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TO-DAY'S OPENING. City in Festive Dress.
(FROM OUR SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE.)
Bright with crowded life and gaily festooned, what are termed "the twin towns on the Clar- ence"-Grafton and South Grafton-com- menced in earnest to-day the "Back to Graf- ton" festivities, with the arrival of the Gover- nor-General (Sir Isaac Isaacs) for the official bridge opening ceremony to-morrow.
Bright, exhilarating sunshine, suggestive of perfect spring days, has given another radiant touch to the note of rejoicing throughout the district, and to the warmth of the welcome accorded to hundreds of visitors from near
The significance of the event which the dis- trict is celebrating as a red letter occasion in the life of the North Coast, is indicated not only by the big influx of visitors, but also by the fact that the Governor-General is honour- ing the Clarence with what is believed to be the longest Vice-Regal visit in its history. The completion of the bridge will revive interest, incidentally, in the question of a Greater
The interesting fact is recalled that the situation of Grafton, which many believe should have been on high land at Mountain View, was determined by what is a mud hole near the fire brigade station in Wharf-street. Here was the only good water that could be found for miles up and down on either side of the river. Phillips Waterhole, as it was called, attracted the first settlement on this part of the river; and for a long time formed the only water supply.
The Clarence River Bridge at Grafton is claimed to be unique in Australia, if not in
the world, by reason of the fact that it is
a two-deck structure with an opening bascule span to admit of the passage of shipping. The completion of the bridge can fairly be acclaimed as another triumphant milestone in human endeavour and progress, for it not only means the disappearance of a gap in the long line of railway linking the capitals and the States, but it also constitutes an important link, especially from the defensive standpoint, in the projected unified system of railway in Australia. Nor can its value bo over-estimated in the interests of the primary producers, since it opens up traffic in the rich districts, of which the Clarence is the heart. Along the upper deck is the great State highway, which links Sydney and Brisbane, and which, from Sydney across the Harbour Bridge to Queensland, is now known as the Pacific High- way. The lower deck of the imposing structure is for the interstate railway, with footways on either side for pedestrian traffic.
The steel spans are carried on seven huge concrete piers with solid rock foundations in the bed of the river. Every bolt, every rivet, every plate, is of Australian manufacture. One of the piers, as illustrating the task involved in the construction of the bridge, had to be sunk to a depth of nearly 80 feet below mean high-water level. The upper deck is 27 feet above the level of the railway tracks and carries a concrete roadway 22 ft 6 inches wide. The bascule span is the interesting feature of the bridge, and gives it its uniqueness of de- sign, without impairing the general symmetry of the structure. It is made to lift upward by the operation of electric motors, operated by current supplied from the Nymboida hydro- electric scheme. The lower deck of the bridge is about 11 feet above flood levels. The Public Works Department decided to carry out the work itself, with the novel result that the bridge was constructed for slightly less than the original estimates, and with a saving of nearly £80,000. The bridge, with approaches,
cost about £500,000.
RECEPTION TO GOVERNOR
The most interesting speech at the largely
attended reception to the Governor-General at the Town Hall to-day was that by the leader of the Federal Country party (Dr Page). His Excellency was also welcomed in felicitous terms by the Mayor of Grafton (Alderman B. C. Eggins), the Mayor of South Grafton (Alderman C. Schwinghammer), and Mr. A. S. Henry, M.L. A., all of whom spoke of the bridge as another historic milestone in the history of the district and of transport.
Dr. Page, speaking as a native of the town and as its Federal representative, said that the city had made history. To begin with, it was the mother of all the northern settle- ment. It was one of the authors of the original separation movement which managed to secure self-government from Queensland. They hoped it was also going to be one of the sponsors of the self-government of New England, and that before many months had passed the Governor-General would be able to grace that place by his presence in a new Legislature that would govern the destinies of that district. (Applause.) That district was responsible for many distinguished men, and there was no question, because of its past history, that it would, as in the past, be able to hold its own in the domain of self-govern-
The bridge was the result of an untiring agitation for many years, and had now brought the district into close contact with the rest of Australia. (Applause. )
The Governor-General, who was warmly applauded on rising to speak, said that such an occasion as the present was a memorable and conscious step forwaid in national de- velopment. Grafton, on both sides of the
river, was the pivot of a very great and pro- ductive district and had every reason to be proud of its past and its very promising future. The history of the district was the history of a sturdy and indomitable band of men and women who had left their mark upon it and upon the State. It was a history which might well give them all courage at the present hour. The history of the district was one of small beginnings but of many great and fearless strides forward. It was marked by a spirit of undaunted continuity of effort. From the time when that small vessel the Susan first safely began the navigation of the Clarence River, down to the moment the other day when the gallant Ulmarra battled its way back to safety, there had been the same spirit that had transformed their little original settlement to the splendid city of to-day.
His Excellency was afterwards introduced to all those present.
Sturdy pioneers of both sexes passed before the Governor-General (Sir Isaac Isaacs) in almost endless file, and were introduced to him at a largely attended conversazione held in their honour at the School of Arts Hall, South Grafton, this afternoon, under the auspices of the local branch of the Country Women's Association. Among them were Mrs Duckett White whose father was with the first party that settled on the Clarence, Mrs. J. T. McKittrick, herself a pioneer, and the daugh- ter of pioneers who were married on the Clarence River, and Mr. W. J. Hawthorne.
Dr Page, in a speech told the story of how the pioneers settled in the district nearly 100 years ago. Speaking of the first white people born on the Clarence, he mentioned the Haw- thorne, Bawden, Small, McLennan, Maxwell. Ogilvie, and Tindal families,
The Governor-General said that he hoped that the sturdy spirit which the pioneers had displayed and which had enriched this State, would be fostered and perpetuated by the ris- ing generation. His Excellency warmly praised the Country Women's Association and its work.
Among others present were the president of the association, Mrs. T. J. Roberts, Mrs. Earle Page, the Mayors of Grafton and South Graf- ton, and Mr. A. S. Henry, M. L. A. Members of the Junior Red Cross formed a guard of
honour for the Governor-Genera.l
Later the Governor-General was the guest of the local bowling club at afternoon tea at the Grafton bowling green.
Grafton was abandoning itself with zest to the carnival spirit last nignt when, with dramatic suddenness, the whole of the town including the bridge was thrown into com- plete darkness. After about half an hour the lighting system was restored and the vast crowd on the bridge went merrily on its way. The friendly beams of a full moon lessened the discomfiture of the temporary breakdown, which was due to a short circuit on the South Grafton side.
Before the breakdown amid extraordinarily enthusiastic scenes, and in the presence of an enormous crowd, Dr. Page had switched on the bridge lights from the upper traffiic deck. Later Mr. A. S. Henry M.L. A., switched on the lights festooning the bridge. Dr. Page said that to the energy and the survey of Mr. W. J. Mulligan. of Nymboida. the people of Grafton and the north owed the harnessing of the Clarence waters. The Nymboida scheme had made new history by initiation of a flat rate for current so that townsmen and farmers secured their power and light on an equal footing.
A carnival in aid of locaal institutions fol- lowed the switching-on ceremony.