Thursday 10 April 2008
Legislative Council Hansard

Mr  FINCH (Rosevears) - The fortieth anniversary of the opening of the Batman Bridge linking the two sides of the Tamar, attaching as it were the Legislative Council divisions of Rosevears and Windermere, is not until 18 May.  However, I am mentioning the occasion now to pre-empt any similar move that might come from the member for Windermere.

The Batman Bridge, except for a structurally necessary small foothold on the eastern side of the Tamar, is in my electorate which extends across the Tamar to its eastern shore, the boundary of my electorate.  There is a lot of water and some silt in my electorate.

Mr Parkinson - Wouldn't you be better off facing the camera?

Members laughing.

Mr FINCH - The fortieth anniversary of this vital link will be marked on the bridge itself at 8.30 on Sunday 18 May with a big picnic that has been organised by the Rotary clubs of West Tamar and George Town.

Mrs Rattray-Wagner - Are you providing the sandwiches?

Mr FINCH - We could do - crayfish sandwiches again?

The picnic itself is going to be held on the eastern end of the bridge, as I am sure the member for Windermere is aware.  I will be attending and the member for Windermere will be there too.  The eastern side has a big advantage because there is a bit more room for festivities and there is a beautiful view from the eastern side.  You can actually see the western side of the Tamar and I have always thought that one of the most outstanding features of the electorate of Windermere is the view you get of my electorate of Rosevears

Mr Dean - Not necessarily.

Members laughing.

Mr FINCH - The day is going to feature a walk across the bridge, which will be quite interesting as it is going to be under the roadway.  The general public have never had access to that before, but it is going to be available this year.

The two Rotary clubs organising this year's festivities were involved in the formal opening on 18 May 1968 which was attended by 15 000 people.

Mrs Rattray-Wagner - Any of the same members?

Mr FINCH - You would hope so; that would be a nice long run.

The Batman Bridge was the first cable-stayed bridge in Australia.  It has the sloping A-frame, which you would all be familiar with.  It essentially holds up the bridge and is naturally at the Rosevears end and is an iconic landmark seen from both sides of the Tamar.  The A-frame tower was built at the Rosevears end because there is a solid dolerite rock base rather than the clay that is on the eastern side.

A causeway on the eastern side carries the highway across this softer base supported by four piers built on piles driven 18 metres into the clay, and I will not go into too much more detail of the construction, but it is hard to imagine how, Mr President, we would have done without the Batman Bridge had it not been built in the 1960s.  It is a vital transport link for the economy of the Tamar Valley.

Mrs Rattray-Wagner - We wouldn't need to upgrade the Frankford highway if we didn't have that.

Mr FINCH - Absolutely right, and it is vital for both Rosevears and Windermere.  In fact it would be good to have another such elegant bridge, Mr President, perhaps a little closer to Launceston, but more about that later.

If I might mention, John Batman's father was transported to Australia as a receiver of stolen goods and his son, John Batman, was born in Sydney, came to Tasmania in 1821 - or to Van Diemen's Land, as it was known then - and he developed here as a grazier.  He was very well known for hunting down outlaw bushrangers who were terrorising the country.  He worked towards conciliation with Aborigines.  He spoke their languages and he attempted to stop extermination.  He was well known for his spirit of adventure and determination and was part of the founding of Melbourne.  In fact he sailed over to Melbourne on a ship that was built in my electorate at the location called Rosevears from which we gained the name. 

The old sea captain George Plummer established a shipbuilding business at Rosevears and he built the Rebecca in which John Batman sailed to found Melbourne in 1835.  John Batman remains an important figure in Melbourne's history - really a character with two faces.  You know the good side, I will not go into the other side, but he does keep his legendary status as one of the founders of Melbourne and as an entrepreneur with boldness and flair, better known as a pioneer rather than the builder of that city.  That is John Batman, and the celebration of the opening of the bridge will be on 18 May 2008.