Wallerawang rail bridges over Cox's River | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Wallerawang rail bridges over Cox's River

Item details

Name of item: Wallerawang rail bridges over Cox's River
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Bridge/ Viaduct
Location: Lat: -33.4054133050799 Long: 150.08330428636
Primary address: Main Western Railway, Wallerawang, NSW 2845
Local govt. area: Lithgow
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Bathurst
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1115 DP1204803
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Main Western RailwayWallerawangLithgow  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Rail Infrastructure CorporationState Government 

Statement of significance:

This 1870 bridge is significant because it is one the oldest stone arch railway viaducts in New South Wales. It is associated with John Whitton the 'father of New South Wales railways', it is an impressive sandstone structure on the outskirts of historic Wallerawang, its construction contributed significantly to the subsequent railway extension to Bathurst and on to western New South Wales and when John Whitton was denied funds to continue with the expensive wrought iron girder bridges he chose the stone arch viaduct for his major bridge works, particularly for the Zig Zag east of Lithgow and the extension west to Wallerawang. It is the largest of Whitton’s stone arch viaducts. It is a fine representative example of a stone arch railway viaduct and it retains its original fabric.
Date significance updated: 15 Mar 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: Engineering staff of NSWGR
Builder/Maker: Day labour
Construction years: 1870-1870
Physical description: The bridge is a significant technical accomplishment. It has seventeen stone arch spans totalling 139.6m and is the longest masonry arch bridge ever built in Australia. Its main span of 16.5m is also large, being the fifth longest of its type for its age (1870). It is also unusual in having an elliptical arch rib. The main span is flanked by stone buttresses or columns which extend above the deck. The treatment of the spandrel is unusual in that the radial joints of the arch rib are extended out to fill the entire spandrel space The bridge is thus an integral part of a section of the New South Wales rail system of immense historical significance. (RNE)
brick double track underbridge over Cox`s River, 1923, RNE, HS


Historical notes: By the early 1900s the original single track from Bowenfels to Wallerawang was inadequate for railway operations so plans were made to duplicate that section of line and at the same time ease the grades and flatten some curves.

A major programme of similar works was begun in 1910 and continued until the mid 1920s
but, because steel was an expensive import from Britain, the dominant material for bridging the many waterways was bricks, mostly from the 1912 State Brickworks at Homebush and mostly in the form of brick arch culverts and viaducts.

The quantity of bricks used in the programme was enormous and the period could be aptly described as the ‘era of the brick arch’.

Normally the 6.1 m (20 feet) clear span would have been bridged by a simple steel plate web girder, but the shortage of steel meant a continuance of brick arch construction.

The Bowenfels to Wallerawang work was delayed until after World War I.

This bridge is easily accessible via Springvale Lane which is off the Mudgee Road, SE of the Wallerawang Power Station.

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 Engineering the public railway system-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
This bridge is part of the Bowenfels to Wallerawang duplication, the last of such works dominated by brick arch construction.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The duplication work contributed significantly to the railway extension to Bathurst and to the continued development of Western New South Wales, for land transport to Sydney.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The brick arch was still the most common form of railway bridge in the early 1920s due to the shortage of steel after World War I.
SHR Criteria g)
It is a good representative example of brick arch construction.
Integrity/Intactness: The bridge 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 0106402 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


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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5012261

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