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We all know and love that muddy creek that meanders through Adelaide, the River Torrens. It is centrepiece of the wonderful Linear Park that provides so many ways for us to exercise in a pleasant and natural environment.
Not so many of us know about the swing bridge across the Torrens though. It's buried away in the back streets of St Peters with hardly a sign to give away its existence. There is one, but it is quite overgrown.
Perhaps it's just as well that the bridge isn't obvious. I wouldn't recommend it for:
1 Anyone suffering a hangover. 2 People with a fear of heights. 3 Young children. 4 Dogs.
Although perhaps I should qualify number 4. Some dogs seem to like it!
The entry is all very innocuous. You might almost be walking up a private laneway. And then it is there. Confronting you. Daring you to cross. A narrow strip of safety across the raging torrents. Well, it had been raining recently.
The first step or two was fine. It was only after I got onto the bridge proper that it started swinging. My stomach gave a lurch, but I soldiered bravely on. Taking photos with two hands busily clinging to steel cables is a challenge.
I tried to concentrate on the pretty landscaped garden on one bank, contrasting with the almost natural scrubby vegetation on the other side. Things didn't get any easier, but eventually I made it across.
While I was catching my breath on the other side and appreciating the scenery, my tranquil experience was abruptly interrupted. A squadron of three kookaburras whooshed over my shoulder and two landed on the bridge about 2 metres from me. By the time I had recovered my wits, there was only one left, but I was able to quickly get a photo of it.
As I crossed back I reflected on the history of the place. It seems a quiet and unassuming location, but nearly 100 years ago things were very different. The area was known as The Gilberton Baths, and was the home of a very popular amateur swimming club. The State Library has a picture of people enjoying themselves at the spot in 1912 here.
The bridge was built around 1920, reputedly to help sell land by a developer. While it may have been built illegally it is now a well liked feature of St Peters. By most of its users anyway...
I remember back in 1965 you paid approx threepence to enter the swimming pool .... also there were change rooms available for all. The river was just as muddy back then too and we wore sandals to protect our feet while swimming. Libby.
I feel sure there was a slippery dip into the river..we all learnt to swim there about 1955...they had a canteen selling bush biscuits etc..change sheds...office...and when you paid your yearly fee 6d or 1/- you got a cotton badge to sew onto your bathers