Conrad Gargett’s heritage team have been trusted with the task of developing concepts for an engaging and inspiring experience for Gundagai locals and tourists to commemorate and celebrate the now dismantled portion of the iconic Gundagai Prince Alfred Timber Road Viaduct Bridge.
The Gundagai Prince Alfred Timber Road Viaduct Bridge is a highly significant piece of history in Gundagai, recognised at one stage as the longest timber bridge in New South Wales, with the demolished section spanning a length of over 700m, and performing for over 79 years as a vital connector of the Hume Highway, linking the northern and southern ends of the town.
Image above: Horse-drawn vehicle coming off Prince Alfred Bridge, Gundagai, New South Wales. Source: Trove
After being superseded, decommissioned and then closing in 1984, the bridge stood disused for 37 years until being carefully dismantled in 2021, following serious safety concerns.
Our heritage team was then called upon to develop commemorative and interpretive concepts which were recently presented to the Cootamundra Gundagai Regional Council and community members, including the entire local high school, with feedback reflecting overwhelming support for the proposed ideas.
“Everyone in the community is very excited to see something happening and their feedback and ideas have been incredibly valuable in developing our concepts for telling the stories of the old bridge in a captivating way,” said Conrad Gargett Principal, David Gole.
The extensive community consultation process has included online surveys by Crown Lands NSW, including an initial survey seeking input from the community which attracted 139 submissions and a more recent survey to capture feedback on the concept designs.
“Our concepts are all about interpreting the history and stories of the bridge and showcasing why it was a significant piece of engineering and its importance to the community,” said David.
Conrad Gargett’s concepts focus on two potential sites; Location A at the elevated former entry and exit of the bridge off Prince Alfred Drive (location 16 of the current Gundagai Heritage Walk), and Location B, in the flood plains below at O.I.Bell Drive.
Image above: Proposed location A and B
The proposal for Location A includes creating a dedicated safe viewing area at the northern abutment overlooking the flood plain with a suspended wire sculpture of the bridge in perspective (illuminated at night), as well as a series of interpretative panels telling the history with photographs and stories of the old bridge.
Location A Concept
The proposal for Location B is to reinstate part of the former bridge trestle in the flood plains and incorporate an interpretive wire sculpture depicting vehicles and animals on the bridge.
Location B Concept
Both sites are proposed to include a captivating digital experience, with QR codes linking to virtual models of the bridge, as well as historic photos, videos and stories from locals. Car parking and bollards/seats made from salvaged bridge timbers are also proposed.
The soundscape of the bridge has been identified as an important element to capture – with the combination of rattling timbers, cars and noisy animals etched in the memories of locals.
Image above: Looking North, on the long, wooden, Prince Alfred Bridge at Gundagai, New South Wales, 1953. Jeff Carter: Trove.
“We’ve heard countless stories from community members of their memories of the bridge – some funny, some dramatic – many, recounting the noisy rattling soundscape and the various animals seen crossing. We want to capture the essence of these memories and tell the social history as well.”
The team is now reviewing the most recent survey feedback and once funding is secured is hoping to be able to progress the concepts further, with the intention of achieving a built outcome in 2023.