The History of the Urunga Footbridges

This is the script compiled and read by me at the gathering to witness the opening of the footbridge extension in 1999 by my Aunt Lillian (Ki) Parker (nee Sutton)

Colin Sutton speaks about the history of the Urunga footbridges.

The reason for the construction of the original footbridge in 1902 is in question, one explanation is that the bridge was built by the Pilot to access the lamp shed and light the acetylene lamp before dark each night and return next morning to extinguish the lamp.

We have a photo showing footprints leading across the sand in the direction of the lamp, this photo which was taken before the footbridge was built.

Information supplied by Terrence O’Callaghan to the Historical Society in 1979 suggests that the correct reason for the construction of the original footbridge was for the Pilot. The Pilot at the time requested a bridge be built, but the Council considered the various tenders beyond their means.

The Shire engineer and the Pilot service workers and built it themselves voluntarily. They obtained the timber from the Forest and the Pilot Mr. O’Callaghan is said to have driven every nail.

The original bridge served the Pilot until Pilot services ceased in 1933. The bridge was then used by fishermen and later became popular with visitors until it became dangerous and in 1940 a second bridge was built further south. Mr Funda, the Shire Engineer, explained this was to allow an Olympic sized Swimming pool to be built to the North.

The bridge was opened in 1940 by Mrs. Pritchard, the first white child born at Urunga.
The construction was a combined effort by the Progress Association and the Shire Council, it also helped that the Shire President was also a member of the progress Association.
Five council employees built the new bridge in 15 weeks at a cost of 700 pounds.

The cost had grown from $ 1400 in 1949 to $142,000 in 1988 and the bridge ended up 30 mtrs from the breakwall.

As the area remaining is covered by high tides the fisher¬men and visitors were in danger when returning at full tide. The extension, the opening of which we are celebrating today was constructed at a cost of $100,000.

The next extension of the walkway should be from the end of this bridge to the beach along the top of the breakwall, this would be a great asset for fishermen , beachgoers , and tourists alike. We should be planning for this facility now.

Thank you ……..Colin Sutton……. 15th August 1999

The Urunga boardwalk extension plaque is unveiled on the 15th August 1999 by Mayor Dethridge and the ribbon cut by Lillian (Kin) Parker