Barmah bridge chaos as NSW closes its borders

By Riverine Herald

RESIDENTS of Barmah have been thrown into chaos following the closing of the Barmah Bridge as part of the NSW Government’s decision to shut down its borders with Victoria.

The bridge was closed well in advance of the 11.59pm deadline, catching many people out who were looking to cross into NSW before the deadline.

One of 55 identified crossings the 1000km length of their shared border, the bridge’s closure forced drivers to turn around and head for the Echuca-Moama bridge – 33km to the west.

While locals were expecting the bridge access to NSW to be guarded, there was no clue to it being permanently blocked; even if Victorian drivers had permits to make the crossing.

With bollards and plastic walls blocking entry and no extra lighting, locals have taken to social media claiming the situation is just waiting for an accident.

On its Facebook page, the Barmah Hotel expressed concern at how the operation had taken place.

“Officially closed. No reflective lighting, poor lighting and I hope to God there is no accidents,” the staff wrote.

“They have set up and gone. Just bollards here.”

Local resident Mat Gissing, also on Facebook, said he had no choice but to step in and act as a traffic supervisor, directing vehicles away from the dimly lit blockade.

"Don't worry Moira Shire Council and Murray River Council, I'm doing your job for you and directing traffic," he wrote.

"I'll be the bearer of bad news and tell them the bridge is shut and directions to get across the border. But who do I notify when someone hits the barrier? I can't call the ambos (sic) coz (sic) they can't get here... lucky I have got my first aid kit."

The NSW government said it has dispatched hundreds of extra police and Australian military to setup and man as many crossings as possible. There has been suggestions drones will also be used to monitor the more rugged and isolated crossings, such as far east Gippsland.