Falls bridge set to be local icon

EXPERTS: The New Zealand bridge builders inspect the plans.
EXPERTS: The New Zealand bridge builders inspect the plans. Rob Wright

IT is already a major lure for tourists but an innovative solution to access problems caused by last year’s storms seems certain to make the Dorrigo National Park an internationally significant destination.

A new pedestrian suspension bridge is being built to allow visitors to see and walk behind the stunning Crystal Shower Falls.

The park’s ranger, Steven Hull, said a New Zealand company had already started work on the project.

“The 50-metre bridge will re-establish a link to part of the Wonga Walk which was washed away during last year’s severe storms,” Mr Hull said.

“Had the walk not been damaged so badly, we wouldn’t be getting this bridge.

“We decided earlier this year it was the best of the many options available to us.”

Mr Hull said the bridge’s timber deck would sit atop cables anchored to steel towers either side of the falls.

“It’s a lightweight but very sturdy construction and, given the remoteness of the site, being able to carry in components was an important consideration.

“The heavier and bigger pieces will be brought in by helicopter over the next week or so.”

The suspension bridge comes with a modest price tag of $220,000 but the benefits to the park and the region are already being counted in the millions.

“Everyone here at the park is so excited about the bridge. It is going to add an amazing dimension to what we offer to tourists and locals.

“Where else in the world will people be able to walk through a world heritage rainforest and not just view one of its iconic waterfalls but be able to walk behind it?” Mr Hull said.

Bellingen Shire Council’s manager of Tourism and Economic Development, Stuart Allardice, expects the bridge will become an iconic attraction for not just Dorrigo but the Coffs Coast.

Weather permitting, the suspension bridge should be finished by the end of the month.

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