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the Breeze

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Around our islands, the subject of a ‘bridge’ keeps popping to the surface.

There are some people who are adamant that a ‘bridge’ is going to be built, and our politicians keep getting reminded that a ‘bridge will solve all our problems’.

To some, a bridge will bring about a rise in the price of land and homes on our islands, and will provide a connection for better essential services.

To others, a bridge to our islands would be only a bridge to just ‘one island’ and the ‘special island’ way of life would be lost.

All of this harks back to another time when ‘anything’ seemed possible in Queensland.

Jo Bjelke Petersen was in power and there was a group of ‘developers’ who became infamously named the ‘white shoe brigade’.

Macleay island resident, Margaret Linneth, has a vivid memory of the very first ‘bridge war’.

That’s because prior to moving to Macleay in 1993, she had previously lived on North Stradbroke Island for 15 years.

It was in 1982 that the ‘original’ bridge war occurred.

And the bridge was never to be a bridge to the smaller Bay Islands and to Russell Island, but a bridge to North Stradbroke Island; always perceived as the ‘holy grail’ of Moreton Bay Islands.

“It became quite serious at the time,” Margaret remembers.

“There were protests, marches and a whole campaign from North Stradbroke Island against the bridge concept.

Margaret said there were apparently two areas of thought to getting a bridge to Straddie.

“One was a low-set bridge from the mainland to Peel Island and then onto Dunwich.

“Another was for a bridge firstly to Russell Island and then onto the southern end of North Stradbroke.”

Margaret said she played a small part in the protest, with people like Ellie Durbridge to the fore in the fight against a permanent link to the mainland.

The development mindset at the time was that ‘anything was possible’ in South East Queensland, no matter the consequences.

“I was asked to contact all the politicians involved at the time to find out their position on the bridge proposal.

“It was a nightmare. They kept changing their minds and it became somewhat of a challenging task.”

Margaret says the island fear that if a bridge became a reality, all of pristine North Stradbroke Island would be up for development.

At the end of the day, the protests had the desired effect and a bridge to Straddie never became a reality.

Ironically, the issue never got down to an actual vote. With a change in Government the issue lost its impetus and faded away.

Being a bit of a Bower Bird, Margaret kept the posters and other information that was produced at the time against the proposal.

The entire saga, however, planted a seed that exists to this day, particularly on Russell Island.

Many ‘older’ land owners purchased land on Russell in the 80s and 90’s on the basis that a bridge would one day link the island to the mainland.

It persists to this day.

Could it be that another ‘bridge battle’ could still be on the horizon?

Margaret Linneth and the ‘anti’ bridge poster of 1982

A cartoon produced for a Gold Coast magazine.

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