Historic Naracoorte bridge to come down

A historic bridge on the outskirts of Naracoorte will be demolished for safety reasons.

Wild Dog Valley Bridge on the corner of Cadgee Rd and Wild Dog Valley Rd, which could be up to 70 years old, has been hit hard by the recent heavy water flows down the Naracoorte Creek.

Previously a very heavily used bridge before the intersection was realigned about 50 years ago, it then was fenced onto private property and continued to be used by the property owner until about 25 years ago.

Naracoorte Lucindale Council’s director of operations Steve Bourne said the bridge was now “disintegrating” and needed to be removed before it washed away and caused problems further up the Naracoorte Creek.

The bridge could be demolished as early as next week.

The property owner Ian Grant said it was sad that the historic bridge would have to be dismantled, but it had clearly become a safety issue.

“I used to drive across the damn thing until about 25 years ago, the bridge became part of our property,” he said.

“It holds a few memories but the thing that concerns me, it’s started really deteriorating in the last few years and kids and other people have always got down there yabbying and what have you.

“It’s just become too dangerous, termites have got into it as well, and another decent rain and the high water could bring it down.”

Mr Grant said like many long-time locals he had an eye for history, but common sense had to prevail this time.

“I like to see these sorts of things preserved I suppose, it’s part of Naracoorte’s history. But it’s just too dangerous."

Mr Grant said many other locals had memories of the bridge, including Graham Henschke who had told him stories about how his siblings and friends used to go swimming in a waterhole next to the bridge, back in the "good old days” when the creek used to burst its banks at that spot every year.

Janet Higgs has lived within sight of the bridge her whole life and said she had become very attached to it.

Told that the bridge was going to be demolished, she said: “Well that’s very sad. I was born in 1939 and that’s been a part of my life.”

It's not known exactly when the bridge was built, but Mrs Higgs said her neighbour and friend June Goossens, now aged in her 90s, recalled that in the late 1930s, she and her family had no way of crossing the creek in that area during the winter.

“There was no bridge, they used to go over the creek on a cobble road when it wasn’t wet, but when the water was up they couldn’t get across,” Mrs Higgs said.

When the bridge was first constructed, it was part of Sandstone Quarry Road, which came out from Naracoorte and then deviated to the left over the creek at the intersection that is now Cadgee Rd-Wild Dog Valley Rd.

“Back then, everybody used it,” Mrs Higgs said.

“It was only when they put the road over the hill (what is now Cadgee Rd) that it stopped being used as much.”

Interestingly, the bridge was believed to be on private property after the road realignment, but Mr Bourne said when he became aware of the precarious state of the bridge and studied a map of the site, he found otherwise.

After the boundary adjustment in 1965 to allow the road realignment at the intersection, fencing was placed in the wrong position. The fence put the bridge in a paddock owned by Mr Grant’s family, but in actual fact the bridge remained on council land.