Tea Gardens Police and the opening of the Tea Gardens-Hawks Nest Bridge

Tea Gardens Police patrol car on site at the bridge construction in 1973, driven by Senior Constable Craig Thomas.

THE occasion of the opening of the bridge on 6 April 1974 was very special for the local townships and surrounding areas.

During its construction Tea Gardens Police maintained special patrols of the construction site on both land and water.

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Anticipating a large crowd at the opening an extra contingent of ground Police was organised from nearby stations, with the Port Stephens Water Police Launch “Valiant” stationed at Tea Gardens and manned by then Senior Constable Craig Thomas to be on stand-by adjacent to the bridge on the Tea Gardens side of the river to cover any eventuality.

The opening went off with a big splash.

During the opening proceedings the unexpected happened. A young man stripped off his clothing and ran naked from the Moira Parade side of the bridge to near the top of the arch and jumped over the rails into the Myall, landing only a few metres from the stern of the Police launch.

The “streaker” was promptly apprehended and conveyed to Tea Gardens Police Station where he was charged with “offensive behaviour”, such an act being much frowned upon in those days.

With the weather and water temperature being quite cool at that time of the year, he was provided the luxury of a blanket.

He was bailed to appear at the next sitting of the Tea Gardens Court, where he was convicted and fined, and entered into a recognizance to be of good behaviour for a period of time.

It was obvious that the streaker didn’t properly plan this adventure and didn’t see the Police launch before jumping off the bridge.

This act was viewed by some as a comical incident, however the situation may have been much worse if the launch had been closer to the bridge, as he may have landed on the boat with dire consequences.


Tea Gardens Water Police launch ‘Valiant’, used for patrol at the bridge opening commanded by Senior Constable Craig Thomas.

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