If you’ve paid a visit to the Flowerdale Lagoon in recent weeks, you’ll have seen that work is well underway to replace the old footbridge on the Wiradjuri Trail.
The bridge near the corner of Edward and Moorong streets to the city’s west has steadily deteriorated and, according to Wagga Council’s Parks & Recreation assets officer Rob Owers, is badly in need of an upgrade.
“It also had a large step-up on its eastern end, making it less accessible for people using the Wiradjuri Trail,” Mr Owers said.
“It has now been removed and a temporary crossing for contractors put in place while works are carried out to prepare the site for the installation.”
The new bridge will be three metres wide and 15 metres long, enabling easier access and providing greater durability.
“The footbridge is made of new-technology treated timber with an expected lifespan of 80 years, which is similar to a steel-and-concrete bridge,” Mr Owers said.
The footbridge was one of three high-priority projects identified for the popular 42 km walking track that surrounds the city.
The aim is to “connect the local community and environment, highlight places of significance to the Wiradjuri and First Nations peoples, and transform the trail into a major tourism asset that will benefit our local economy”.
In addition to the footbridge, the plan proposes a new path and improved parking for the Flowerdale Lagoon precinct as well as eventually introducing interpretive signage and bathroom facilities.
Before work began on the bridge replacement, Wiradjuri elder Uncle James Ingram carried out a cultural assessment at the site.
Flowerdale is recognised as one of nine culturally significant “Aboriginal Places’’ around Wagga and Uncle James said it was important to check for First Nations artefacts.
“I wasn’t expecting to find anything there because it was right on the water’s edge,” he explained.
“I was more concerned about the higher ground, which is what we call a potential ‘archaeological deposit area’, because that’s where we’d be working our tools and camping and having fires and meals and those types of things.”
He said the site was originally a place where Aboriginal families gathered and would have been traditionally named for the frogs or “dubu” in Wiradjuri.
“It acts like a large supermarket for us,” he said.
“In more traditional times, you’ll have large volumes of people coming to Wagga to start the ceremonial process on our way to Canberra following the bogon moth that comes up from the Victorian alps.”
Mr Owers said the bridge was on track to be completed within the next month, with the footings and screw piles in place and the concrete footings currently being installed.
Given the awkward position of the project site, a 70-tonne crane will be used to lower the new structure into place.
“The footbridge will provide a safe, all-inclusive crossing of the Flowerdale Lagoon, making walking and riding the trail easy and enjoyable for families and other users,” Mr Owers said.
“It will increase access for people of all abilities and will also enable cyclists to use this section of the Wiradjuri Trail.”
The section of the Wiradjuri Trail between Scott Street and Flowerdale will be closed during the works.