Thieves take 20-metre iron bridge

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 November, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 November, 2004, 12:00am

Thieves in Australia's sparsely populated tropical north have stolen a 10-tonne, 20-metre iron bridge.

The 115-year-old monument was part of the now abandoned North Australian Railway, which was built almost entirely by Chinese labourers in the late 19th century, linking Darwin to a string of gold mining towns in the rugged interior of the Northern Territory.

Police said thieves had taken the bridge in the middle of the night, using oxyacetylene equipment to cut the bridge from its foundations.

The theft of the bridge, outside Howard Springs, 35km south of Darwin, incensed locals.

'It's a slice of history,' Gerry Wood, a member of the Northern Territory's legislature, said.

'During the second world war it was used extensively to bring troops and supplies up to Darwin to defend northern Australia and fight the Japanese in New Guinea.'

Locals believe at least 10 other bridges have been stolen in the last year.