I’ve been wandering around Brisbane a lot lately, discovering my new city during its notoriously sweltering summer. One place I’ve ambled across quite a bit is the Victoria Bridge, which is the replacement for the first bridge to span the city’s north and south river banks, the Brisbane Bridge.
Two years after it opened in 1865, the timber-made Brisbane Bridge was devoured by a healthy population of woodworms and crumbled into the Brisbane River like a scotch biscuit.
During its brief span in the spotlight, the bridge was found to be vital to the city’s growth. Therefore, in 1874, a steel replacement named the Victoria Bridge was built in honour of the then reigning monarch, Queen Victoria.
However, the tides soon turned and in 1893 a whopping flood buckled the bridge, once again giving the city’s engineers a firm dose of Brisbane bridge bewilderment.
Only three years later – just below the Victoria Bridge site – a strong current pulled a steamboat off course, causing it to collide with an anchored boat. The steamboat split in two and 23 people died trying to swim in the strong current.
If that wasn’t all, right at the Victoria Bridge Abutment, another most unfortunate event took place. In 1918, a memorial tells us, 11-year-old Hector Vasyli was tragically hit and killed by a car as he was welcoming WWI troops home.
Watching commuters race by, I wondered if I might be standing in a cursed part of the world and my life might ironically end while I was reading all this. Then I found out this exact spot is also an important site for the city’s Australian and Greek community and good things happen here too.
Besides making one feel incredibly fortunate, the site contains original granite tablets of the Brisbane Bridge that once held gas lamps, as well as remnants of the old tram line that operated here between 1885 and 1969.
There’s also a nice view over the city, a makeshift café called Barkers and a regular who sings and plays a happy tune on his guitar here during peak hour. Blink and you’d miss it, but the Victoria Bridge Abutment (rebuilt in 1966) is well worth five minutes of your time – just to stop, sip and remember times gone by.