The area of Alexandra Bridge is situated along the Brockman Highway near Karridale in the State’s south-west and was named in honour of the bridge. The bridge was built over the Blackwood River in 1897 to allow easier access to the new timber mills in the east.
The bridge was in fact essential for the timber industry to expand in the east, as neither trains or carts could not easily cross the river. The government gave the contract to the construction firm of John Wishart and M.C. Davies, who would later build the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse .
The original bridge was 400 feet (121.9m) long and 17 spans wide. In 1968 another bridge was built nearby to replace the old bridge.
The original bridge was left to stand quietly in the shadows until 1982 when the Blackwood River flooded during a summer storm, taking the bridge with it. All that remains today are the original stumps.
Also along the river between the old bridge and the general store is a memorial cairn (heap of stones) marking the location of the “Adelphi” homestead which was built by the Bussell Family , who were pioneers of the area. Ironically, the homestead burnt down on Guy Fawkes Day in 1833.
During the early years of Group Settlement the area grew and the small community known now as Alexandra Bridge grew too. A general Store (Clarke’s), a hall and a few homesteads were established. During this era, when the mail was still delivered by horse and cart, the horses would often rest outside the Clarke’s General Store. The Store was frequented by the Group Settlers who would come to stocked up on provisions and get an update on the local gossip.
Dave Clarke, who owned the store, knew all the comings and goings of the area and was quite happy to share a yarn or two. The mail which came through twice a week, was collected from nearby Playfords (otherwise known as Camp Hill). Camp Hill was the location of one of the first Group Settlement camps, known as Group 78. Electricity was not connected to the area until December 1965.
Today, Alexandra Bridge is a popular picnic spot nestled amongst the Jarrah trees and scenic Blackwood River. During spring the area is also carpeted with wildflowers. Also, nestled in a natural amphitheatre, overlooking a tranquil lake is the local Alexandra Bridge Winery.
There is a fantastic camping area just off Brockman Highway, on the banks of the Blackwood River . This tranquil haven features a stunning array of birds and wildlife. Just turn left off on the first road after Alexandra Bridge heading into town. The camp site has toilets, showers (cold), rubbish bins, water and a boat ramp. From the information I have sourced no bookings are required for this camp site. I have still to find the origin of the bridge’s name, but I am assuming it was named by M.C. Davies.