The Bridge

This is the foot of the West Gate, Melbourne’s longest bridge. They’re doing work on it here; that line in the right-hand side of the picture is a hundred-metre-long power cable. The scaffolding on the other side is to allow the workers to get up to the Bridge itself. They’re installing suicide barriers.

When I was young, a journey across the West Gate meant we were going to see my grandparents. The view was fantastic. On the way back, the city lights were the most beautiful thing in the world. We’d sit in the back seat – me, my brother and my sister – swaddled in blankets and eating hot chips and pieces of steaming-hot battered flake from metal cups. The Bridge meant family, and homecomings.

A sometime-associate of mine once told me how he’d watched the Bridge once, in the early morning. The fog had begun to lift across the city but it still clung stubbornly there. As the morning traffic came, it pushed the mist off the West Gate in great billowing clouds that floated down, evaporating by the time they reached the ground. If it had been a special effect in a movie you would have sneered at it, he said, for being too unrealistic, too fanciful. He saw it, though.

The pillars you can see there are a memorial for when the Bridge collapsed. One for every worker who died. A dead-straight, sobering line of evenly spaced stones that runs for longer than you’d imagine.

It’s funny how different something looks, depending on where you view it from.


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