The old Glebe Island Bridge sits at the entrance to Blackwattle Bay, permanently open and looking neglected, with grass growing through the cracks, peeling paint and rotting wood – ignored in the Blackwattle Bay Revitalisation Plan.

The Glebe Island Bridge was built in 1903 and is regarded as a twin to Pyrmont Bridge which has been fully restored and has enormous community use as a pedestrian and cycleway across Darling Harbour. The Glebe Society has long advocated for its restoration. In 2013 the Glebe Society advocated for the bridge being added to the State Heritage Register and was successful in late 2013. Since then both City of Sydney Council and Leichhardt Council (now Inner West Council) have advocated for it to become a pedestrian and bicycle way. There have also been suggestions of its being used for light rail. It could be an attractive walkway or cycleway for the community to travel between Balmain/Rozelle and Pyrmont and much needed open space for the community.

Glebe Island Bridge – note the yellow buoys placed to protect the crumbling timber from further damage (photo: V. Simpson-Young)
Glebe Island Bridge – note the yellow buoys placed to protect the crumbling timber from further damage (photo: V. Simpson-Young)

It is now permanently open for boats going in and out of Blackwattle Bay. At times in the past it had been closed for walking/running events but the cost of maintaining the machinery to be able to continue doing this has been seen as too expensive. With the building of a marina under the Anzac Bridge, unless the bridge can be opened and closed it will not be able to be used as a thoroughfare. Little if any consideration seems to have been given to the bridge and its community use when the Marina was approved.

An extravagant plan has been laid out for Blackwattle Bay and the only mention of the Glebe Island Bridge is the suggestion that the pedestrian walkway would lead to light rail running across Glebe Island Bridge. There is no inclusion in the plan for Glebe Island Bridge to be renovated and used in the way suggested nor are there plans anywhere else for this to occur. There have been suggestions that the Bridge could house light rail but nothing more. The statement in the Blackwattle Bay Plan seems there to make the plans look more attractive. Without a commitment by the Government to save Glebe Island Bridge it will fall further into neglect with fewer opportunities for it to be used for community benefit.

See the Glebe Society’s Glebe Island Bridge website or on our Facebook page.

Janet Wahlquist
Transport & Traffic Convenor