Swan Hill-Murray River Road Bridge | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Swan Hill-Murray River Road Bridge

Item details

Name of item: Swan Hill-Murray River Road Bridge
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Land
Category: Road Bridge
Location: Lat: -35.3378571492 Long: 143.5628632520
Primary address: Main Road 67, Swan Hill (East), NSW 2710
Local govt. area: Wakool
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Wamba Wamba
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT65 DP756603
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Main Road 67Swan Hill (East)Wakool  Primary Address
McCallum StreetSwan Hill (East)Wakool  Alternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Roads and Maritime ServicesState Government 

Statement of significance:

Swan Hill Bridge is significant under all four criteria - Historical, Aesthetic, Technical, and Social. The significance of the bridge lies in its form, setting and materials. The presence of the lift span is important. The appropriate level of significance in NSW is State and likely of National significance. The form and setting have high aesthetic and social significance. The superstructure construction - Allan timber Trusses and Allan Lift Span have very high significance in the detail and materials. The bridge is the original of its type, and extremely rare. (there is one other example at Tooleybuc).
Date significance updated: 23 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.


Construction years: 1896-1896
Physical description: Swan Hill Bridge is a timber truss, steel lift span bridge across the Murray River at Swan Hill. The main axis of the bridge is East - West.
There are three main spans including one lift span supported on cast iron cylindrical piers. On the northern side there are three approach spans, and on the southern side there is one.

The two main truss spans are 27.9m Allan trusses, with timber cross girders. The main stringers have been replaced with steel I-sections. The deck is timber.

The lift span (17.8m) superstructure is constructed with riveted lattice steel. The lifting layout was also developed by Percy Allan. The deck of the lift span is also timber, and traffic is restricted to one lane across the lift span.

The approach spans (10.4m to 10.8m) timber girders supporting a timber deck. Piers are timber trestles, including the junctions with the main spans.

There is a footway added on the upstream side, using steel beams. this has resulted n modification of the top chord stabilising angles to the Allan Trusses.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The bridge is described as being in fair condition as it has had major rehabilitation in recent years. One truss span was repaired in May 1998.
Date condition updated:23 Jun 05
Current use: Road Bridge
Former use: Road Bridge


Historical notes: Sir Thomas Mitchell, the Surveyor General named Swan Hill when he camped there in 1836 on the wide Murray Plain. Mitchell?s head is today the crest of Swan Hill. This area was settled in the subsequent decade in very large stations: on the New South Wales side of the river, Murray Downs under Bell and Wilson covered 60,000 hectares and by the 1860s, under H S Officer, was carrying 6000 sheep. On the Victorian side, the principal runs were Tyntynder and Mercers Vale, established by the Beveridge family as cattle stations.
Because of this pastoral development a punt was installed at Swan Hill as early as 1846. In 1853, when the first two steamers on the river, the Lady Augusta and Mary Ann raced up the river, both stopped at Swan Hill and the Campbell family mounted a ball for the passengers and crew while their wool-clip was loaded. Swan Hill developed wharfage and in the 1860s had two hotels and three stores but only eleven houses. The town continued to develop as a crucial centre for the river trade, overlanding and interstate commerce, with hotels on both sides of the river adjacent to the punt.

The Victorian railway reached Swan Hill in 1889 and the need for a bridge was more and more recognised. A lift-span bridge, allowing the passage of the river-boats, which were still numerous in this area, was planned in 1895 and opened in 1896. The bridge is still in use: Swan Hill, with good road, rail and water links, reached a population of 4000 by 1948, remains the focus of a large area of diversified farming and attracts many tourists to its open-air museum.

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 Swan Hill Bridge is historically very significant. It is hard to differentiate between Historical and Technical Significance in this instance as they are closely intertwined. This bridge has great importance for its association with Percy Allan, who is respected as the outstanding bridge engineer in NSW. In his 46 yeas in the Public Service he designed over 550 bridges, including several outstanding structures. Swan Hill Bridge was one of his major works, and a significant advancement in technology. He was extremely proud of this bridge and prepared a technical paper on it. The bridge demonstrates a major step in the evolving pattern of our moveable bridge history.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Swan Hill Bridge has aesthetic significance due to its outstanding setting and landmark qualities. The bridge provides a gateway to NSW from the major urban area of Swan Hill. It is a focus of the town to the river, which it dominates by its size and mass. The setting within the town of a lift bridge is rare, being only duplicated (with RTA bridges) at Tooleybuc.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Swan Hill Bridge has high significance in the Swan Hill / Wakool District as the main urban link across the river and the focus of movements across the river, controlling access of people and commerce. The river is the centre of social and recreational region, and the Swan Hill Bridge is the centre of this area. It is considered an important element in the Region by the local people, although there is concern at its perceived traffic inadequacies.
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 0148120 Jun 00 --
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage registerRoads & Traffic s.170    

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism 2007Swan Hill-Murray River Road Bridge View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Swan Hill-Murray River Road Bridge View detail
WrittenR.B. Ronald1960The Riverina: People and Properties
WrittenR.P. Whitworth1866Baillieres New South Wales Gazetteer and Road Guide
WrittenW.C. Foster1985Sir Thomas Livingston Mitchell and his World, 1792-1855

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

rez rez rez 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: 5051385
File number: H00/00311/1

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.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.