Without doubt, the lift span bridge is the ‘instant recognition’ cue for anyone who has visited Batemans Bay. So here’s some background on it.
Coastal shipping services provided communication and transport on the New South Wales coast from the 1850s, but the roads were somewhat slower to develop. A vehicular punt operated across the Clyde River at Batemans Bay from 1891, carrying increasing traffic as motor vehicle numbers increased and eventually being replaced by a steam ferry. Some thought was given to replacing the ferry with a bridge, but WWII intervened and work was deferred until the late 1940s. The bridge also had to provide for coastal shipping entering the Clyde River, so a lift span design was chosen: in that regard, it is quite unique on the NSW coast. Post war shortages of materials did, however, delay completion.
Finally, it was opened in November 1956. In its last year of operation the ferry had carried over 230,000 vehicles, so the new bridge must have made quite a difference at the time. Now, of course, traffic volumes are far greater than could ever have been envisaged over 50 years ago and the bridge itself with its single traffic lane in each direction is becoming a bottleneck – not helped at all by the ongoing need to open the span periodically to allow boats to pass! At those times, traffic is stopped by lights. Those of you with an engineering interest might care to note the two large concrete counterweights for the lifting span on the two towers.