Prince Alfred Viaduct (1896 - 1898)
The Prince Alfred Bridge road viaduct is the fourth longest timber girder struture ever built in Australia, but now the only one that retains it's 19th century form and length.
After major flooding in the 1850's, the Prince Alfred Bridge and Viaduct were built over the Murumbidgee floodplain to ensure that floods at Gundagai did not cut off road communication between Sydney and Melbourne.
The viaduct was constucted onits current alignment in 1896-98, replacing an earlier structure built in the 1860's. It's seventy-six timber trestles carried traffic on the highway linking Sydney and Melbourne for 80 years untill 1977 when the Sheahan Bridge was built over the Murrumbidgee just over a kilometre downstream.
The Rail Viaduct (1903)
The rail viaduct across the Murrumbidgee flood plain is 819 metres long and is the longest timber truss structure ever built in Australia. The viaduct was constructed in 1903 when the branch railway line from Cootamundra to Gundagai was extended to Tumut. Seventy two timber trusses carry the single rail line over the floodplain to the steel rail bridge over the main channel of the river.
The Construction of the viaduct and bridge was a major engineering undertaking for the time, with the cost of building then accounting for seventeen percent of the total cost of the line to Tumut. The rialway line over the viaduct and bridge operated for over 80 years until the Tumut rail service was discontinued in 1984.
The old town of Gundagai was built on the flats where these bridges now cross. The town was first gazetted and surveyed in 1838. The town was flooded about 1 metre in 1844 and 1851.On the 25th June 1852 the old town was destroyed by a flood 4 to 5 metres deep across the flats. There were 78 recorded deaths. This was Australiai's worst natural disaster. An even greater flood followed in 1853. There after the present town site was developed.
Prince Alfred was Queen Victoria's second son. He was the first member of the British royal family to visit Australia. Touring in 1867-68 when he was 23. His visit was very popular and well publicised. He was shot in an assassination attempt at Clontarf Sydney March 1868.
Although he never visited Gundagai this bridge was named in his honour, but not without dissent. Some locals wanted it named after William Macleay MLA who did so much to get the bridge built.
The iron spans of the Prince Alfred Bridge are of unique design. The top chord is continuous and rests on rollarbearings. This section was completed in 1867.
The piers are made up of 6ft thigh by 6ft diamter (Approx 2mx2m) Cast iron drums made at Fitzroy Iron Works Mittagong. They were the first large iron castings made in Australia.
Of all the bridges built across the Lachlan, Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers, the Prince Alfred is the oldest still standing.
It is the second oldest metal truss bridge in Australia and there are only 8 older bridges in Australia.
The timber Viaduct built in 1896 replaced the original viaduct total length of the bridge is 921 meters.
The railway viaduct built in 1903 is the longest timber truss bridge ever built in Australia at a length of 819 metres.
The Sheahan Bridge built in 1977 is the second longest bridge in NSW at 1144 metres 5metres shorter than the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The Sheahan Bridge