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Spanning the decades of riverside development

David Low Bridge at Bli Bli in 1960, surrounded by canefields. IMAGE: Sunshine Coast Council Heritage Library.

History

Spanning the decades of riverside development

AUDIENNE BLYTH looks at the ‘big day out’, 1959-style, when a popular bridge across Maroochy River opened.

The David Low Bridge across the Maroochy River at Bli Bli has been in the news lately. After serious repairs last year, road authorities and users dream of more improvements. It is a crucial link between Maroochydore and Noosa.

The bridge was opened in 1959 and named after local politician David Low. He was the member for Cooroora for a total of 28 years and a Maroochy Shire chairman for 15 years. A grandson of early pioneers, his heart was in the development of the Sunshine Coast.

The sugar industry was booming in the 1950s and previous to the building of the bridge, cane was transported with difficulty on punts across the river. It was then taken by tram to the Nambour mill.

Some residents may recall the whole day of celebration set aside for the bridge opening in August 1959. The morning program included crab and fishing competitions with separate sections for men, women and children and generous cash prizes. The QCWA ladies catered for lunch and this was followed by the official opening of Muller’s Restdown: a name that is now lost (perhaps this was Muller Park).

The Hon C. Adermann performed the ceremony. Tree planting was followed by displays of novelty bikes, folk dancing by Bli Bli schoolchildren, and the ski club which featured the then Australian champion Beverly Baumann. A wheel-barrow race with prizemoney attracted many entries. Clowns and a mock court continued the festivities. A refreshment booth operated all day. At 2.30pm, the  Hon A.G. Muller MLA and Minister for Public Land and Irrigation performed the official opening.

Much praise was given to David Alan Low after whom the bridge was named. A large line-up of official guests presented long speeches over the next hour.

Minister Muller brought his own horse and gave a display of horse riding with some tricks as well. Politicians and long speeches are not looked forward to by the public but this was remarkable and thoroughly enjoyed by attendees who were still very much in a horse era.

Foot races were held with different sections for men, women and children. The top prize was 25 pounds. A blindfold boat race and competition between tug-o-war teams were held before afternoon tea. Mrs Bendixen, from her dress shop in Nambour, provided a mannequin parade of local girls wearing the latest fashions.

More contests followed: nail driving, broom throwing, cane loading and wood chopping. The National Fitness provided  a display – no doubt for those too tired to continue in competitions but who liked  to watch. By this time, it was 6pm and time for a barbecue. Entertainment continued into the night with a variety program including a display of controlled model planes. Two bands, the Maroochy District Band and the Caledonian Pipe Band, put on popular musical items.

From the Moreton Central Sugar Mill in Nambour, three locos – Petrie, Shay and Moreton – were present. Three rakes of cane came across the bridge. How wondrous was that? Especially to the farmers. Applause was wild.

The community had a wonderful day. We would have loved to have been there.

Source: Programme of Events,  Official Opening, August 15, 1959.

 Audienne Blyth is a member of the Nambour Historical Museum, open  1-4pm Wednesday to Friday, and 10am-3pm Saturday.

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