Dubbo rail bridge over Macquarie River | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Dubbo rail bridge over Macquarie River

Item details

Name of item: Dubbo rail bridge over Macquarie River
Other name/s: Dubbo Lattice Railway Bridge
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Bridge/ Viaduct
Location: Lat: -32.2438661907 Long: 148.5997101120
Primary address: Main Western railway, 462.762 km, Dubbo, NSW 2830
Local govt. area: Dubbo Regional
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Dubbo
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Main Western railway, 462.762 kmDubboDubbo Regional  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Rail Infrastructure CorporationState Government 

Statement of significance:

The bridge at the end of the yard is one of John Whitton's single track lattice bridges which were typical of the period of construction and is of high significance to the state system. The viaduct in leading to the actual bridge was originally timber but has been replaced by PWG steel.

This bridge is a member of the most significant group of colonial bridges in New South Wales. Collectively, as items of railway infrastructure, they contributed significantly to the history and development of New South Wales. Each bridge is an imposing structure at its site. In terms of contemporary bridge technology the wrought iron lattice bridge was among the best for major bridgeworks.
Date significance updated: 10 Aug 06
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: John Whitton, Engineer-in-Chief for Railways
Builder/Maker: Benjamin Barnes, ironwork by Cochrane & Co, Middlesborough, England
Construction years: 1884-1884
Physical description: A 3-span continuous iron lattice bridge. The spans are 159 feet to centres of piers and the lattice work has 4 triangulations.

The piers of pairs of cast iron cylinders (supplied by Cochrane & Co, England)

The bridge has wrought iron plate web girders at each end of the lattice bridge.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is good.
Date condition updated:10 Aug 06
Current use: Carries the single track Main West Railway
Former use: Carries the single track Main West Railway


Historical notes: During the 20-year period 1873-1893 there was a massive programme of public works in New South Wales, particularly in expanding the road and rail networks. It was a boom period that ended with a severe economic depression.

Despite the boom conditions, the respective Chief Engineers, for Roads (William C Bennett) and for Railways (John Whitton) were constrained to economise by using as much local material as possible, consequently an enormous amount of hardwood timber was used for bridgeworks, mostly timber beam and timber truss bridges.

However, there were many major rivers to be crossed, requiring long span bridges, for which no form of timber bridge was suitable. These large bridges had to be metal and supplied from England, a very expensive import cost to the successive colonial governments.

Both Chief Engineers were British so they chose the widely used wrought iron lattice truss bridge in the half-through form. Twelve of these were built for the railways and 24 for roads.

These two sets of iron lattice bridges are the most significant group of bridges of the colonial period. A high percentage are extant and still in use, 11 on railways and 18 on roads.

The current railway lattice bridges are,

1876 Macquarie River at Bathurst, 1881 Murrumbidgee River at Wagga Wagga,
1881 Macquarie River at Wellington, 1882 Peel River at Tamworth
1882 MacDonald River at Woolbrook, 1884 Murray River at Albury
1884 Macquarie River at Dubbo 1885 Murrumbidgee River at Narrandera
1887 Lachlan River at Cowra.

Two former railway lattice bridges (1885 Georges River at Como and 1886 Parramatta River at Meadowbank) were converted for use by pedestrian/cycle ways.

The 1871 lattice railway bridge over the Hunter River at Aberdeen was replaced by steel girders and demolished.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Twelve wrought iron lattice railway bridges were built in New South Wales during the boom period for railway construction 1871-1887, starting at Aberdeen and ending at Cowra.
Nine of the survivors are owned and managed by the Rail Access Corporation.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
All nine iron lattice railway bridges are imposing structures.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Every iron lattice railway bridge crossed a major river which made it possible for the railway extension to develop the districts reached, socially and commercially.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The iron lattice bridge was a technically sound structure for the bridge technology of the late colonial period. Its strength and durability have shown it to have been a very cost-effective form of bridge.
SHR Criteria g)
Collectively, the iron lattice railway bridges represent a significant class of bridge structure.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2) OF THE HERITAGE ACT 1977

Standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977.

I, Donald Harwin, the Special Minister of State pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales do by this Order, effective 1 December 2020:

1. revoke the order made on 11 July 2008 and published on pages 91177 to 9182 of Government Gazette Number 110 of 5 September 2008 and varied by notice published in the Government Gazette on 5 March 2015; and

2. grant the exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 that are described in the attached Schedule.

Donald Harwin
Special Minister of State
Signed this 9th Day of November 2020.

To view the standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 click on the link below.
Nov 13 2020

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0103202 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     
Institution of Engineers (NSW) Historic Engineering Marker     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenDon Fraser1995Bridges Down Under
WrittenJohn Forsyth Historical Notes for each of the railway lines for each bridge.
WrittenRoss Best and Don Fraser1982Railway Lattice Girder Bridges in New South Wales

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage NSW
Database number: 5011997
File number: EF10/22236

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