May Challenge 2018: Bridges 5 and 6

We could not let the challenge period finish without getting pics of the two bridges that span the Murray River in Corowa. These pics were taken last Monday, before I was laid flat by a rotten cold for much of the past week.

The Murray River is Australia’s version of the Mississippi and its tributaries form Oz’s biggest agricultural foodbowl. I live 1 km uphill from the river, and I ride over into Victoria on almost a daily basis. There are two pics of each bridge. The ‘new’ bridge was opened in 2005 and removed all of the heavy vehicle traffic from downtown Corowa. The ‘old’ bridge is from 1892 and is named after the pioneer who started the townships of Wahgunyah and Corowa. You will note the river is very low in the pictures – this is about as low as it gets. The river level is completely controlled by dams upstream and fluctuates based on irrigation demand. Consequently, it runs low in winter when areas downstream receive rainfall and high in summer when they are trying to grow rice and citrus in a climate not exactly suited to such things. This regime is opposite to how the river would normally run.

The Federation Bridge opened on 23 February 2005 and cost AU$ 21.5 million. It consists of a two-lane, 195 metre bridge over the Murray River and a 95 metre approach bridge (Tim Fischer Bridge) over the floodplain in NSW.
It is a cast on site and push bridge, the first of its type on the Murray River. That means that a 195-metre bridge deck was constructed out of concrete on the northern bank of the river and was then pushed, piece by piece, out over the river until it touched the southern side.
Note how low the river is flowing and how high it flows in summer (water marks on pylons). I am taking this photo about 10 feet into the river bank from the high water mark. Also note all the swallow nests – you will get divebombed by them as you ride under. A bike path on the riverbank on the VIC side takes you downstream to the old bridge.
The Wizard in a spot that would be the domain of boats in summer. We are about 25 feet ‘into’ the river from the normal high-water point here.
Heading onto the bridge from the VIC side. It is a one-lane bridge with a stoplight on each end. It is timber-planked, covered in chipseal. The pedestrian path does have a sign saying to walk your bike (yeah, right), and you can feel the bounce and vibration of the cars as they go past.
Here we are on the NSW bank. Please note the whole of the river is in NSW. VIC starts on the bank on the other side.
The John Foord Bridge is a steel girder and timber truss road bridge of eleven spans, comprising seven spans at 9.1 m., three spans at 10.7m , and the main truss spans of 34.2, 42.7, and 34.2 m. respectively. The timber approach spans are situated on the New South Wales side of the river, with the Victorian side having a high bank.
The bridge is only one lane wide across the Murray River and carries a 5.5m roadway and a 1.5m footway (cantilevered on the upstream side of the main trusses). O’Connor gives Overall Length as 152.3 m. The truss spans are unusual in being half-through continuous trusses. The continuous spans allowed greater span lengths to be achieved with relatively shallow depth webs. The webs are formed from double x2 diagonals. The trusses support riveted iron cross girders and longitudinal timber stringers. The deck on the truss spans consists of timber planking on the metal cross-girders, which rest on top of the lower chords of the trusses. The three main spans are set at a high level alleviating the need for a lift section.
Another unusual feature of the trusses are the curved ends. Cast-iron cylinders form the main piers with large oval perforated web plate between. These are similar to several other Murray River Bridges such as Echuca and other Rail Bridges, particularly in New South Wales.The deck is of timber throughout, while the approach spans on Victorian side comprise timber stringers on timber trestle piers. There is an approach of considerable length on the New South Wales side with a higher river bank on the Victorian Side allowing for an earthen approach embankment.
Some of the girders on the timber spans are also propped at mid span and it is likely that the original bridge had the longer spans and these have been subdivided later. The bridge has a concrete abutment at the southern end and a timber abutment at the northern end. There is a footway on the eastern side of the bridge.
John Foord (1819 – 1883) “The Emperor of Wahgunyah”, settled on the Murray River near the Ovens junction (on the southern side of the river) in the early 1840s. In about 1843 Foord and a man named Bould examined the country about the present site of Wahgunyah and recommended it to John Crisp, who was the first European to settle in the area. Later Crisp sold his land to John Foord. With the development of steamer transport on the Murray River in the mid-1850s, Foord purchased a punt which was brought up to Wahgunyah by the steamer Leichhardt. Foord built two extensive warehouses which he let to river navigation companies. Traffic was attracted to Foord’s punt, leading to the establishment of Corowa township, opposite to Wahgunyah.

Nerdy chick in Australia who loves to ride and is accompanied by the crew: 'The Commander' Verne and the 'Mental Health Specialist' Kermit.

7 response to "May Challenge 2018: Bridges 5 and 6"

  1. By: Bill Stone Posted: May 20, 2018

    Good bridges and good history, although I didn’t notice Rachael’s bike or Suzanne lurking anywhere in the shadows.

  2. By: Tony Cullimore Posted: May 21, 2018

    Sue and I hope to come and have a look at the bridge in July.

    So, the river will be low although it should be high ‘cos those northern farmers will be filling their dams. Didn’t we recently spend millions of dollars working out how to not let this happen?

    • By: The Navigator Posted: May 21, 2018

      I suspect the river may be a little higher this winter than some years if it stays ‘droughty’ and farmers downstream start ordering water to get crops started in late winter that they usually rely on rainfall to start. Don’t know… but it’s always low and ‘ugly’ in the colder months. I thought it had a real green tinge to it the other day – enough to see if there was an algal alert (there wasn’t). Yeah, the MDBP is a topic best avoided in conversations in river communities. Such a shame… if it had been implemented as it stood in 2012, there was a chance of saving the river and its environment. No chance of that now.

Leave a Reply