Sunday, December 15, 2013

The West Gate Bridge Disaster - a possible close encounter

A Face Book friend of mine put me on to a great site where people post photos of old Melbourne. I spent most of Saturday arvo just going over some of the contributions. There are some really fascinating photos of yesteryear. Being interested in architecture, automobiles and bicycles of the past, you can imagine the time I wasted in place of mowing lawns, and other forms of house duties. These photos brought back some memories - the one below is one of them - only because it shows a Citroen Traction Avant, a car that I've owned several over the years.

Around 1970, Melbourne's western suburbs were divided by the Maribynong river from the Melbourne CBD. To get across you needed to drive further inland to cross the river or take the ferry. During that time the Melbourne Airport was being built and for a few months in 1970 and I worked as a labourer at the Airport. When the contract was over, the company had another contract on the West Gate Bridge project that would unite the city to the western suburbs. Fortunately I gained a position in sales with an electrical manufacturing company.
I say fortunately because one of Victoria's major disasters was the collapse of the bridge during the period of the construction.

The Williamstown Ferry
The West Gate Bridge today looking towards the Melbourne skyline.

Just before lunch on the 15th October 1970, the West Gate Bridge suddenly groaned. An eerie pinging noise filled the air. A storm of rust flakes peeled off weathered steel. The girders started to turn blue. The bridge fell away beneath their feet. Minutes later, 35 workers were dead. Only

The Melbourne Sun's report.

The view to the west from Melbourne.


  1. Interesting post, Somewhere in the back of my mind I seem to remember reading about this but it is very vague.

    Hope that you have a good Christmas and we wish you all the best for 2014. D & N

    1. Diane - Christmas this year will be only very close family of Sue and I with the boys, Andrew and Mitchy, my daughter Carly and possibly some morning visitors. Our tree is up and the front door has the Chrissy thing as a welcome so we are all go.
      All the very best to you and the big bloke.

  2. Hi Leon,

    I am interested in the picture you have of Westgate bridge today for possibly displaying as wall art for my cafe. Coudl you conatct me and let me know if thsi would be possible and if you ahve access to the original file.

    Thanks Angela

  3. I assume you are aware that the 3rd photograph above is of the Tasman Bridge in Hobart.

    1. I was going to share the same information. There were no cars on the Westgate at the time of the accident, the image you have shared is the Tasman Bridge in Hobart after a boat hit one of it's piers and a central section collapsed on 6th January 1975.

  4. You've gathered some great images and shared your personal point of view of an unforgettable point in Melbourne's history which is so important to do! Thank you so much for sharing!


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