Thursday, 7 January 2016

Wedderburn Bridge


Wedderburn Bridge (photo: Dennis Townend)
A bridge over the Georges River at Wedderburn Gorge was first built in 1892. It replaced a nearby ford. The bridge was wooden and was built by Jim and George Kershler. The Kershlers had also built the bridge at Frere’s Crossing further downstream. The bridge had been built for horse drawn traffic only which therefore made it unsuitable for much of its long life.
In 1935 there was a deputation to the Council regarding the unsafe bridge carrying a seven ton limit weight capacity. This was of great importance to the Fruit Growers Association. The majority of landowners at Wedderburn grew fruit on their orchards. With the weight restriction it meant having to bring the fruit to the bridge and unload it onto bigger trucks for the remainder of the journey to the Sydney markets. The result was more expense and time and a need to repair the inadequate bridge. Council approved and ironbark timber was used in its repair.
Over the years there were many complaints made to council for repairs to the road and to the bridge. In 1978 council banned all vehicles, except cars, from using the bridge. Tests revealed the bridge supports were only 50 percent solid. A temporary bypass road was hurriedly constructed by council. So began the struggle of Wedderburn residents to have a new bridge built.

Wedderburn Bridge at the Georges River, taken from bypass road, 1985

In August 1986 the area experienced major flooding resulting in major damage to the old wooden bridge. Residents were left without access to Campbelltown. Of course this caused great concern, not just for commercial reasons as most of the landholders were still fruit growers, but for possible emergencies that might’ve arisen. A temporary Bailey Bridge was hastily placed across the old wooden one by the army. The bridge was removed later in the year and a temporary concrete causeway was constructed. The causeway however is regularly submerged leaving the Wedderburn community isolated for days.
A decision now had to be made about building a new bridge or using a culvert. The debate was still being argued 20 years later with articles in the local media focusing on the issue. As late as 2014 the issue of a new bridge at Wedderburn again drew media attention. The wait continues.
Sources:
HOLMES, Marie
“Wedderburn”
In Grist Mills, Vol.10, No.2, April 1997
The Macarthur Advertiser, August 13, 1986 p1,6 and August 20, 1986 p1
The Macarthur Advertiser, June 14, 2006 p24
 

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