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The history of salt baking by the Keri Tribe in South Simbu - 1

A bridge too far from a time long ago

Remnants of the Alimbit bridge alongside the newer steel bridgeHARRY TOPHAM

IN the late 1960s I was a young patrol officer based at Kandrian in West New Britain when a new patrol officer by the name of Col Probyn arrived.

Col was a mature age recruit and in a previous career had been in the Army Engineering Corps.

Col was soon put to work constructing a large timber bridge over the inland Alimbit River.

This was a difficult task as there was no machinery on hand and all the timber had to be felled from the surrounding rainforest, snigged by hand to the bridge site then, using gantries, manouevered into the foundations.

It was slow and arduous work involving 30 to 40 men dragging down the logs over timber runners.

It took Col almost all of the first contract term of 21 months to finish the bridge.

I never saw the final product as I was transferred elsewhere but I was told it was both a monumental edifice and functional for its designed task.

Unfortunately the timbers used were not treated and the bridge eventually rotted away.

Some 25 years later, whilst on a return holiday to Kandrian, I ventured inland along the remnants of the Kandrian inland development road and, as we reached the Alimbit River, I noticed that the current bridge, although missing many of its timber planks, was of a more robust steel construction.

Stopping to take a picture I could not fail to notice that, alongside the steel bridge, were the remnants of Col Probyn’s previous handiwork, its decaying wooden pylons standing as silent sentinels to past endeavors long forgotten.


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Arnold Mundua

It would be great to post a photo of Col's bridge in this blog together with the article.

In the photo you can see the piles of the old bridge (all that remains) to the right of the present bridge - KJ

Arnold Mundua

I saw the remains of this bridge when I was a forest officer based in Kandrian in the late 90s and had often wondered about these rotting structures. Now I know how and who had them there. Good story.

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