”

Also in attendance on the day were Bribie Island Historical Society President Barry Clark and Judy Winston, whose family were pioneer shopkeepers and tobacco growers on the island.

Judy’s late husband Douglas was also the first Olympian from Bribie Island to compete in an Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956. 

Peter and Judy Kling were also there – they were the family bakers on Bribie Island for almost 70 years, as well as Don Mullen, who was a pharmacist on the island for more than 60 years, Ron and Kay Brennan, whose family is honoured with the name of Brennan Park, and Councillor Brooke Savige.

Speaking at the celebration, Don Mullen shared some of his memories of the bridge being built.

“I first came here to Bribie Island in 1935 and lived here for 62 years,” Don says.

“As the bridge progressed, a number of people were able to walk over the bridge. They weren’t supposed to, but they did it anyway because it was much quicker than waiting for the barge.

“At that time, there was a larrikin most people would remember on the island - Roy Barrad.

“Roy was on the other side one time when the bridge was virtually finished, but it happened to have a cable that stretched across the Bribie end of it, which Roy didn’t know about. He came charging across the bridge in his truck and hit the cable, which resulted in significant damage to his truck, and also to this end of the bridge.

“That part of the bridge had to be feverishly repaired so it could be opened a couple of days later.

“At the opening of the bridge everyone on the island turned out, including half of Brisbane, I would think, because at that time Bribie wasn’t ready for the influx of people who came across the bridge.

“It happened very quickly that the eating places ran out of supplies to supply people with necessary snacks.

“That wasn’t the only problem. There was also a lot of people who wasn’t used to driving on roads that were part sand, so a lot of people got bogged.”

To see more photos from the 60th anniversary celebrations, click through the gallery below. Photos by Dominika Photography. 

History of the Bribie Bridge

The Bribie Bridge was officially opened on October 19, 1963, by then Queensland Premier, The Honourable Frank Nicklin (MLA).

Bribie Island Historical Society President Barry Clark presented the following information to Moreton Daily

Before the bridge was constructed, a car ferry barge ran for 16 years from 1947 until the Bribie Bridge opened.

The case to build a bridge connecting Bribie to the mainland was one that was talked about for years.

In 1937, contractors had expressed interest in building a bridge to Bribie when the builder of the new Hornibrook Highway formed the Bribie Bridge Company and sought government approval to build a toll bridge.

In 1957 the Queensland Government considered the construction of a Commercial Shipping Pilot Station on Bribie with a causeway across the passage and that sale of land could possibly pay for a bridge.

During that time, Opposition Leader Frank Nicklin promised to build a bridge to Bribie if he won the next election. He was elected Premier in 1958 and eventually called for tenders for the construction.

In March 1960 the contract was awarded to K.D. Morris and Son to build a bridge for £358,156 – the equivalent of $716,312 today.

Pat’s husband Ted Clayton was foreman for K.D. Morris & Sons Pty Ltd at the time.

During the construction of the bridge, 206 concrete piles, each 26m long, were driven into the seabed at a depth of 10m with a 10-tonne hammer, while 114 22m concrete beams were placed on top before pouring the road slab.

It took just over two years to build the bridge and it was completed on budget and with no loss of life for the 50 workers involved.

A grand opening ceremony and a procession were held to celebrate the opening.

To cross the bridge cost 10 shillings (about $16 today) for a return trip in a car.

When decimal currency was introduced in 1966, the price of the toll became $1. This price stayed in place for 12 years until 1975 when the State Government announced the bridge had been paid for and the toll was to be removed.

Premier Nicklin was the first person to pay the toll, and the last person was Stan Balmer.

The Bribie Island Bridge is 831m long with a 4.8m clearance of the water at high tide.

To see more photos of the bridge under construction and the official opening, click through the gallery below. Images courtesy of City of Moreton Bay. 

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