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The Tasman Bridge. Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

Ralph de Zilva

Cedar Creek, Australia

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Nikon D100 & 24-120mm lens
Manual exposure
Gitzo tripod

4th in The Dreaming Sea And Waters ’Crossing The Waters" challenge on 12.08.2013
2nd in the Destination Australia Groups “Aussie Bridges” challenge on 10.08.2013
Top Ten in the Retired And Happy Challenge on 11.03.2011

Displayed on Redbubble’s Featured Page

Featured in
Destination Australia on 11.08.2013
Nature & Man on 06.08.2013
South East Australia
Tasmania on 24.2.2011

In the 1950s with the development of the Eastern shore, it was decided to build a larger bridge. The old Hobart Bridge faced increasing difficulty in managing the larger volumes of traffic that came with development and constantly raising the lift span for shipping was disruptive. The total cost of the new bridge in conjunction with approach ramps and Lindisfarne Interchange was in the area of £7 million4. Construction commenced in May 1960 and the bridge was first opened to traffic (2 lanes only) on August 18, 1964. The bridge was completed with all four lanes operational on December 23, 1964. It was officially opened on March 18, 1965 by H. R. H. Prince Richard, The Duke of Gloucester. During peak construction a labour force of over 400 men was employed on site.

On Sunday January 5, 1975, at 9:27 p.m. Australian Eastern Summer Time, the Tasman Bridge was struck by the bulk ore carrier Lake Illawarra, bound for the Electrolytic Zinc Company with a cargo of 10,000 tons of zinc concentrate. It caused two pylons and three sections of concrete decking, totaling 127 metres (417 ft), to fall from the bridge and sink the ship. Seven of the ship’s crewmen were killed and five motorists died when four cars drove over the collapsed sections before the traffic was stopped. A major press shot showed a 3,000 km old Holden Monaro GTS, which was owned by Frank and Sylvia Maley, along with an older EK Holden station wagon, driven by a local man Mr. Murray Ling, perched balancing on the ledge.

The depth of the river at this point (35 metres (115 ft) is such that the wreck of Lake Illawarra still lies on the bottom, with concrete slab on top of it, without presenting a navigation hazard to smaller vessels.

The breakage of an important arterial link isolated the residents in Hobart’s eastern suburbs – the relatively short drive across the Tasman Bridge to the city suddenly became a 50 kilometre (31 mi) journey via the estuary’s next bridge at Bridgewater. The only other vehicular crossing within Hobart after the bridge collapsed was the Risdon Punt, a cable ferry which crossed the river from East Risdon and Risdon, some five kilometres upstream from the bridge. However, it was totally inadequate, carrying only eight cars on each crossing, and although ferries provided a service across the Derwent River, it was not until December 1975 that a two lane, 788m long Bailey bridge was opened to traffic, thereby restoring some connectivity.

The separation of Hobart saw an immediate surge in the small and limited ferry service then operating across the river. In a primary position to provide a service were the two ships of Robert Clifford, a Tasmanian mariner. He had introduced the locally-built ferries Matthew Brady and James McCabe to the river crossing, from the Central Business District of Hobart to the eastern shore, shortly before the collision. These two ships were soon joined by the Cartela, a wooden vessel of 1912 vintage, and other ships, including Sydney Harbour ferries, pressed into service by the Tasmanian Government, to ferry thousands of commuters across the river.

Following successful rebuilding of the Bridge, Clifford’s organisation saw the ferry traffic fade quickly, but by then he had diversified into further building of ships.

On the June 20, 2007, a crane toppled whilst carrying out works on the bridge, and precariously hung for a number of hours off the side of the barriers.

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