An aerial view of Maclean?s 100-year-old McFarlane Bridge.
An aerial view of Maclean?s 100-year-old McFarlane Bridge.

Century of water under the bridge

By EMMA CORNFORD

ON April 9, 1906, the Maclean community gathered to celebrate the opening of the McFarlane Bridge.

The bridge, named after Member for Clarence John McFarlane, who had campaigned strongly for the bridge's construction, was an exciting engineering work for its time.

Fast forward 100 years ? the bridge is still being used and will this year celebrate its centenary in style.

Clarence Valley Council events co-ordinator Fiona Foulkes said the April 9 celebrations would recognise the historical significance of the bridge.

"It was a huge day 100 years ago when they opened it because it connected Woodford Island and Maclean, so we're realising that history (and) it's going to be a big event this year as well," she said.

Celebrations will begin with a parade over the bridge with fleets of historic cars, pipe bands and descendants of John McFarlane and the man who designed the bridge, Henry Dare. Mayor Ian Tiley will even get into the spirit of yesteryear when he rides a horse in the parade over the bridge.

"The general public can be part of it as well ? everyone's welcome to join in the parade," Ms Foulkes said.

After the parade, celebrations will continue at the Maclean Showground where there will be dancing, children's amusements and stalls.

McFarlane Bridge Centenary Committee chairman, Councillor Doug Mackenzie, said that with less than three weeks until the celebration, the organisational details were now being finely tuned.

"We have had the help of such a great group of individuals from the community that the celebrations will hopefully be remembered for the next 100 years," he said.

A souvenir booklet of the McFarlane Bridge, published by the Maclean District Historical Society, will also be launched in conjunction with the celebrations.

The Daily Examiner will be featuring a series of stories about Valley heritage icons in the lead up to April 9.



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