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Cruising classic cars to celebrate 60 years

By Sheree Hoddinett

Feeling the wind in their hair and taking in the views across the glistening waters of the Pumicestone Passage, a lucky group of the who’s who of Bribie Island and beyond celebrated 60 years of the Bribie bridge on October 19. Making the day extra special was their trip across the bridge in a small fleet of classic and vintage cars. It was all made possible thanks to Bribie Island Historical Society president Barry Clark.

With the warm spring weather turning on the charm, guests gathered at the Bribie Island Seaside Museum to share stories and memories of their time on the Island before the bridge was built, during construction and what the opening of the bridge did for the Island once it was open.

“It was my great pleasure to organise an event to bring a few special people together who had not seen each other in ages,” Mr Clark said. “These people and their families go back more than 100 years on Bribie.

“I'm now just celebrating my 20 years on Bribie, which is a tiny amount compared to some of these special guests. When I arrived on Bribie in July 2003, I’d never been here before, I could barely spell Bribie Island. I certainly didn't have any interest in history or Bribie history. But within a few weeks, that all began to change.”

Mr Clark was part of the Rotary Club and helped plan celebrations for the 40th anniversary in what he labelled a special event because it introduced him to the world of Bribie history. In marking the 60 years of the bridge, Mr Clark organised the fleet of vehicles to take the guests on a special journey along Welsby Parade, across the bridge, through the Sandstone Point Hotel grounds and then back across the bridge again. Special guests on the 60th anniversary day included:

  • Margaret Bishop (nee Bestmann) – The Bestmann family were the original pioneer settlers in the area at Godwin Beach in 1870.

  • Judy Winston – The Winston’s took over the first general store at Bongaree in the 1930s. The family also had a tobacco farm on the Island and Judith’s late husband Doug was a runner at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956. Judy is also formerly a Tesch before marriage and the Tesch family operated the first car ferry barge in 1947.

  • Pat Clayton – The late Ted Clayton was the construction supervisor for the bridge and also a fisherman who wrote about the Island for national fishing magazines.

  • Peter and Judy Kling – The Kling family were bakers on the Island from early settlement days and were in business for more than 70 years.

  • Don Mullen – Ran the first pharmacy/chemist on the Island, was also the founder of the Bribie Island Golf Club, president of the Chamber of Commerce and leader for many major projects on Bribie.

  • Kay and Ron Brennan – Ron’s parents had Brennan’s Store on Toorbul Street for many years and Brennan Park is named in their honour. Ron and his brothers are involved in several sports clubs on Bribie and Kay is the daughter of Lou Young, who was Bribie’s first Librarian.

  • Pat Smith and Lyne Marshall are sisters from the Crouch family who were a pioneer fishing family on Bribie in the early years.

  • Nancy Jack - a long term and well-known resident involved in many social groups and clubs on Bribe.

  • Esme Paton was the oldest guest at the birthday event, approaching 103 years of age. She has only been living on Bribie since the 1980’s but is regarded as one remarkable lady.

  • City of Moreton Bay councillor Brooke Savige.

Don Mullen took the opportunity to share a few special stories of his own especially around the time of war. Mr Mullen first started visiting the Island in 1935 and has been a resident now for 62 years. He also highlighted the impact of there being a toll on the bridge in the beginning.

“It was mentioned that it wasn't going to be free, there was going to be a toll on the bridge,” Mr Mullen said. “This came as a bit of a shock to the Bribie people who complained that they didn’t know of anybody else in the world who had to pay to travel on the road to go home. Which is a fair sort of an argument. But the toll was there and we all had to pay our toll.

“At the opening of the bridge, everybody on the Island turned out, including perhaps half of Brisbane. At that time, Bribie wasn't ready for the influx of people who came across the bridge. And it happened very quickly that the eating places ran out of supplies to supply people with necessary snacks. That wasn't the only problem because a lot of people hadn't been used to driving on roads that were part sand. So a lot of people got bogged.

“The next thing was rather inconvenient; the toilet facilities were not quite sufficient. There was the situation where people were darting into other people's property behind their hedges and things like that to solve their toileting problems. I'm happy to say now that all of this has been solved and many people are very happy to come to Bribie across the bridge. And in most cases, we welcome them with open arms.”

City of Moreton Bay councillor Brooke Savige made the most of the opportunity to pay homage to the bridge which has changed many lives in many ways.

“It's not often that we get to celebrate such a milestone for any group or any organisation, but to celebrate it for a piece of vital infrastructure that has changed the way we live here locally and changed all of our lives, I think it's really exciting,” Ms Savige said. “I guess the question on everyone's mind though, is what comes next for our Bribie bridge? And whatever it might be, I know for certain that it will never top the original Bribie bridge and the memories that we all have of that bridge, whatever those memories might be.

“A very special thank you to Barry for coordinating this event and here's to 60 more years, but maybe not exactly the same 60 more years for the bridge.”


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