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History Corner: Tasman Bridge Memorial

By Reg A. Watson

 

ONE may wonder at the meaning of the rather unusual structure of three rings that is situated at the Rosny Esplanade, Montagu Bay Reserve.

They have been there since February 2016 and by peering through them, the Tasman Bridge is sighted.

There is a connection; a strong one.

The rings are actually a memorial to the Tasman Bridge disaster of 5 January 1975 and many readers will recall that fateful night.

The bridge was originally opened in August 1964, replacing the floating one which could no longer cope with the traffic.

On the night of 5 January at 9.27pm, the bulk carrier ‘Lake Illawarra’ collided with the Tasman Bridge, collapsing two piers and destroying 127 metres of bridge decking.

Twelve people lost their lives because of it.

The memorial consists of three ring structures, visually symbolising hope and growth by three central themes – disaster, resilience and recovery.

Near the rings is a plaque giving the names of all those who died on that fateful night.

The memorial was designed by Kelly Elijdenberg and Travis Tiddy.

The night of the calamity is now 45 years ago and the impact the disaster had on the western and eastern shores of Hobart is well known.

The Eastern Shore was severely affected as the hospitals, government offices, schools and businesses were located on the western shore.

The bridge was rebuilt and opened 8 October 1977.

It will be well worth to stop, read the plaque and look through the rings, which visually will take you direct to the two piers that collapsed.

An unusual memorial which is full of meaning.