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Celebrating 60 years of the Bribie bridge

By Sheree Hoddinett

With beautiful views on either side, there’s no denying how nice it is to cross the Bribie bridge. On one side you can take in the picturesque Glasshouse Mountains and on the other, the glimmering waters of the Pumicestone Passage. You might even be lucky to spot a bit of wildlife, from the array of local birds fluttering around or even a dolphin or dugong in the water.

Can you believe the Bribie bridge is about to turn 60? On October 19, 1963 the brand-new bridge was officially opened by the then Queensland premier Frank Nicklin. The bridge, which took two years to build, was the longest, pre-stressed, pre-cast concrete bridge in Australia at the time of its construction and spans a total of 831.4 metres from Sandstone Point across to the Island.

Considered a historic landmark of Bribie, it is the only bridge that connects the Island to the mainland. The earliest regular visitors to Bribie Island came by boat following the construction of the first jetty in May 1912 at Bongaree. A number of steamships including the Koopa and Doomba transported holidaymakers from Brisbane to Bribie Island. The idea of a bridge to Bribie Island had been discussed for many years and on November 17, 1959 came an official announcement that the bridge would be built. 

Can you believe when the Bribie bridge first opened it had a toll of 10 shillings, a decision that came about right before the opening of the bridge. It caused controversy at the time, was the same cost as the car ferry and apparently 10 times higher than the toll on the Hornibrook Highway bridge. Despite the toll being so high, it certainly didn’t stop the visitors and proved how popular the Island was (and still is!) as a holiday and tourism destination with the toll paid off in full by 1975. The first toll ticket was purchased by Premier Nicklin and the last toll ticket was purchased by Bribie resident Mr Stan Balmer on March 22, 1975. 

Bribie Island was home to roughly 600 residents when the bridge was first built but has now grown to a population of more than 20,000 people, many of them regularly commuting to work and other local services by crossing the bridge. With two traffic lanes and a pedestrian pathway on one side, it’s a bridge that certainly sees a lot of traffic, plenty of congestion and many an accident. It’s a structure that has stood the test of time, but the calls are still there for a new bridge to be built. Only time will tell on how that one will play out!

But for now, we can celebrate the 60 years the bridge has served the local community and marvel in the structure that continues to allow us to travel on and off the Island as much as we like. Happy 60th birthday to the Bribie bridge!


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