29 November 2021

Gundagai's Prince Alfred Bridge timber salvaged for posterity

| Edwina Mason
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Prince Alfred Bridge in 1956

The now demolished Prince Alfred Bridge, as photographed in 1956. Photo: State Library of NSW.

For residents of Gundagai, all that remains of their beloved Prince Alfred Bridge viaduct is a bulldozed scar across the town’s floodplain.

And the big question is: what happened to all that timber?

Demolished Prince Alfred Bridge

Around 460 cubic metres of timber and trestles have been salvaged from the Prince Alfred Bridge viaduct site. Photo: Daniel Hewart.

Since demolition work started on 2 November, 2021, around 460 cubic metres of timber and trestles have been salvaged from the site to support construction of heritage memorial works.

While the structure’s prompt removal was necessary in the interests of public safety due to ongoing deterioration, one little known fact is that actions were taken to prevent bats breeding in the timber structure.

With the December breeding season looming, bat boxes were installed adjacent to the bridge to provide additional roosting points as an adaptive measure while the bridge was removed.

Additionally, one whole timber trestle and six half trestles from the timber road viaduct have been salvaged for use in future interpretation works, and have been transported to Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council’s depot for storage.

A further eight timber trestles – which have been cut to 1.5 metres – will remain in the ground.

They’re located north and south of O I Bell Drive to commemorate the former position of the bridge.

Any reusable material saved during the removal of the timber road viaduct is being stored for potential future use, including memorial options for the bridge.

Demolished Prince Alfred Bridge

All that remains of the historic Prince Alfred Bridge is the bulldozed scar of earthworks across Gundagai’s floodplain. Photo: Janice McLennan.

Waste material from the timber road viaduct has been chipped and transported to the nearest waste facility.

Meanwhile, a public survey seeking community input on memorial options for the former Gundagai icon has attracted 139 submissions.

A heritage consultant will now be engaged to assess the survey results and advise on the most appropriate heritage memorial options to honour the bridge’s memory

NSW Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said survey ideas for heritage memorial works range from a picnic wharf on the Murrumbidgee River, to pedestrian bridges, a boardwalk and viewing platforms.

“Other ideas included a sculpture that can be a tourism icon such as the Dog on the Tuckerbox; an avenue of trees and walking track; and interactive options, including virtual reality or 3D laser displays,” said Ms Pavey.

“St Patrick’s Primary School students made suggestions, including park furniture, a mini replica of the bridge, and even a town Christmas tree.”

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Roderick Smith11:49 am 11 Jan 22

How much of the timber could be incorporated into the disaster new Powerhouse Museum to make it resemble the real powerhouse instead of looking like a fast-food outlet? Otherwise sell for craft furniture. Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much removal of a shabby exterior to reveal beautiful Australian timber. A church in Kerang (Victoria) made all of its furniture from timbers from a collapsed railway bridge on a closed railway. Anything but burning.

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