Postcards from 100 years ago



Fig Tree Bridge

Fig Tree Bridge is a girder bridge that spans the Lane Cove River, west of the CBD in Sydney, Australia. It is immediately to the north of Tarban Creek Bridge and the more well known Gladesville Bridge. The bridge carries Burns Bay Road and a footpath and connects the suburb of Hunters Hill to Linley Point.   

79 Fig Tree Bridge

This bridge replaces an iron truss bridge originally built on this site in 1885 in a period which also saw the construction of the original Gladesville and Iron Cove bridges. The earlier Fig Tree Bridge was about 50 metres (160 ft) to the west. The southern abutment still exists, upon which there is a viewing platform accessible from the end of Joubert Street. The wheel that once operated the opening span stands in memorial. 

The current Fig Tree Bridge, which opened in September, 1963, was built in conjunction with the Tarban Creek and Gladesville Bridges as part of the planned North Western Expressway linking the city with the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway. The expressway was cancelled, but the freeway grade road from the eastern end of the Gladesville Bridge, over Tarban Creek and ending at the northern end of Fig Tree Bridge hints at what was planned. The bridge's concrete piers were designed so that when the expressway became a reality, two extra lanes either side of the bridge could be clipped on, increasing the bridge's capacity.  

Early European Settlement  

Early in the history of the European settlement in Sydney, the area around the Lane Cove River became an important source of timber. Wharves were built along the river, including one by an ex-convict, Joseph Fidden, in the area now known Fiddens Wharf Reserve. A small vineyard was established in the early 1800s in what is now Fullers Park. By the end of the 1870s, many small orchards were flourishing in the area. Jenkins Kitchen, near the NPWS Visitor Centre, was part of a 1860s family homestead.   

Fairyland Tea Gardens (later Pleasure Gardens) was converted from a family market garden to cater for numerous picnickers boating on the river. Swings, slides, a ferris wheel, shelter sheds and a dance hall were built, but most have since disappeared. By the end of the late 19th century the remaining orchards had deteriorated. Public pressure grew for the government to acquire the foreshore land for a recreation reserve, and to protect the waterways and retain the natural features of the valley between Fig Tree Bridge to some distance above De Burghs Bridge. The weir was completed and the Lane Cove National Park officially declared open on 29 October 1938. 


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