Burra History graphic
Bridges in Burra

The Watt Road Railway Bridge

Original wooden railway bridges over Burra Creek

The original wooden railway bridges over Burra Creek and Watt Road immediately north of the station yard.

When the railway was being extended north to Hallett in 1876 it was not at first intended to place a bridge over Watt Road. Traffic was intended to detour to pass under the railway bridge alongside Burra Creek. This would have forced traffic to make an awkward U-turn as well as making the road unusable when the creek was high.

After a lot of community protest the government agreed to construct a bridge to avoid this inconvenience. Work began on a wooden bridge over Watt Road in mid-1877. By 1900 both it and the wooden bridge over the creek were showing signs of serious decay.

The Watt Road Bridge was replaced with a steel structure in 1906. The railway line north of Burra was taken up in 1992-93.

After several trucks with high loads had collided with the bridge it was decided to remove it in 2004.

1906 Watt Road bridge

At the extreme left the new steel Watt Road Bridge of 1906 can be seen with the original bridge still spanning the creek.

Watt Road Bridge in 2004

Watt Road Bridge in 2004.

Watt Road Bridge now

The site today

The Railway Bridge over the Burra Creek

The railway was extended north from Burra to Hallett in 1876-78. A wooden bridge was constructed to carry the line across Burra Creek.

By the turn of the century the wood had begun to deteriorate and in 1905 the Kapunda Herald reported that ‘the butts of several of the great piles had become a little rotten and the department went to work at once and bolted huge stays to them’. Following the replacement of the wooden Watt Road Bridge with a steel structure in 1906 the same paper said: ‘It would be much more pleasant if the miserable thing crossing the Burra Creek, nearby, was also replaced by a similar one.’

The changeover to a new steel bridge was accomplished with great finesse in 1909. After careful preparation, the old bridge was torn down after the departure of the Broken Hill express on Saturday night, 27 March. Workmen laboured all through Saturday night, Sunday and Sunday night, to have the new bridge open for the Broken Hill express on Monday morning.

The first train to cross over the Burra Creek bridge, 30 March 1909

The first train to cross over the new bridge, 30 March 1909.

Burra Creek bridge October 2016

The bridge October 2016.

The Swing Bridge

The present footbridge opposite the Town Hall dates from 1960 and is the replacement for a nearby swing bridge that entertained generations of children between 1916 and 1956. It, in turn, replaced an earlier small footbridge that was washed away by a flood in 1915.

This series of bridges served people accessing the Town Hall, the school and the stock yards, which used to be where the school oval is now. The headmaster of the school argued that having school children cross the creek by the footbridge at the Burra Hotel took them through an undesirable environment.

Burra swing bridge late 1920s

The swing bridge late 1920s with the Town Hall in the background.

Present bridge, replacing Burra swing bridge

The present bridge.

The Bon Accord Bridge

For many years access to the railway station from the north was hindered when the creek was flowing over the ford. This inconvenienced wool and wheat haulage and also the transfer of sheep and other livestock from the saleyards to the station.

After extended strong representations from those in the stock industry and those carting wheat, a bridge was erected across the Burra Creek adjacent to the Bon Accord Hotel in 1892. There were eight spans of c. 30ft with piers made of three rolled steel piles braced together with steel crossheads and masonry abutments. The openings were each spanned by five rolled steel girders carrying jarrah decking metalled over. The three central girders were tested to ten tons and the outside ones to five tons.

The bridge was declared open by the Mayoress Mrs West in December 1892.

In the 1950s there were a number of accidents on the bridge when speeding cars failed to negotiate the curving approach. By the 1960s it was falling into disrepair and changed flow patterns for the creek resulted in the decision to remove it in 1970 and replace it with a ford.

Burra's Bon Accord Bridge over flood of 1915

The April Flood of 1915 illustrates why there was a need for the Bon Accord Bridge.

Burra's Bon Accord Bridge soon after construction

The Bon Accord Bridge soon after construction.

Burra's Bon Accord Ford 30 September 2016

The Bon Accord Ford 30 September 2016.

The Bridge Street Bridge

A timber bridge with massive stone abutments was erected here in 1850. The SA Mining Association and W. Paxton, a director, found two thirds of the cost and public subscription the rest.

In 1877 a flood swept the bridge, still attached to its eastern abutment, 1.5 km downstream.

It was replaced by the steel bridge in Kingston Street for road traffic and at this site by a succession of foot bridges, somewhat incongruously attached to the surviving old stone abutment.

The present bridge was fabricated by Thamms of Burra North in 1969 and placed in position by the District Council.

Early 20th century version of Burra's Bridge Street bridge

Early 20th century version of the bridge.

Original Burra Bridge of 1850-1877

Original Bridge of 1850-1877 from a 1857 painting by William Bentley.

Burra's Bridge Street bridge showing the surviving western abutment in 2010

The bridge showing the surviving western abutment in 2010.

Commercial Street Bridge

A stone bridge was erected across Commercial Street in 1863. It was declared open by Mr Nicholls representing the Central Road Board and eight year old Louisa Drew broke a bottle of wine over the bridge.

In 1879 it was replaced by a steel beam bridge in an attempt to allow more water to pass during flash floods.

It was re-decked in 1901 and rebuilt in a similar design in 1944.

Flooding down Commercial Street is still liable to occur when waters from flash floods are unable to escape under the bridge.

As recently as the severe hail storm of 5 November 2015 Commercial Street was flooded when the bridge was unable to cope with flood waters.

2015 Flood in Commercial Street, Burra

Flood waters and hailstones rushing down Commercial Street on 5 November, 2015.

1995 Flood in Commercial Street, Burra

The bridge provides too little space for flash floods resulting in water overflowing the banks and flooding Commercial Street as in this January 1995 photograph.

1872 photograph Burra Commercial Street Bridge

The bridge can be seen in the centre of this 1872 photograph.

1880s photograph Burra Commercial Street Bridge

The bridge had been replaced by the 1880s by the structure shown in this photograph.

Burra Commercial Street Bridge today

The bridge today.

Deadman's Bridge

Public subscription financed the erection of this bridge in 1868 by the contractors Tiver & Woollacott, supervised by D. Wells Curator of the Burra Cemetery. The bridge made it easier for funerals to negotiate this difficult creek crossing.

The rather awkward positioning of the bridge was dictated by cost. It was bypassed in 1920 when land was acquired from C. Grow, the road was straightened and a new bridge erected. The parapet walls were then removed.

Its location on the road to the cemetery seems the likely explanation for its unofficial name as Deadman’s Bridge.

Map showing alignment of new and old bridges

Downstream side of Deadman’s Bridge.

Upstream side of Deadman’s Bridge.

Kingston Street Bridge

This was opened in 1879 to replace the Bridge Street structure, which had been washed away in the great flood of 1877. The contractor for the ironwork was C. M. Davies. Land had to be acquired to link Kingston Street with Market Square. There had previously been a ford immediately south of this site.

Concrete decking replaced rotting timber in 1933 and massive steel strengthening beams were placed under it in 2004, in order to keep it in service while maintaining its historic form.

Kingston Street bridge in the 1890s .

The bridge showing the reinforcement of 2004.