Farewell ferry, hello bridge

This weekend saw the opening of Brisbane’s newest bridge and the end of an era – the last Dutton Park ferry, closing after 40 years of service. If you enjoy reading snippets of local history from other places, read on…

Back in 1926, the University of Queensland was deciding on the location of its new campus. They chose the Brisbane suburb of St. Lucia which in those days was an inaccessible area of bush and swamp in a south-west bend of the Brisbane River. The site was chosen on the understanding that the city council would build a bridge linking the site with south and east Brisbane, on the other side of the river.

Some 40 years passed. With no bridge in sight, a bunch of students got together in the pub and came up with a petition requesting a ferry service. Many of the 4000 signatures were of questionable authenticity, but enough people thought this was a good idea and so the Dutton Park ferry service was born.

Another 40 years or so went by and bridge construction was finally approved. Initially the bridge was to carry only pedestrians and cyclists, but the plan (and so the size and cost) grew to accomodate buses. When I moved to Brisbane in March 2006, construction was well under way with the main piers close to completion.

Work continued apace and last weekend, the bridge opened to the public. It will certainly make my trips to and from work much easier but there’s a downside – the ferry service has closed. The ferry was a real community feature; in the 10 minutes or so spent there you’d run into people you know, chat with other passengers or just take a minute to relax, read a few pages of a book or just enjoy the river.

Well, that’s the price of progress. Our new bridge is the first in Australia devoted to public transport. It’s also completely solar-powered and rainwater runoff is directed to the university lakes for irrigation.

Here are a few images.

Bridge March 2003 Last ferry trip Bridge from ferry Bridge opening Bridge view
Bridge in March 2006 Last ferry service, Dec 15th Completed bridge from the ferry Opening day View from the bridge

In the true spirit of YouTube (short, incredibly dull videos), I captured my last ferry ride on video for posterity. And just because (a) you can and (b) I haven’t before, I present it here.

Farewell ferry, hello bridge!