With the increase of inland river traffic across mainland Australia during the latter half of the 1800s, opening bridges had to be constructed at various strategic locations. Movable span bridges were built during the period 1874-94, with the North Bourke Bridge built across the Darling Harbour in 1878 and formally opened in 1883.
The Balranald Bridge built over the Murrumbidgee River and completed in 1882, was designed by J. H. Daniels. It was a wrought iron lattice bridge, with independent towers and longitudinally orientated chain wheels. This design was to prove problematic, the towers deflecting inwards and pinching the lift span. In addition to this, the lifting mechanisms at each end of the span were independently operated, creating difficulty in achieving a uniform lift and making jamming more susceptible
during its operation. This same design was also adopted for the North Bourke Bridge
built in 1883, to be modified in 1896.
Source: Movable Span Bridge Study – Volume 1: Vertical Lift Span Bridges, I. Berger, D. Healy and M. Tilley, March 2015, NSW Government, Transport Roads & Maritime Services / GHD
The historic North Bourke Bridge served as a Gateway structure for 114 years before being bypassed by the concrete build in 1997.
Following is the view from the eastern bank of the river of the North Bourke Bridge, looking south. You can see the ‘lift-up’ section of the bridge. Just through the trees and on the other side of the historic bridge, you can see the currently used bridge.
|Views of the ‘lift-up’ section of the North Bourke Bridge. The pulleys and cogs system can still be seen.|
The cable components of the bridge mechanism on the North Bourke Bridge.
Lantern holder on the North Bourke Bridge, NSW.
The main bridge over the Darling River was a very expensive all-iron structure, involving imported wrought iron from England, most of it carted 400 miles from Bathurst with some by river boat from Echuca. It was more than a technical achievement. It was a political statement from successive Governments in Sydney against the poaching of its riches from the wool trade by South Australia and
Victoria. The bridge provided easy direct access for wool teams to the railway in Bourke which arrived in September 1885, thereby avoiding difficult river bank loadings of barges.
Source: Plaquing Nomination for the 1883 Lift Bridge, North Bourke, NSW, Engineers Australia
Footnote & References
- Engineers Australia, Plaquing Nomination for the 1883 Lift Bridge, North Bourke, NSW as a National Engineering Landmark, https://portal.engineersaustralia.org.au/system/files/engineering-heritage-australia/nomination-title/North_Bourke_Bidge_1.pdf
- Movable Span Bridge Study – Volume 1: Vertical Lift Span Bridges, I. Berger, D. Healy and M. Tilley, March 2015, NSW Government, Transport Roads & Maritime Services / GHD, https://roads-waterways.transport.nsw.gov.au/documents/about/environment/protecting-heritage/moveable-span-bridge-study-volume-1-vertical-lift-span-bridges-part-1.pdf