Last week Cycle Action Auckland invited me along for a walk doing with the NZTA along the Grafton Gully Cycleway route. What I ended up finding most interesting about the walk was not the details of the cycleway itself but what the project will do to the area, but it also gave me a new appreciation for the Grafton Bridge.
The areas that the cycleway will skirt around, the Symonds St cemetery and the bush clad gully, are really a bit of hidden gem. The only people who seem to venture into the area at the moment tend to be a bit undesirable as they are often under the influence of various substances and this understandably has put the rest of us off visiting. This probably isn’t helped by the cemetery also being is a state of disrepair as probably not much has been done since the motorway was rammed through it in the 60s. The gully itself is littered with all kinds of rubbish from old tires (heap of them) to shopping trolleys and everything in between. The cycleway is prompting the restoration and clean up of these areas and the presence of more people, will add to safety. In many ways, what this project really seems to be doing is creating a brand new park close to town and one that is quite unique from others in the city. When people first start to ride and walk down through this new connection I get the feeling that they will be quite surprised by it.
The other thing is the Grafton Bridge. The structure has always been impressive but looking at it from a distance, driving underneath it at speed, or even walking across it, you don’t really get a good appreciation for just how big and impressive the structure is. Again I think people will really be surprised and seeing it from ground level has well and truly enshrined it as my favourite bridge in the city, if not the country.
But its also worth looking back and seeing how things used to be, so here are a collection of shots showing just how much of the bushland we have lost to the motorways.
Just imagine if we could have retained that bush, the area could have been such an excellent natural park on the edge of town.