Photo Of The Day



Moment in Time

FOUR decades have passed since the Lake Illawarra crashed into the Tasman Bridge ? but neither the memories nor the fascination have dimmed in the hearts and minds of Tasmanians. The shipwreck has become a diver site ? divers intent on scouring and photographing the mass of metal in the murky depths of the Derwent.

What became of the Monaro that was on the Tasman Bridge?

One of the cars, a V8 Monaro is synonymous with the day and viewer Glen Dillon, who?s written about the bridge?s collapse for an online encyclopedia, wants to know what happened to the car.

We?ll get to that later, but first the harrowing events that brought the Monaro to the brink, claimed the lives of 12 people, and cut a city in two.

Frank and Sylvia Manly, their daughter and Sylvia?s brother, were in the Monaro that night.

[Sylvia Manly] We were coming home rather late and as we got towards the bridge we could look over and we could see that there were no lights but there were lights at Montagu Bay and there were lights at Lindisfarne and Frank thought there might have been a smash on the bridge so we slowed down.

[Frank Manly] We didn?t know we were in danger till it was too bloody late.

What they and the other cars approaching the bridge didn?t know was that a bulk carrier, the Lake Illawarra, carrying 10,000 tonnes of zinc ore concentrate, had just smashed into the bridge.

Ross Gates, then a journalist with the Hobart Mercury covered the story that night.

[Ross Gates] The ship got out of line and it ended up very close to the eastern side of the river. At the last minute they tried to correct the steerage of the ship but it was too late. It knocked out one of the uprights and that brought down two of the spans on the bridge. The big concrete spans crashed on to the ship itself and within minutes the ship was sinking in about 30 metres of water.

[Sylvia] I was sitting in the passenger seat, he was doing the driving and slowing down and I was peering out through the windscreen to see what was going on and I turned around and said to Frank ?stop, the bridge has gone?.

[Frank] I turned around and said ‘I can?t, I can?t’. I hung onto the steering wheel and hit the brakes real hard and that was it.

They had pulled up with barely inches to spare.

[Frank] The car was like a seesaw. I thought it was going to go, I thought the car was going to go.

Once out of the car, they attempted to warn the oncoming motorists of the dangers ahead.

Down below, it wasn?t long before various watercraft were looking for survivors.

In the aftermath it was discovered that 5 crew aboard the Lake Illawarra and 7 motorists in 4 cars lost their lives. But across the whole city, the ramifications were even broader.

[Ross] The full impact of the disaster, I don?t think, was felt until the following morning when 50,000 eastern shore residents woke up to find that their link with the city had been cut. The first day was just chaos trying to get across to work. The whole situation bred enormous discontent from people especially on the eastern shore because it took about 3 years to repair the bridge.

As for the Monaro – well Frank and Sylvia have still got it.

Although they keep it in good condition, it rarely gets a run. Sylvia doesn?t like it ? not because of that night 34 years ago ? she just doesn?t like it – and Frank prefers his other car ? in fact, it?s done so few km?s he hasn?t had to change the tyres in 28 years!

As for its future ? well, they haven?t made plans to part with it – yet.

[Sylvia] Perhaps it might go to a museum or something like that, I?m not sure. If someone can come up with big dollars, we?d definitely sell it. (laughs)

The Monaro on the Bridge?