Gundagai rail bridge over Murrumbidgee River | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Gundagai rail bridge over Murrumbidgee River

Item details

Name of item: Gundagai rail bridge over Murrumbidgee River
Other name/s: Murrumbidgee River Railway Bridge, Gundagai
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Bridge/ Viaduct
Location: Lat: -35.0733155212 Long: 148.1044630200
Primary address: Cootamundra-Tumut railway, Gundagai, NSW 2722
Local govt. area: Gundagai
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Brungle/Tumut
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP1179861
LOT2 DP1179964
LOT3 DP1179987


The viaduct is included as an item with the land upon which it immediately stands extenGundagaiding to the Prince Alfred Bridge. It is included with the road bridge which is not specifically included in this listing but which is integral with the rail bridge.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Cootamundra-Tumut railwayGundagaiGundagai  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Rail Infrastructure CorporationState Government 

Statement of significance:

Gundagai is a major crossing of the Murrumbidgee River by the Hume Highway to Victoria, and the Tumut branch railway. The railway reached the town in 1886.

Gundagai is a highly significant site with an excellent group of buildings and structures from the late 1880's. In particular the relationship of the station, yard and early timber road and rail viaducts adds to the particular significance of the area.
The timber viaducts are of very high significance because of their size, their pairing and their construction as examples of an early engineering solution to crossing a major flood plain. Their national significance is recognised by listing by the National Estate.

This viaduct is an example of timber bridge construction on a grand scale. A multi-span, high level viaduct of timber deck trusses and timber trestles, it is one of the most impressive structures in Australia. It dominates the crossing of the Murrumbidgee flood plain more so than the adjacent low level timber beam road viaduct. Its combination with the steel truss over the river makes for a unique technical juxtaposition of bridge types.
Date significance updated: 02 Jun 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: Railway Construction Branch staff, Public Works Department
Builder/Maker: Day labour
Construction years: 1903-1903
Physical description: A 77-span timber deck truss, 35-40 feet spans, on tall timber trestles
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is good.
Date condition updated:28 Apr 06
Current use: Currently out of service, pedestrian use.
Former use: Carried single track Gundagai-Tumut Line


Historical notes: During the Whitton era, 1856-90, there was a government edict for railway construction to use as much local materials as possible instead of expensive imported iron bridges. Whitton used stone arches and some brick arches but mostly timber in the form of laminated arches, timber beam bridges and timber trusses.

His successor was his Deputy, Henry Deane who, following a visit to the USA instigated a policy of cheaper railway construction known as Pioneer Lines beginning in the late 1890s. Most inland rivers were crossed by a new series of timber trusses based on the American Howe truss. Only under special circumstances were steel trusses used.

There were two types of timber trusses, the large span 62 feet through trusses and the shorter 35 – 40 feet deck trusses. Upgrading replacements have reduced the survivors to 3 sites with through trusses and 5 sites with deck trusses. All but one are on lines that have suspended traffic.

At Gundagai there is a mix of both bridges policies. The main channel of the Murrumbidgee River had to be crossed by a high level major steel truss bridge but, in order to contain railway construction costs, the long, high level viaduct across the flood plain was built from timber in the form of 77 deck trusses on timber trestles.

It is timber bridge construction on a grand scale.

The total crossing had to be built first so as to provide access to South Gundagai and the railway construction beyond to Tumut.

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]
The Gundagai-Tumut Railway was one of the early branch lines built cheaply as a developmental railway. It was not sufficiently profitable to justify upgrading despite the heavy cost of crossing the Murrumbidgee River.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
A high level structure on timber trestles, it one of the most imposing bridge structures in Australia.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Murrumbidgee railway crossing was essential to the social and commercial development of the district south of the river.

Since the closing of rail services, the historic features of the railway have been successfully promoted such that the railway crossing is now a prominent tourist attraction.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The Murrumbidgee flood plain crossing at Gundagai was the largest application of the new type of timber deck truss bridge spans. It is an impressive example of the bridge carpenters’ skills.
SHR Criteria f)
There are only five sites with timber Howe deck trusses.
SHR Criteria g)
It is a spectacular representative example of a timber Howe deck truss.
Integrity/Intactness: The structure retains its original fabric.
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 SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, 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:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

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

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0103902 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Rail Infrastructure Corporation s.170 Register2003 Rail Infrastructure Corporation  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism 2007Gundagai Rail Bridge over Murrumbidgee River View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Gundagai rail bridge over Murrumbidgee River View detail

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

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

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5012044

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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