A spark of inspiration has ignited a push to make a new bridge on the NSW South Coast more than just another concrete construction.
Moruya Business Chamber president Tim Dalrymple wants to see any new crossing of Moruya River become an inspirational work of art, adding to the town’s list of tourist attractions and reflecting the community’s vibrant culture.
“It came to me when I turned on my computer and up came an image of the Dragon Bridge in Da Nang,” he said. “[I] was amazed how it told a story and linked the bridge to the culture of Vietnam.
“I thought, ‘Why can’t we have something like that for our bridge?’ A lot of infrastructure that gets built in this country is just concrete – it’s utilitarian.
“Something like that [Dragon Bridge] is uplifting and inspiring. Imagine going across that every morning? It’s adding a bit of magic and there’s not enough of that in the world today.
“It struck me as something we should ask for.”
Mr Dalrymple said a delay in the announcement of the new route for the Moruya bypass could be a blessing in disguise.
“It will be the middle of the year before they [NSW Government] put forward their preferred route,” he said. “We have got a bit of time. Maybe there’s time to promote this idea.
“Moruya’s culture is rich and the chamber believes if our community can work with Transport for NSW early in the design process, we can have the new bridge stand out on the highway as a striking statement about the Moruya district.”
Mr Dalrymple said the highway off-ramps to Moruya could also link to the design theme selected for the bridge.
“The cost of the bypass will be hundreds of millions of dollars and we hope a fraction of that can be spent on including features that make it beautiful and attract travellers to call into the town,” he said.
“Obviously cost is going to be an issue, but wouldn’t it be amazing to get something with a spark.”
The idea is attracting a groundswell of community support with Moruya Rotary already behind the plan, and online comments flowing strongly in its favour. Some people have suggested Moruya’s famous granite should feature in the design, while others opt for a link to the town’s black swans.
Mr Dalrymple said there were many bridges around the world that had incorporated low-cost design elements to transform them into beautiful objects.
“I haven’t got an artistic bone in my body but it just struck me as worth an ask,” he said.
Meanwhile, Moruya Business Chamber is working proactively to reduce any impact the proposed bypass of the town may have on the retail sector.
“We set up a subcommittee 12 to 15 months ago looking at trying to position Moruya as a destination before the bypass happens to minimise the impact,” said Mr Dalrymple.
“I’m greatly in favour of the bypass, but generally in the first 12 months most places suffer a bit of a downturn.
“Of the three towns in the shire, at the moment, business-wise, Moruya is the strongest. There’s barely an empty shop. There’s not many towns in Australia that could say that.”
With a diverse range of specialty shops, anchored by Australian retailer Harris Scarfe, Moruya seems to be chugging along quite nicely.
“Our business district is still compact,” said Mr Dalrymple. “I think we have a pretty good retail offering here, and we are incredibly lucky to have Harris Scarfe, which people travel to shop at, as well as some quirky little shops.
“On top of that, parking is pretty easy. It’s relatively flat and easy to get around.”