Model, Killawarra Bridge ; c1989; 8047


Wingham Museum


Model, Killawarra Bridge

About this object

“A labour of love”
This five metre long wooden model of the historic Killawarra Bridge was built by local bridge worker Gordon Bithery. Whilst not to scale, the model was based on plans of the original Allan Truss Bridge and illustrates the design, construction and scale of the first bridge over the Manning River built in 1900-01.

Built at a cost of £7,700, the Killawarra bridge was significant in terms of the opening up of the upper Manning area to the rest of the Manning and providing improved access to the North Coast from Maitland. The new bridge significantly cut down the travel time to and from Port Macquarie and provided all weather access.

The Killawarra Bridge was reported to be one of the highest wooden bridges in the southern hemisphere at the time of its construction and was the first 5 span Allan Truss Bridge built in N.S.W. The bridge was 633feet long and 63 feet high with the five main spans being 90feet and two end spans being 92feet. The strong hardwood used enabled Allan Truss bridges to be built differently to the old wooden truss bridges.

Following the 1979 floods, Gordon Bithrey, the model’s maker was one of six men engaged to undertake major repairs to the Killawarra Bridge over a period of three years and it was during this time that he gained an appreciation of the workmanship and details of the bridge. By 1985 the Department of Main Roads had determined that the ongoing costs of maintaining the deteriorating bridge were high and that it was increasingly difficult to find personnel and materials to carry out effective repairs. The new Killawarra Bridge was built alongside the historic bridge in 1986-87 and the old bridge demolished in 1989.

Mr Bithrey built the model in response to the news that the historic bridge was to be demolished. Originally intended as a feature over his garden pond, the bridge model is now a popular exhibit at the Wingham Museum representing the intricate and technical beauty of the Manning River’s first bridge through the eyes of its maker.

Robyn Greenaway and Barbara Waters
30 July 2014

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