Caroline Kemp hopes Gympie will save its history starting with this ageing railway bridge.
Caroline Kemp hopes Gympie will save its history starting with this ageing railway bridge. Craig Warhurst

Local history under threat

ARCHITECTURAL designer Caroline Kemp wants Gympie residents to take their history seriously and get behind saving historical structures like the threatened Mary Valley Heritage Rail footbridge.

Ms Kemp, a Gympie resident, who tried to save another near-by pedestrian overpass that was pulled down recently, said she wanted to know what council was prepared to save.

“The bridge is part of the precinct and experience. The vernacular of Gympie is its timber and tin. Where does it stop?” she asked.

Railway Hotel manager Brenda Portch, who has said she would chain herself to the bridge instead of seeing it pulled down, said signatures on a petition she started to save the iconic structure were flowing fast.

“The whole community is against pulling it down,” she said.

Ms Kemp, who is studying to become an architect, said she wasn’t surprised to read council had budgeted to remove the MVHR owned bridge instead of fixing it, which was a shame.

“The Gympie Regional Council and the elected members of this shire seem to have adopted an attitude of blatant disregard for the historical architecture and structures of the town,” she said.

“During the past seven or eight months the town has lost a number of structures of historical significance.

“The convent on the site of St Patrick’s Catholic School and Church, the Cobb and Co stables and most recently the Mellor Street foot bridge that linked Lady Mary Terrace to the platform of the historical railway.

“It’s not about the bridge, or the stables or the convent...Every time we loose a piece of Gympie’s historical built environment, we lose a bit of what makes this place the place it is.”

MVHR manager Jim Walker said so far no external assistance had been found to help save the bridge. “We’re still interested to hear solutions,” he said.

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