THE Bulga and Milbrodale communities are preparing to celebrate their link with the horse and buggy era – Bulga Bridge.
Saturday October 27 will be a day of festivities to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Putty Road timber truss structure that crosses the Cockfighter Creek.
The bridge, which was completed in 1912 at a cost of 4873 pounds, has national and state heritage significance through its association with the expansion of the New South Wales road network, technical excellence of design and structural detail.
The bridge is actually the second one built at Bulga.The first, also a timber structure, went up in 1879 but was attacked by termites and was replaced by the current bridge.
Bulga resident Stewart Mitchell said: “The present bridge is a landmark that’s reached a milestone and people from Bulga and Milbrodale are happy to have lived along side it, proud that it’s reached 100 years and hopeful that it’ll be here for another 100.
“This is a vibrant and growing community and the bridge forms an integral part of the infrastructure that supports our social fabric.
“It has made access to Singleton much easier, before it was built people had to go via Warkworth to town.”
There are numerous notable aspects of the current bridge, including its two truss spans which are both 32 metres long.
There are three timber approach spans at one end, and two at the other, giving the bridge an overall length of just over 129 metres.
Its superstructure is supported by sheeted timber trestles that provide a minimum carriage width of 5.5meres.
It is a representative example of bridges designed by Harvey Dare who was a leading Public Works Department engineer and prominent figure in the early 20th century.
The bridge has aesthetic significance in its rural landscape setting and also demonstrates other historically important concepts such as the gradual acceptance of New South Wales people of American design ideas.
The October 27 centenary celebrations will begin at 10am with a bridge opening re-enactment and ribbon cutting, followed by a procession led by Singleton Town Band over the bridge, and down Inlet Road to the Bulga Recreation Ground.
The procession will include horse-drawn sulkies, wagons and drays, vintage cars and motorbikes, a small bullock team, two people dressed as light horse brigade officers, other locals on horseback and pedestrians in period dress.
A fair will then be held on the recreation ground involving food and craft stalls, folk music, Rural Fire Service display, rural and farm demonstrations, a children’s jumping castle and a display of old engines and tractors.
A memorabilia display in Bulga Community hall will feature a wooden mallet that was used by local pioneer Mrs Susanna McAlpin in opening ceremonies for the original 1876 Bulga Public School and the first Bulga Bridge.
The display will also have farm implements such as a meat mincer and butter churn, kitchen utensils and old photographs and books.
A free shuttle bus will run from 11am to 2pm to five historic properties - a brick home built in 1879, two slab timber cottages built in the 1840s, the original Bulga Public School, plus Saint Marks Anglican Church which was built in 1888.
A grand ball in the hall that night (with optional period dress) is expected to draw a full house of 120 people to dance along to the 50/50 Hunter Valley band, The Entertainers.
Bookings are essential for the $20-a-head do by ringing Phil Reid on 6574 5237.
Mr Mitchell said: “The bridge was built in a transition period between horse-drawn and motorised vehicles, it made transportation a lot easier, and it still does.
“The Roads and Maritime Services Department has spent in excess of $5million in the past 10 years preserving it, so its historic significance should be here for all to appreciate and use for a long time to come.”