A NEW educational tourism experience that tells the story of Kangaroo Valley’s historic Hampden Bridge is to be launched on Monday by the Kangaroo Valley Tourist Association.
The Hampden Bridge Experience will tell the story of the bridge’s history from when work started in 1895, to its opening in 1898 through to the recently completed $4.8 million restoration by Roads and Maritime Services.
Visitors will be able to read new interpretative signs on Australia’s last surviving wooden suspension bridge on a self-guided walk from the bridge to the village, and see a short film about its restoration and history, online or on a smart phone.
The interpretative walk features seven benches, each with an interpretive sign, that explain seven key features of Kangaroo Valley.
The benches are made from the remaining timber from the bridge restoration, and are designed to aesthetically match the original bridge.
President of the Kangaroo Valley Tourist Association Chris Warren said the theme of the experience was a story of hope and respect.
“The bridge was built just before Federation in 1898 and the experience reflects the hope of a new country,” he said.
“Respect includes the bridge restoration, Aboriginal cultural heritage and community sustainability activities.
“It is a great example of community and government respecting the past, so that future generations can admire Australia’s heritage.”
Mr Warren said the heritage listed bridge was the only surviving 19th century timber-decked vehicular suspension bridge in Australia.
“It is the second most important bridge in Australia to the Sydney Harbour Bridge,” he said.
“Its remarkable stone towers are a beautiful sight and visitors from all around Australia love to stop and take pictures.
“It’s one of the country’s most remarkable engineering achievements still in use today.”
The $20,000 project for the Hampden Bridge Experience has been funded by the local community, with donations from Roads and Maritime Services and the Shoalhaven Tourism Board.
“The project has created a new entertaining tourism experience in Kangaroo Valley, which respects the past and conserves the heritage for future generations,” Mr Warren said.
• Hampden Bridge is more than 77 metres long and was built using local sandstone and timber. Only the steel cables which were made in England were sourced outside the district.
• Worked started in 1895 and was completed in 1898.
• The bridge is named after Viscount Hampden, the Governor of NSW from 1895 to 1899.
• The bridge was declared open to traffic on February 2, 1898 by local resident John King and six days later the largest flood since 1870 washed away the old bridge which was two metres lower.
• The bridge was designed by the Department of Public Works engineer Ernest De Burgh and constructed by the company Loveridge and Hudson.
• The RMS restored the bridge recently at a cost of $4.8 million.