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Calls for historic Charleyong Bridge to be saved as tourism draw card

Alex Rea 21 November 2019 16
Charleyong Bridge

Charleyong Bridge over the Mongarlowe River, August 2019. Photo: Linda Denning.

Nerriga Road users have welcomed the construction of a new $23 million bridge over the Mongarlowe River at Charleyong, but some locals would like to save the old ‘Allen Truss’ Bridge which has served the road since 1901.

Nerriga Road (MR92), or the Old Wool Road, runs between Braidwood and Nowra. Construction of the road approaches began in July 2018 and works on the new bridge began in January 2019.

The Friends of the Mongarlowe River (FMR) have written to the Member for Monaro, John Barilaro, seeking a moratorium on the planned demolition. The group is advocating for the opportunity for the old bridge “to retire from heavy traffic use and, instead, become a footbridge for recreational access to the life of the river”.

Designs for the new Charleyong Bridge

Designs for the new Charleyong Bridge. Source: RMS.

FMR has a long history of protecting and advocating for the river which is widely recognised as one of the cleanest and most natural rivers in the state. Our members have actively led projects to repair erosion and to regenerate threatened wildlife. The river’s extraordinary values include being home to the endangered Macquarie Perch as well as profoundly healthy and numerous populations of Platypus, Rikali, Mussels and Water Dragons.

The public space beside the old bridge was once a place where tennis and cricket were played and the FMR would like to see it return as a place for safe and quiet enjoyment of the Mongarlowe River with its platypus, Macquarie Perch and bird populations.

View from the old Charleyong Bridge to new Bridge

View from the old Charleyong Bridge to new Bridge. Photo: Linda Denning.

Sue Doran from FMR says, “This area is the only public access point to the Mongarlowe River in the 45 kilometre stretch between the village of Mongarlowe and its confluence with the Shoalhaven”.

“Tourists who seek to trace the journey of wool to the coast via The Old Wool Road, as they are encouraged to do by Shoalhaven Council, will be denied the charm of the old Allen Truss Bridge,” she says.

FMR cites the example of the repurposing of an Allen Truss Bridge in Carrathool over the Murrumbidgee which is now signposted to reflect its historic value.

Repairs to Charleyong

The Charleyong has been reinforced in recent years. Photo: John Stahel.

In recent years the Charleyong Bridge has had costly reinforcement works as traffic on Nerriga Road has increased with the sealing of the road.

“This strengthening work should stand the bridge in good stead for a long future,” Ms Doran says.

The Braidwood & District Historical Society (BDHS) believes the 1901 Allan Truss Bridge should be kept and re-imagined as a tourist site and recreation area thereby enhancing the heritage tourism plans that Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) has for the region.

John Stahel from BDHS says the bridge has historical significance and future potential.

“The Wool Road is one of only a few convict built roads that still exist. With a little imagination and little financial investment, the Wool Road can draw curious visitors to our town, with a beautiful bridge over a pristine river,” Mr Stahel says.

“The RMS (NSW Roads and Maritime Services) assumes unrealistic maintenance costs, using past figures that were spent during a recent upgrade when the bridge had to be reinforced for very heavy vehicles. Demolishing the bridge is unimaginative and short-sighted,” he adds.

Charleyong Cricket Ground

The Charleyong Cricket Ground before it was turned into a plant depot for the bridge builders. It’s public land. Once a stock reserve but then used as a Charleyong cricket ground and tennis courts during the C20th. Photo: John Stahel.

Mr Stahel envisages the old cricket ground area to be used in the same way the Warri rest stop is used.

“The Braidwood Historical Society is asking the RMS, the Council and our local member to just pause. The bridge won’t cause any problems while we think and once heritage items have gone, they are gone,” Mr Stahel says.

Tracey Davis, owner of the nearby Corang River B & B, would also like to see the bridge retained.

“I think that this amazing piece of history is already a draw-card for visitors who are keen to learn the history of the area, explore more, eat, sleep and play in our local towns. In rural towns and villages, we need all the tourist attractions that we can get. It also holds emotional and historic memories for those that have lived in the area for generations,” Ms Davis says.

The project has been jointly funded, with the NSW Government allocating $18 million and the Australian Government allocating $5 million for the project.

There are 140 bridges in QPRC and 23 of these are timber. The long-term approach by QPRC is to replace all of the timber bridges with bridges made from concrete or steel unless there are substantial reasons to retain the timber structure.

Original Article published by Alex Rea on About Regional.


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16 Responses to Calls for historic Charleyong Bridge to be saved as tourism draw card
Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 10:13 am 30 Nov 19

Yes it should be retained. Its the only smooth bit on that route.

David Brown David Brown 11:39 am 25 Nov 19

Is the road between Braidwood and Nerriga still unsealed?

    Matthew Galvin Matthew Galvin 2:06 pm 25 Nov 19

    David Brown yeah still two short sections of dirt

    David Brown David Brown 5:34 pm 25 Nov 19

    Matthew Galvin When you say short, how long?

    I ride a motorcycle and I would like to ride it but I am not a fan of rough dirt.

    Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 10:12 am 30 Nov 19

    At last count about 35km of very rough unsealed road.

    David Brown David Brown 1:26 pm 30 Nov 19

    Trevor Watson Thanks. That is way too much for me on a road bike.

Jennifer Coffey Jennifer Coffey 8:42 am 25 Nov 19

Old bridge could be kept for walkers and cyclists and so would require little ongoing maintenance. Because of historical nature or road, bridge has heritage value

    Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 10:24 am 30 Nov 19

    Jennifer Coffey due to its location I doubt many cyclists or hikers would use it but as it forms part of the Old Wool Road it does have some heritage significance.

Andrea Trappes Andrea Trappes 7:04 am 25 Nov 19

Hope they start on the crossing outside Nerriga next!

    Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 10:11 am 30 Nov 19

    Andrea Trappes oh you mean the crumbling dip over the creek... Thats a real killer my caravan bottoms out there.

Flick Williams Flick Williams 9:01 pm 24 Nov 19

23 million for a bridge?

    Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 10:22 am 30 Nov 19

    Flick Williams well that 23million takes into consideration innumerable trips by engineers of various persuasions to inspect the site. Then there are the costs of land aquisitions, environmental studies, feasibility studies etc. Then because the nearest place concrete can be sourced is probably Goulburn it comes in at around $1000/cu metre. So after all the administrative costs and all the objections are dealt with that will leave around $100k to actually do the job. If you recon 23million is expensive check up on the cost of the Oalen Ford bridge and the Endric River bridge. Just hope there are no flora or fauna within 100 metres of the site because that will double the cost.

John Perkins John Perkins 3:25 pm 24 Nov 19

It is so important to retain old bridges like this. Bridges like this are part of the history of the local area.

Kerrie Buitendam Kerrie Buitendam 2:59 pm 24 Nov 19

Totally agree it with s a lovely old bridge xx

Chris May Chris May 2:55 pm 24 Nov 19

Absolutely xx

Jude May Jude May 2:46 pm 24 Nov 19

Chris May one of your favourite roads ;)

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