Pot holes at the approach to Tysons Bridge make it difficult to negotiate.
Pot holes at the approach to Tysons Bridge make it difficult to negotiate. Ute Schulenberg

Thora waits as crews bridge gap

WITH reports of more than 300 people still isolated up the Thora Valley, I was given the task of venturing as far as I could to find out what was happening with the recovery effort.

Hobarts Bridge, about six kilometres from Waterfall Way and the critical bridge for Chrysalis School, was open with water still lapping the deck.

Die Happy Bridge (10km) had just been re-opened, with safety tape across half the western entry to the deck due to the loss of a pylon.

So far so good. But not for long.

The narrow, tricky manoeuvre around the potholes at the eastern end of Tysons Bridge (13.5km) was just too risky in my vehicle.

I turned around and was on my way back when I passed Trevor Davis, Bellingen Shire Council's works supervisor.

What luck, he was heading up the valley and didn't mind if I hitched a ride.

Next stop, and I mean stop, was Richardsons Bridge, where a huge hole full of running water blocked the eastern access.

Neighbouring landowner Greg Law was standing on the riverbank surveying where his land had once been.

“Well at least it's better than bushfire,” he said.

The water was not, however, too deep for the 4WD and we splashed through the current and continued.

Plains Bridge was next.

And here the gaping washout at the eastern end was truly impassable.

Thick silt also blocked the approach.

Mr Davis said there was a lot more silt this time around.

“The ground is just so wet from before, it doesn't take much for things to erode,” he said.

On the way back I dropped into Orama Public School, which has been open for the past two days with only four students.

By the time I headed up the hill from Die Happy Bridge council workers were clearing the sizeable landslip that had all but blocked the road pavement.

Late yesterday road asset manager, Warwick Knight, said the council would continue working its way up the valley to clear whatever was possible to get people out.

He said the loss of Justins Bridge, 21km up Darkwood Road, was the biggest problem.

“Two spans have gone from that bridge and there are 10 families on the other side - it's a major headache,” Mr Knight said.

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