The fearless Story Bridge painters

Can you imagine painting the iconic Brisbane Story Bridge structure, 44m above the roadway and 80m above the Brisbane River, without safety harnesses or scaffolds, just planks to walk and sit on? Well, that’s how it was done in the 1950s!  Seems scary or even crazy to us now, but they were agile and used to it and many even smoked on the job! Obviously they had no fear of heights and enjoyed the views.

These three photos from Sandra Hobbins’ family album show how her father, Eric Hobbins, and his offsider carried out their work for over 25 years from the 1950s. “It took them six years to paint the first undercoat, then back again to do the top coat.” Sandra’s father was also a tap dance teacher, which might explain his agility.

According to Council records, currently (2018) the bridge is repainted every seven years using 17,500 litres of paint and covering 105000 square metres of steel surfaces.