Grafton Rowing Club History: Grafton Bridge
Australian Rowing Professional
Flooding Grafton
Early Shipping on the Clarence

Grafton Bridge - Page 1

This photo of the bridge over the Clarence River at Grafton shows the 61 metre (200 ft) steamer "Ulmarra" heading downriver. This photo was taken in the 1930s or 1940s. The bridge span cannot be opened anymore - there is little need now as shipping traffic is non-existent, and it is also impossible to open the span now as water pipes and telephone cables have been installed on the lower deck.

The bridge was approved for construction in 1928, and was completed in 1932 (the same year as the Sydney Harbour Bridge). It is of unusual construction with two way traffic on the top deck and railway and pedestrian traffic below and an opening span for shipping traffic. It is unique in the Southern Hemisphere and is one of the largest bridges of this configuration in the world.

Prior to the bridge being built, traffic was carried across the river on vehicular and passenger ferries. The trains were also carried across on boats - the passengers had to get off the trains and travel across on one of the ferries (they were given priority for places on the ferry), whilst the train carriages were transferred across two, three or four at a time. One of the train barges still exists on the southern bank of the river just west of the bridge. The barge is called the "Induna", but is now just an overgrown, rusting hulk. The other train barge was called the "Swallow".

The Induna carrying rail carriages across the Clarence River (sometime between 1925 and 1932)

This method of railway river crossing was not used anywhere else in Australia.

Grafton Bridge - Page 2