Tooleybuc Bridge over Murray River | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

About us

Tooleybuc Bridge over Murray River

Item details

Name of item: Tooleybuc Bridge over Murray River
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Land
Category: Road Bridge
Location: Lat: 143.335292 Long: -35.03050458
Primary address: Main Road 222, Tooleybuc, NSW 2736
Local govt. area: Murray River
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Wamba Wamba
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT1 DP585209
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Main Road 222TooleybucMurray River  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
former Wakool Shire CouncilLocal Government 

Statement of significance:

Tooleybuc Bridge is assessed as being of State Significance, primarily on the basis of its technical and historical significance. It is a representative example of all Allan timber truss road bridges. The vertical 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. The Tooleybuc Bridge is the last of the timber truss bridge’s with lift span built over the Murray River and reflects a pivotal point in NSW’s history where the importance of navigable rivers as trade routes is failing. Allan trusses were third in a five-stage design evolution of NSW timber truss bridges, and were a major improvement over the McDonald truss, which preceded them. Allan trusses were 20 per cent cheaper to build than McDonald trusses, could carry 50 per cent more load, and were easier to maintain. Completed in 1925, the Tooleybuc Bridge is an Allan type timber truss road bridge, and has an Allan type vertical lift span to allow river craft to pass. 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.
Date significance updated: 08 Jul 09
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: Tooleybuc Bridge is a timber truss and steel lift span bridge across the Murray River at Tooleybuc. The main axis of the bridge is North-South.

There are three main spans including one lift span, supported on concrete piers. On the northern approach there are no approach spans, but there are three approach spans at the Victorian end.

The two main truss spans (21.8m) are of the Allan Type. These trusses support timber cross girders and steel longitudinal stringers. The latter are unusual and are probably replacements of the original timber stringers. The deck is timber.

The lift span (17.8m) superstructure is of riveted lattice steel, including the main support girders. The lift span has been converted recently to allow hydraulic operation. The lift span deck is timber on steel girders.

The piers to the main spans are concrete with oval diaphragms giving a similar appearance to the cast iron piers under older bridges. The piers are protected by sheet pile cofferdams and filling.

The approach spans (2 x 9.1, 1 x 7.3) are timber girders. There are five girders to each span supported on timber corbels. The piers to the approach spans, and the junction of approach span to main truss, are all timber trestles.

There is no footway, but there is a timber handrail except on the lift span which has a pipe handrail.

The deck is 8.5m above flood level.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Original condition assessment: 'The bridge is in fair condition having had considerable maintenance in previous years.' (Last updated: 18/05/1998.)

2007-08 condition update: 'Poor.' (Last updated: 17/4/09.)
Date condition updated:17 Apr 09
Modifications and dates: N/A
Current use: Road bridge
Former use: Road bridge


Historical notes: Tooleybuc lies on the extreme west fringe of the saltbush plain, a semi-arid or arid area created by sediments from the Murray-Darling flood waters. The saltbush provided useful fodder and the Murray frontage in this area, as in others, was largely taken up by 1847. Tooleybuc was on the Puon Buon run, part of the 1840s pastoral empire of Ben Boyd, the whaling entrepreneur of Twofold Bay. In the 1850s Puon Buon was owned by William Degraves and then Christopher Bagot: in the 1860s the Trust and Agency Co. ran 32000 sheep there and in the late nineteenth century J Lawrence held the property and ran 50000 sheep. The high stocking was encouraged by the almost permanent lakes on Puon Buon. Development of the township of Tooleybuc was assisted by the sub-division of the huge station just before the First World War. The Tooleybuc area subsequently became the seen of intensive agriculture, with fruit-growing the principal cash-crop.

The river steamers were fundamental to the wool-trade in the nineteenth century; so was easy communication across the river. A vehicular punt was in operation by the 1870s, with a riverside hotel (the Tooley Buc) on the New South Wales side. Finally in 1925, in response to pressure from fruit-growers, the present lift-span bridge was erected by the Department of Public Works, just upstream from the old privately-owned punt. The bridge was designed by Percy Allan, and was his final lift span bridge.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences (none)-
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)-
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)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The only two surviving Murray River bridges with Allan truss spans, or Allan designed lift spans are Swan Hill and Tooleybuc. Swan Hill was the first of its type to be constructed anywhere, and Tooleybuc the last.

The bridge has regional historical significance through this association with Percy Allan.

It also has local historical significance in the evolving pattern of river traffic.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Tooleybuc Bridge has aesthetic significance due to its setting and size. Within the town it has landmark qualities.

The bridge provides a gateway to NSW and the town of Tooleybuc. It dominates the river valley which provides the focus of recreational activity in the township.

The setting is not rare on the Murray River, being similar to Swan Hill.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Tooleybuc Bridge has significance to the adjacent towns as the main crossing of a major barrier to communication (the Murray River).

The bridge is a focal point to transport, and also provides the only gateway between the States of Victoria and NSW.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The bridge is similar to other bridges, in particular Swan Hill.

The lift span and Allan trusses are important remnants of earlier technology, but are not rare unless others are destroyed. Should the Swan Hill Bridge be significantly altered or demolished, Tooleybuc would be the only remaining example of Allan truss, or Allan lift span. Its significance would then be greatly increased.

The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) has reported on Swan Hill Bridge

While opportunities exist for upgrading, any works should conform to the requirements of the Burra Charter i.e. that form, scale, colour, texture and materials should be maintained.

The table in the written study (see references- heritage study) is based on experience of changes proposed on other similar bridges, and observations of problems on this bridge.
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 ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2) OF THE HERITAGE ACT 1977

Standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977.

I, Donald Harwin, the Special Minister of State 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, effective 1 December 2020:

1. revoke the order made on 11 July 2008 and published on pages 91177 to 9182 of Government Gazette Number 110 of 5 September 2008 and varied by notice published in the Government Gazette on 5 March 2015; and

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

Donald Harwin
Special Minister of State
Signed this 9th Day of November 2020.

To view the standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 click on the link below.
Nov 13 2020

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0148220 Jun 00 --
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage registerRoads & Traffic s.170    

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism 2007Tooleybuc Bridge over Murray River View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Tooleybuc Bridge over Murray River View detail
WrittenR B Ronald1960The Riverina People and Properties
WrittenR B Ronald1960The Riverina People and Properties

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

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 NSW
Database number: 5051386
File number: H00/00310

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.