Barham Bridge over Murray River | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Barham Bridge over Murray River

Item details

Name of item: Barham Bridge over Murray River
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Land
Category: Road Bridge
Location: Lat: -35.6305418729 Long: 144.1247088680
Primary address: Main Road 319, Barham, NSW 2732
Local govt. area: Wakool
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Moama
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Main Road 319BarhamWakool  Primary Address
Cobwell Street (off)BarhamWakool  Alternate Address
Thule Street (off)BarhamWakool  Alternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
former Wakool Shire CouncilLocal Government 

Statement of significance:

Barham bridge has significance under all four criteria - Historical, Aesthetic, Technical and Social. The significance of the bridge lies in its location, for setting, and materials. The form and setting have aesthetic and social significance. The bridge may have higher overall significance as a member of the Murray Crossing Group, as a representative of a rare example of a representative type.
Date significance updated: 28 Jun 05
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: Department of Public Works
Builder/Maker: John Monash
Construction years: 1904-1904
Physical description: Barham bridge is timber truss, steel lift span, bridge, generally two lanes wide across the Murray River between Barham in NSW and Koondrook in Victoria. The main axis of the bridge is N-S.
There are three main spans including one lift span, supported on cast iron piers. There is one timber approach span at each end, supported on timber trestle piers. The lift span (17.8m) is of lattice steel construction, both the for tower and the main girder. The design is similar to that developed by Percy Allan and first used at Swan Hill nine years previously, but shows some variation from that layout, and those used later at Tooleybuc and Abbotsford bridges. The Barham Bridge has the counterweights on the main axis side of the supporting columns, while the others have them on the cross axis. The cross girders on the top of the structure are unusually curved and decorated. The changes may be due to the fact that the design was undertaken under Ernest de Burgh who had also changed timber trusses from Percy Allan?s design.
The tow other main spans (31.7m) are timber trusses of the ?de Burgh? Type. Tis truss was developed by Ernest de Burgh as an improvement on the Allen Truss. The truss used a steel bottom chord. The truss supports steel cross girders and steel longitudinal stringers. The deck is timber. The approach spans (9.1m) are timber girders on timber trestle piers. The deck is timber. A section of the deck has been segregated for pedestrians with a kerb and handrail on all spans except the lift span. The main piers are cast ion and are protected by cofferdams. The bridge has a clearance over normal water level of 5.1m.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The bridge is in good condition having been extensively repaired in recent years, due to a major rehabilitation of the timber trusses.
Date condition updated:15 May 98
Current use: Road bridge
Former use: Road bridge


Historical notes: The Murray around Barham was settled by graziers, mainly from Victoria, in the 1840s. by 1850 all the really desirable water-frontages on both sides of the Murray had been taken up as far upstream as Barham while the open plain to the north in New South Wales was only notionally divided into undeveloped backblocks. Barham station itself (named after the maiden name of the wife of the first grazier, E B Green, had a 32 kilometre frontage on the Murray, carrying a modest head of cattle in the mid Victorian period under a series of owners. With similar developments on the Loddon River, which converges with the Murray north of Barham, a crossing of the Murray was needed and a ferry was provided for stock and people.
In 1902 it was agreed that a bridge with a lift span should be built, thanks to local political pressure on both the NSW and Commonwealth governments. The first piles were driven in 1903 and the bridge opened in 1905.

Barham lies in the Wakool Irrigation District, opened in 1935l. This was the first such district in the state, with extensive, partial irrigation designed to provide water for the maximum number of graziers to ensure a regular supply of fattened lambs. In 1949 an intensive irrigation area within the district made rice farming feasible, increasing local heavy traffic. there have been particularly severe problems from salientian, however, in the last quarter-century.

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 Barham Bridge has historical significance as a rare example of a type of bridge which shows the evolving pattern of bridge design in Australia. The De Burgh timber bridge was only built for a brief period between 1899 and 1904. There are only nine remaining, and only two associated with lift spans, Barham and Cobram. These two bridges are also the only examples of ?De Burgh? lift spans. The bridge was built by Monash and Anderson. The bridge has historical significance through the association of John Monash with the bridge. Monash is arguably both one of Australia?s most famous engineers, as well as one of the country?s most famous soldiers.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Barham bridge has aesthetic significance due to its outstanding setting and landmark qualities. The bridge provides a gateway to NSW and the town of Barham. It dominates the towns due to its height and mass, providing the major landmark in the district. The setting is particularly fine, situated on the edge of the town and crossing the river amidst parklike lands and trees.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Barham bridge has high significance to the local and district residents as the gateway between Barham and Koondrook, NSW and Victoria. As the towns are not large there is considerable commuting across the bridge for services that are not duplicated in both towns. The bridge also provides a focal point between town and river. The river is the main geographical feature in the area, and the centre for most recreation. The bridge acts as a reminder of river transport and attracts large crowds wherever river traffic passes through. For example, one lady, who has seen hundreds of river bots pass through he bridge, still rushes to see each new opening.
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 0145620 Jun 00 --
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage registerRoads & Traffic S.170    

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism 2007Barham Bridge over Murray River View detail
Written  Border Journal
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Barham Bridge over Murray River View detail
WrittenG Serle1982John Monash: A Biography
WrittenI Jack1986Regional Histories of NSW
WrittenR.B. Roland1960The Riverina: People and Properties
WrittenRTA Environment Branch2009Proposed rehabilitation works on Barham Bridge over the Murray River Barham, NSW : statement of heritage impact

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

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5051354

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