Carrathool Bridge over Murrumbidgee River | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Carrathool Bridge over Murrumbidgee River

Item details

Name of item: Carrathool Bridge over Murrumbidgee River
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Land
Category: Road Bridge
Location: Lat: -34.4493841166 Long: 145.4173504818
Primary address: Main Road 244, Carrathool, NSW 2711
Local govt. area: Carrathool
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Griffith
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT7004 DP1024205
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Main Road 244CarrathoolCarrathool  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Roads and Maritime ServicesState Government 

Statement of significance:

Completed in 1922, the Carrathool bridge is an Allan type timber truss road bridge, and has a rare Bascule type lift span to allow river craft to pass. In 1998 it was in good condition. As a timber truss road bridge, it has many associational links with important historical events, trends, and people, including the expansion of the road network and economic activity throughout NSW, and Percy Allan, the designer of this type of truss. Allan trusses were third in the five-stage design evolution of NSW timber truss bridges, and were a major improvement over the McDonald trusses which preceded them. Allan trusses were 20% cheaper to build than Mc Donald trusses, could carry 50% more load, and were easier to maintain. The Bascule lift span is a rare feature, and has associational links with the historic river trade, and has much to reveal about late 19th century civil engineering and manufacturing technology. In 1998 there were 38 surviving Allan trusses in NSW of the 105 built, and 82 timber truss road bridges survive from the over 400 built. The Carrathool bridge is a representative example of Allan timber truss road bridges, and is assessed as being State significant, primarily on the basis of its technical and historical significance.
Date significance updated: 26 Jun 02
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.


Physical description: Carrathool Bridge is an Allan type timber truss road bridge with a steel lift span. It has 2 timber truss spans, each of 21.8m (72ft). There are 3 timber approach spans at each end giving the bridge an overall length of 115.5m (379ft).
The lift span is of the Bascule type and is supported on cylindrical twin iron piers. The timber truss spans are supported on timber trestles. The bridge provides a carriage way with a minimum width of 4.3m.

A timber post and rail guard rail extends the full length of the bridge.


Historical notes: Timber truss road bridges have played a significant role in the expansion and improvement of the NSW road network. Prior to the bridges being built, river crossings were often dangerous in times of rain, which caused bulk freight movement to be prohibitively expensive for most agricultural and mining produce. Only the high priced wool clip of the time was able to carry the costs and inconvenience imposed by the generally inadequate river crossings that often existed prior to the trusses construction.
Timber truss bridges were preferred by the Public Works Department from the mid 19th to the early 20th century because they were relatively cheap to construct, and used mostly local materials. The financially troubled governments of the day applied pressure to the Public Works Department to produce as much road and bridge work for as little cost as possible, using local materials. This condition effectively prohibited the use of iron and steel, as these, prior to the construction of the steel works at Newcastle in the early 20th century, had to be imported from England.

Allan trusses were the first truly scientifically engineered timber truss bridges, and incorporate American design ideas for the first time. This is a reflection of the changing mindset of the NSW people, who were slowly accepting that American ideas could be as good as or better than European ones. The high quality and low cost of the Allan truss design entrenched the dominance of timber truss bridges for NSW roads for the next 30 years.

Percy Allan, the designer of Allan truss and other bridges, was a senior engineer of the Public Works Department, and a prominent figure in late 19th century NSW.

Timber truss bridges, and timber bridges generally were so common that NSW was known to travellers as the 'timber bridge state'.

Constructed in response to heightened public pressure for a bridge to replace the river punt, funding for work was drawn partly from the local community, and partly from the Department of Public Works. That the local people had to pay for half of what should have been a national work was deplored by the then Mayor of Hay, who was a vocal advocate for the rights and the development of the Riverina region.

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 b)
[Associative significance]
Through the bridge's association with the expansion of the NSW road network, its ability to demonstrate historically important concepts such as the gradual acceptance of NSW people of American design ideas, and its association with Percy Allan, it has historical significance.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Bascule lift span is a distinctive visual feature, embodying the spirit of late 19th century aesthetics. Further, its function can be clearly seen, and shows unambiguously the innovation which went into its design. The bridge exhibits the technical excellence of its design, as all of the structural detail is clearly visible. In the context of its landscape it is visually attractive. As such, the bridge has substantial aesthetic significance.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Timber truss bridges are prominent to road travellers, and NSW has in the past been referred to as the 'timber truss bridge state'. Through this, the complete set of bridges gain some social significance, as they could be said to be held in reasonable esteem by many travellers in NSW.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The bridge is highly technically significant because it is an example of an Allan truss, and is representative of some major technical developments that were made in timber truss design by the Public Works Department. The Bascule lift span is a rare feature, and has associational links with the historic river trade, and has much to reveal about late 19th century civil engineering and manufacturing technology.
SHR Criteria f)
In 1998 there were 38 surviving Allan trusses in NSW of the 105 built, and 82 timber truss road bridges survive from over 400 built. 3 bascule lift span bridges survive in NSW, and the Carrathool bridge is the only one in a timber truss road bridge.
SHR Criteria g)
Representative of Allan truss bridges.
Integrity/Intactness: Intact
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 0146020 Jun 00 --
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage registerRoads & Traffic s.170    

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: 5051360

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