The Tasman Bridge Cars: Hobart, Tasmania, January 1975 – Stopped In The Nick Of Time


One of the nice things about getting older is being able to remember events as they happened. And, for each of those events, there usually sticks in the mind an image that forever remains a kind of shorthand for the whole thing.


Such an image lingered in the back of my mind when I recently did a post on an EK Holden wagon; I knew the image was there, but it eluded me at the time. Well, it took a few weeks to surface, but now it has I think it’s well worth sharing. I think these pictures give you the general idea.


Image © Ben Short Photography

The image is of an EK Holden wagon and another car forever perched on the edge of the partially collapsed Tasman Bridge, in Hobart, Tasmania. (Tasmania is Australia’s island state, at bottom right on the map).

On the evening of 5 January 1975, the captain of the Lake Illawarra let his vessel collide with some of the bridge supports. A large part of the deck fell into the Tasman River. Seven crewmembers were trapped in the sinking ship, and five unwitting motorists went over the edge.


I haven’t been able to determine the fate of the EK, but the other car, an HQ Holden Monaro GTS, is definitely alive and well. The couple in the Monaro that night, Frank and Sylvia Manley, kept the car and it still looks a treat. Frank and Sylvia tell their story in this short video.

It’s a jaw dropping account, put matter of factly by a pair of no-nonsense Tassie folk who came about as close as one can to a horrible end and still live to tell the tale. (You’ll notice it’s also a record of an accent from a certain time and place)


The HQ range brought the second generation Monaro. The sporty ‘GTS’ was one of three variants initially available when the HQ range was released in 1971. The others were the basic, hose-out Monaro (no suffix) and the luxury-oriented, chrome-laden ‘LS’. A four-door Monaro GTS (i.e. a tarted-up version of the HQ family sedan, the Belmont/Kingswood/Premier) came along a bit later.