Monday, 28 July 2014

Land Bridges - Gundagai

Gundagai is built next to a flood plain on the Murrumbidgee River.  

To ensure traffic, massive land bridges have been constructed across the plain.

Old Gundagai bridges - Prince Alfred to left, Railway to right

Prince Alfred Bridge

Said to be the longest wooden iron truss bridge in the Southern Hemisphere, first opened in 1865, this bridge in final form spanned 922 m (3024').  It was decommissioned after the Sheahan bridge was opened in 1977.  

The bridge was named after Prince Alfred, the second son of Queen Victoria.  He reigned as Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in the final years of the Nineteenth Century.  In command of the British warship Galatea he landed in Sydney - and was subject to an assassination attempt by the Irishman Henry O'Farrell, a lawyer's clerk. Parkes, the Colonial Secretary for New South Wales claimed that this was part of a Fenian plot and feared a general uprising. Prince Alfred was nursed back to health by six nurses trained by Florence Nightingale.

I remember driving over this bridge on a number of occasions - always a memorable event. The surface was uneven, the lanes very narrow and it seemed to go on forever.

Today the bridge is slowly falling apart - in places the road surface has completely decayed.

Welcome to Gundagai, the Premier Horse Town

Railway Bridge

In 1903 a railway bridge was thrown across the plain spanning 819 m (2687').

Sheahan Bridge

In 1977 the prestressed concrete Sheahan Bridge was opened spanning 1,143 m (3,750').

Sheahan Bridge

Peter Quinton
July 2014

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