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The Story Bridge Turns 80

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by Gillian Ching (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane who loves exploring quirky places with my dog. Join me on my quest to find, experience, and share fun things to do and interesting places to go.Please subscribe if you enjoy the articles.
Published July 14th 2020
Climb, Ride and Photograph Brisbane's Favourite Bridge
One of Brisbane's most recognisable landmarks, The Story Bridge turns 80 this year and that's cause to celebrate and take even greater notice of this steel grey, sky-reaching transport and city icon.

Hearing of the special ruby jubilee birthday of the bridge I have grown up crossing inspired me to dig a little deeper and learn more about this city favourite. How did it come to be and how has it evolved, I wondered.

A brief history of the Bridge
The Story Bridge provides an inner-city river crossing access between Fortitude Valley and Kangaroo Point along State Route 15. The bridge was the brainchild of local Sandgate born and Brisbane educated engineer Dr. John Bradfield, who was responsible for its design, fabrication, and construction. The bridge took 5 years (from 1935) to complete, one year longer than anticipated due to a shortage of steel.

Construction of the Bridge Photo courtesy Trove

View to Dr Bradfield's home suburb, Sandgate


The Story Bridge took its name from a veteran public servant called John Douglas Story (a former head of the Education Department and the Public Service Commissioner) and was officially opened on 6 July 1940. It is the longest cantilever style bridge in Australia at 777 metres (even surpassing the Sydney Harbour Bridge).

John Story Photo courtesy en Wikipedia

More than just a bridge
The Story Bridge has seen a lot in its 80 years and experienced so much more than just the commuter structure that I'm sure Dr Bradfield had in mind. It has been a place of loud public protests, tragic suicide attempts, major traffic accidents and bumper to bumper delays, overseen the flow of major flooding waters, and even seen people charged for climbing it illegally to take a sneaky selfie.

The bridge continues to be at the centre of Brisbane's cultural and outdoor activities including:

Sunsuper Riverfire

Along with Southbank and the Goodwill Bridge, the Story Bridge is a pivotal feature and much-photographed backdrop of Brisbane's biggest annual multi-venue pyrotechnic show, Riverfire, which is choreographed to a popular, themed music soundtrack. The bridge certainly comes to light during this free illuminating Brisbane Festival event.

Photo courtesy Riverfire page facebook

Story Bridge Hotel
The Story Bridge Hotelis located under the famous bridge and as well as pouring a pint or two, hosts the annual Australia Day celebrations each January.

This signature event features an outdoor barbeque and the "only in Australia" cockroach races. I wonder what Dr John Bradfield would make of this! The hotel is located at 200 Main Street, Kangaroo Point.

Story Bridge Adventure Climb
To see the Bridge up close, visitors can take the adventure climb at a range of times including dawn, twilight, and during the day and night. The bridge offers a 360-degree view of Brisbane where climbers can see as far as the Glass House Mountains in the north to Moreton Bay in the east and stretching towards the Scenic Rim Mountains in the south.

If climbing the bridge is a big of a step for you, you can marvel at its enduring design from a distance. Three of the best vantage points are Wilson's Outlook in New Farm, the Riverwalk (also in New Farm) or Captain Burke Park in Kangaroo Point. It features LED lights which are often lit in bright colours associated with a specific local or world-specific event such as Daffodil Day or White Balloon Day.

Photo courtesy Michael @ michael75 Splash

So whether you are driving over it, climbing onto it or simply remembering it, don't forget to wish the Story Bridge a happy 80th birthday this year and thank Dr Bradfield for his ingenious creation that helps to make Brisbane the city it is.

(Please note - any activities mentioned in this story are subject to Government imposed COVID 19 requirements)
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Why? Celebrate the Creation of Brisbane's Iconic Bridge
When: Anytime
Where: State Route 15, New Farm
Cost: Free
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