Yarra River Bridges - History Snippet 5

Zigzag Bridge

We now have a brand new cycle bridge over the Yarra at Alphington Grammar School and we all know Kane’s Suspension bridge at Studley Park Boathouse and the Yan Yean Pipe Bridge at Fairfield Park, but do you know of the Zigzag bridge?

Kane’s Bridge was built in 1928 , washed away in the 1934 flood, and rebuilt that same year. According to Heritage Council of Victoria, this 1934 rebuild “resembles the earlier bridge which crossed from the Yarra Bend Asylum to Kew (Asylum)”, which is our “Zigzag Bridge”. Similarly, the Pipe Bridge started out in the 1880’s as simply two pipes crossing the river to carry water to Kew and Hawthorn from Yan Yean Reservoir, a walkway being added when a third pipe was installed. 1934 flood washed the bridge away and was rebuilt in 1937. The walkway clearly was not maintained as I remember, as a boy in the late 50’s, jumping across missing planks on this walkway to get to Fairfield Park. This bridge was restored again in 1982.

What of the “Zigzag Bridge” then? As recorded in “Yarra – a diverting history”  by Kristin Otto, we learn that ‘Footbridges have gone from madness to beauty the Kew Footbridge, also known as the Zigzag Bridge (Bellbird Picnic area site) , ran between the two lunatic asylums of Yarra Bend (the bluestone gateway remains just near the bridge over the Eastern Freeway within Yarra Bend  Park ) and Kew (Willsmere Hospital). Despite being serially damaged and patched high and low as a result of flood – ultimately zigzagging several levels – it was not demolished until the early 1930’s. The bridge had earlier been used to shift stone quarried in Yarra Bend for the new Kew buildings, and then for the movement of staff between the two institutions, also, later, Fairfield Hospital staff.’


There is a map indicating the site of the Zigzag bridge but, thus far, I have been unable to find a photo.