ABOVE: A good crowd gathered to celebrate Joan Cootes birthday near the Grafton Bridge.
ABOVE: A good crowd gathered to celebrate Joan Cootes birthday near the Grafton Bridge. Adam Hourigan

Joan's got just the ticket for new bridge

JOAN Cootes was only a few years old when the iconic Grafton Bridge officially opened on July 19, 1932.

She was one of the first people to cross the newly-finished bridge and last Thursday she did it again - 86 years later.

Clutching the very first ticket, #001, handed to her in 1932 for the train's debut bridge crossing, she relived the experience accompanied by three generations of her family including her daughter, granddaughter and great-grandchildren.

Joan Cootes shows off her original train ticket from when she first crossed the Grafton bridge.
Joan Cootes shows off her original train ticket from when she first crossed the Grafton bridge. Adam Hourigan

"(It is) a great experience, especially for great-grandchildren who are excited to do this,” Joan's daughter Anne-Maree Chevalley said.

A resident at Whiddon aged care in Grafton, the group organised a picnic for Mrs Cootes with some of the other residents in her honour, as she relived one of her fondest moments.

ABOVE AND BELOW: Joan Cootes shows off her original train ticket from when she first crossed the Grafton bridge.
ABOVE AND BELOW: Joan Cootes shows off her original train ticket from when she first crossed the Grafton bridge. Adam Hourigan

Whiddon Group leisure officer Cheryl Ryan said they were hoping they might get Joan a ticket to the new Grafton bridge when it is opened.

The day was part of Whiddon's relationship-based care initiative Best Week, which involves residents participating in meaningful activities outside of the care home.

The Grafton bridge was approved for construction in 1928, and was completed in 1932, the same year as the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The construction of the bridge was a huge event for the Grafton community and there were large celebrations held at the bigger stages of construction, including ceremonies when the first stages of the footings of the bridge were put into place.

The Grafton Bridge, informally known as the 'bendy bridge', is unique for the Southern Hemisphere and is one of the largest bridges of its configuration in the world.

Its unusual construction features two-way traffic on the top and railway and pedestrian traffic below with an opening span for shipping traffic.

Modern-day infrastructure means the span can no longer be opened as there are water pipes and cables installed on the lower deck.



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