The experience of Hampden Bridge
First you have to slow down and stop before you can even cross, as Hampden Bridge’s width only caters for a single lane of traffic. You need to check for others. This gives you time to take a look at its sandstone towers which resemble the entrance to a medieval castle.
Next you are acknowledged, by the oncoming drivers, with a little gesture to say “thanks for waiting while I cross”. A social courtesy life doesn’t always offer.
Moving forward you trundle over the deck, hearing your wheels rumble over the bolts that hold the hard wood decking. Peer down to swimmers and canoes playing in the water and hear their joyful calls. After heavy rain you can listen to the river rushing past. Notice how the pedestrians on the bridge can feel the bridge move as it takes your car’s weight. Being a suspension bridge it is supposed to brace itself and calmly carry you over. Looking forward you travel through the hand crafted smooth stone gateway that announces your arrival to the other side.
Now it’s your turn to give a little wave to those who have patiently waited for you to cross. Hampden Bridge is part of your journey and in the words of the Rev J Graves, “to journey (can be) better than to arrive”.
Heritage is something somewhere that gives you feeling
Your village and places you pass on regular journeys all become familiar sites that can make such places ‘home’ and give you a sense of belonging.
Australia’s beautiful natural landscapes and wildlife, its traditional wooden and stone homes and quaint villages all create this unique sense of traditional country life. To the many people who live in Kangaroo Valley, Hampden Bridge is part of their landscape and sense of place. To the commuters who regularly pass through the valley, Hampden Bridge offers a pause in the journey’s rush. For visitors, Hampden Bridge is worthy of having your picture taken there as a unique memory of their hard earned holiday.
Hampden Bridge is physically made of local sandstone, Australian hard wood and steel cables shipped from England. But its intangible qualities are also what make it so special.
What does heritage actually mean to you?
Usually people consider heritage to be large buildings, monuments and cathedrals. But we would argue that Hampden Bridge is not just Australia’s last wooden suspension bridge, but that it also has a special meaning to each and every one of us who use it regularly or visitors who come to see it. Tell us what the bridge makes you feel.
Come and take a visit
Kangaroo Valley’s quaint village offers great local cafes, shops and galleries. You can take this historic walk through the village and down to the Hampden Bridge, the Pioneer Museum Park and beyond to the National Trust listed landscape.