Heritage and conservation register


Field Value
Name of Item Bridge over Gwydir River at Bundarra
Item Number 4301681
Type of Item Built
Item Sub-Type Iron Lattice Bridges
Address **** Regional Road 73 Bundarra 2359
Local Government Area Uralla 
Owner Roads and Traffic Authority
Current Use Road bridge
Former Use Road bridge

Statement of significance

Field Value
Statement of significance The iron lattice truss Bridge over the Gwydir River, completed in 1881, has significance because:

* it has been an important item of infrastructure in the history of New South Wales for over 120 years,

* it was a technically sophisticated bridge structure for its time,

* it has strong aesthetic lines and enhances the aesthetics of the environment,

* it contributed significantly to the social and commercial development of the New England region of New South Wales.

* it is an excellent representative example of this type of bridge.

This bridge has been assessed as being of State significance.

Date Significance Updated 13 May 2009


Field Value
Designer John A McDonald
Builder F A Franklin
Construction years **** - 1881
Physical description The Bridge over the Gwydir River is a major bridge. It is a 5-span, high level Bridge over a wide river with a severe flood regime. It has the same deep, rectangular lattice trusses of John A McDonald's early designs, but does not have the diaphragm-tied piers of so many of the other lattice bridges. Here, the concrete-filled iron tubes are simply cross-braced.

It has five main spans each 39m in length and four approach steel girder spans supported on a stone abutment. The overall length is 204m and the Bridge is 5.6m wide between kerbs.

Physical Condition
Archaeological Potential
Original condition assessment: 'The Bridge is in good condition.' (Last updated: 19/03/2001.) 2007-08 condition update: 'Good.' (Last updated: 17/4/09.)
Modifications and dates ****
Date condition updated 17 April 2009


Field Value
Historical notes The Bridge over the Gwydir River is an iron lattice bridge and was completed in 1881.

Iron lattice bridges are the most significant bridges of the colonial period. They were the major bridges of their time and carried the burgeoning road network across many of the major rivers in New South Wales. Whereas the construction of timber truss bridges extended over a long period, from the 1860s to the 1930s, and was associated with three prominent engineers in the Department of Public Works (Percy Allen, E M de Burgh and Harvey Dare), the construction of the iron lattice bridges was confined to a short period, from 1881 and 1893, and all were designed by bridge engineer John A McDonald.

The lattice truss is an example of British bridge technology and they appeared in large numbers in the British colonies of Australia, particularly in New South Wales and Victoria and a few examples in the other colonies. These bridges were almost the exclusive choice for large rail and road bridges such that in New South Wales, 41 of these bridges (27 for roads and 14 for railways) were built between 1871 and 1893. Most were in the Hunter Valley and New England region.

They were a more economical form of construction than the heavy cellular girder bridges, requiring only about half the amount of iron, but the iron was still an expensive import (rolling marks such as BUTTERLEY, SHELTON and BURBACH appear on iron elements of many of the bridges). In terms of costs, indexed to the year 2000, the iron lattice bridges would have cost around $9,000 per square metre of deck whereas for timber truss bridges this unit cost would only have been around $1,500. Despite the high initial costs of the lattice bridges, their durability and low maintenance costs have meant that in the long term they have been very cost-effective structures. The iron lattice bridges were, to the colonial period, what reinforced concrete bridges were to the period 1930-60 and prestressed concrete bridges have become since the 1970s.


Field Value
Heritage Listing Reference Number Gazette Number Gazette Page
Register of the National Estate       
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register       
Local Environmental Plan  101  159  5510 

Assessment of Significance

Field Value
Historical Significance The Bridge has high historical significance as it is on a main road. It is a large bridge with long spans over a major river, indicative of the then burgeoning road network. It has historic associative value based on its ability to represent the endeavours of local settlers, with their need for safe and reliable access across the Gwydir River. It is associated with bridge designer John A McDonald. It significantly helped open up the north of New South Wales.
Historical Association ****
Aesthetic/Technical Significance Aesthetically, the Bridge with its long lattice trusses presents an imposing yet attractive reminder of the past. It has strong aesthetic lines that enhance the aesthetics of its environment. As such, the bridge has aesthetic significance.
Social Significance Because of their numbers, the complete set of lattice truss bridges gain high social significance. The Bridge also has great significance to the local community, as is evident from the community holding centenary celebration. The centenary celebrations for the 100-year-old Gwydir Bridge at Bundarra was the largest celebration ever to occur in living memory of the residents. The Bridge has contributed significantly to the social and commercial development of northern New South Wales.
Research Significance The Bridge has high technical significance because of its integrity and good condition, which contribute to its ability to demonstrate aspects of technology, design and style in bridge construction. The Bridge is a good example of British bridge technology.
Rarity ****
Representativeness A good representative example of an iron lattice truss bridge.
Integrity/Intactness Intact
Assessed Significance State


Field Value
Type Author Year Title

Study details

Field Value
Title Year Author Inspected by Guidelines used
Study of Heritage Sig. of pre 1930 RTA Controlled Metal Road Bridges in NSW  2001  Cardno MBK    Yes 

Custom fields

Field Value
Roads and Maritime Services Region Northern
Bridge Number 3763
CARMS File Number ****
Property Number Bridge
Conservation Management Plan ****


Bridge over Gwydir River - Long Oblique view
Bridge over Gwydir River - Long Oblique view

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