There you are, a low wooden bridge spanning the Tuross River at Eurobodalla, taking traffic over the mountain to Nerrigundah. You’ve done it for years. You were an old hand when we arrived in your neighbourhood in 1977.
You provided a basic kind of music, rattling away as trucks and cars slowed down to cross you. You were a primitive and functional work of art, worn wooden planks with gaps between them; bolts and replacement bolts; a thin swathe of sand and a slither of casuarina needles at the edges.
Your low parapet looked down onto the river, sluggish sometimes, other times whirling with flood waters. Many times you were completely submerged, but it didn’t seem to bother you. You surfaced in all your sturdiness ready to continue the job you were built for.
You wove your way into our lives. We used you to gauge the height of floodwaters. We walked across you to reach the sandy beach on the other side. The boys rode bikes clunkety clunkety clunk across your uneven boards, chucking wheelies for your whole length and triumphant if the gaps didn’t upend them. One day, I sat, motor revving at the town end of you debating what use I’d make of childless freedom when the kids were with their father: Bodalla pub? Or sitting around languorously in my black lingerie at home?
Once the army was using you and the area around you for training exercises. My son wanted to know what was going on. “They’re trying to take the bridge”, I said. He was mystified. “Take it where?”
Thirty-five years later you have indeed been taken, by the council, not the army. There you are, neatly sliced and laid out in piles in the reserve beside the river.
You’ve been replaced by a sprightly concrete bridge, much higher than you were. It will never have your charm. It will never grunt continuo to accompany our swims or Saturday night wine on the river bank. It won’t wear attractively into wooden scars. It won’t respond to our feet with splinters and clatter. There is no way we’ll be walking along its parapet, looking down on schools of tiny fish or sand ripples under slightly tea coloured water.
And you? What’s in your future? You’ll be used for transplants and spare parts, to extend the lives of other old wooden bridges in the shire.
You leave us behind to mourn you.