A Daily Photo Blog about Life in Northern New South Wales, Australia.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Old Glen Innes Rd Part 4: Buccarumbi Bridge Disaster

Today a modern low-level bridge passes over the Nymbodia River at the forgotten town of Buccarumbi, but look downriver and a disconcerting scene appears, quickly you realise the evidence of a previous bridge that now lies in ruins.


The Nymbodia River rises on the lush Dorrigo Plateau and of all the tributaries of the Clarence River it is the most volatile and capable of extreme river rises. In 1947 a flood brought an incredible amount of debris down the river which built up behind the bridge; like a dam it suddenly burst taking the whole structure with it.
















This image from the State Library of Victoria shows the decking torn apart and cast downstream.














Astute followers of my journey along the Old Glen Innes Rd will also notice that the Buccarumbi Bridge was a gigantic version of the still used Bawdens Bridge that crosses the Orara River which featured in my first post on the Old Glen Innes Rd.

To view my journey along the historic Old Glen Innes Rd please click on the label.

To view other Weekend Reflections Click Here

See other bridges around the world on a Sunday Click Here

15 comments:

  1. Am I right in concluding that the debris fro 1947 still litters the riverbanks and water flow? What environmental vandalism is this?

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    1. Have you been there to see the Pylons built by our pioneering forebears littering the river? What amazing foresight to go out there in the 1870's and build such a bridge, to open the fruits of rich New England to the port of Grafton and the world. It must have been a complete wilderness yet for years they toiled, first to carry the Pylon cases to Buccarumbi. Then to stand them 15mtrs above the river, fill them with concrete and build an all weather bridge across the river.

      For nearly 70years they stood and for nearly 70 years they have laid in silent tribute to the energy and foresight that stood them. I hope they stay forever.

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  2. Very nice photos! Thanks for the background story also!
    Patrick Tillett, Extremely Overdue

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  3. Just a reminder that we have always been a country of droughts and flooding rains. Your top pic of the existing bridge is beautiful - such lush vegetation. Have a lovely Sunday!

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  4. the first photo is beautiful. love the greenery.

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  5. What a disaster. So peaceful and pretty today though.

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  6. what a beautiful view in the first photo, so sad that there was such a disaster there in the past

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  7. «Louis» can only imagine the force with which the bridge broke in 1947. Eerily similar to some of the destruction in Japan right now.

    A most interesting contribution to Sunday Bridges.

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  8. Interesting set of reflection, and usefull post concerning the life of this river... Thanks for sharing it.

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  9. What a beautiful photo of a lovely bridge and fascinating history to go alongside. The bridge appears to have no barrier to stop people falling in the water? Perhaps I'm just not seeing it...

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  10. Friends of our family lived on the upstream side of the bridge.The flood came after a long drought so all the logs and debry came down the river and it "clogged" on the bridge.My grandfathers best mate awoke to his dogs barking as the water was entering their kennels .The water had risen to make a large dam.
    Early that morning the bridge broke as was constucted of cast iron and concrete and had poor tensile strength.A huge noise emmanated from the crash of the structure and the flow of the water.

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    1. Probably wrought iron Darryl, slight more tensile strength than cast, but not enough. The distance between the outsides of the pylons probably no more then 16'. When the river made 50' and the debris built up against the lace it snapped a pylon. The rest is history.

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  11. TO JULIE RE YOUR COMMENT ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL VANDALISM.
    THE YEAR WAS 1946 AUSTRALIA HAD JUST MANAGED NOT TO BE INVADED BY THE JAPANESE.IN FACT FURTHER UP THIS ROAD CLOSER TO GLEN INNES ,ARMY ENGINEERS HAD PLANTED EXPLOSIVES TO BLOCK THE ROAD IN CASE OF INVASION.
    SOME CAST IRON AND CONCRETE IN A RIVER BED WOULD HAVE TO BE THE LAST WORRY TO AUSTRALIANS AT THAT TIME.
    I KNOW THIS AS MY DAD WAS AN EXSERVICEMAN AND OUR FAMILIIES HAVE LIVED HERE FOR OVER 3 GENERATIONS

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    1. Thanks for your really interesting information on a remarkable event. Like how the old piers are there and remind the visitor of the disaster and don't think it is environmental vandalism. One of my sources on this incredible event said that they did salvage what they could.
      Interesting information on blowing up Old Glen Rd, I have never heard about this but it makes sense.

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