Sydney Harbour is world-renowned for its beauty and its famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. This is just one of seven magnificent bridges that complete the loop around the harbour. Every bridge has an interesting history behind it.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of Australia's best known and photographed landmarks. It is the world's largest (but not the longest) steel arch bridge, with the top of the bridge standing 134 metres above the harbour.
Fondly known by locals as the "Coat-hanger", the Sydney Harbour Bridge celebrated its 80th birthday in 2012, with its official opening in March 1932.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge construction started in 1924 and took 1400 men eight years to build at a cost of £42 million. Six million hand-operated rivets and 53,000 tonnes of steel were used in its construction. It now carries eight traffic lanes and two rail lines, one in each direction. But at the time of construction the two eastern lanes were tram tracks. They were converted to road traffic in 1958.
Pyrmont Bridge stands at the entrance to Darling Harbour, regularly opening its central steel swingspan to allow leisure and commercial craft to pass into Cockle Bay.
This, the second Pyrmont Bridge, opened to traffic in 1902 and used electric power from Ultimo Powerhouse at a time when Sydney's streets weren't yet lit by electricity.
The bridge was designed by Percy Allan of the NSW Government's Public Works Department after an international competition failed to find a winner. Percy designed 583 bridges during his career and the timber truss system used on Pyrmont Bridge became known worldwide as the 'Allan Truss'. Also working on the project was J.J. Bradfield, who later designed Sydney Harbour Bridge, and Gordon Edgell who went on to open Australia's first cannery at Bathurst.
Once a major transport route to the west, the bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in August 1981.
With the introduction of container shipping, the southern end of Cockle Bay was no longer commercially viable and the area gradually fell into decline. Freight services were moved and the railway goods yards closed in 1984.
In the same year, the Darling Harbour Authority was formed and commissioned to redevelop the area as a leisure, entertainment and commercial venue, giving part of the harbour back to the people of Sydney.
The new Darling Harbour opened in 1988, with Pyrmont Bridge reopened as a pedestrian bridge, swingspan restored to full working order and a new addition, the Monorail, running above until closure in June 2013.
The ANZAC Bridge spans Johnstons Bay and is one of Sydney's outstanding landmarks. Opened in December 1995, at a cost of $170 million, it provides a key link between Sydney City and the suburbs to the west. Via the City West Link and Victoria Road, it is the major east-west route to the M4 at Concord and the Homebush Bay Olympic 2000 site.
The bridge has a main span of 345m, a total length of over 800m, and the two towers supporting the 128 cables that are 120m high. It is the longest cable-stayed span bridge in Australia and amongst the longest concrete cable-stayed span bridges in the world.
This new bridge replaced the old Glebe Island bridge and initially adopted that name.
On the 80th anniversary of Armistice Day, 11 November 1998, the premier of NSW, Bob Carr, renamed the bridge as the ANZAC Bridge as a memorial to members from both sides of the Tasman who formed the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps - the ANZACs. Flags were placed on the tower tops, an Australian flag on the eastern tower, and a New Zealand flag on the western tower.
The original bridge was constructed of wrought iron lattice girders and opened in 1882 after four years of construction. The area was sparsely populated in the 1880s and the opening of the new bridge not only helped accessibility, it provided a new western route to Sydney via Balmain.
A decision to replace the original bridge was made in 1939 just prior to the outbreak of World War II. Design work began in 1942 and construction commenced in 1947. The bridge was officially opened by Hon. J.J. Cahill, MLA, Premier and Colonial Treasurer of NSW on 30 July, 1955.
The bridge is comprised of aesthetically distinctive piers and abutments which reflect the Inter-War Art Deco style. Furthermore, it was the last steel truss bridge to be constructed in NSW in which rivets were used for field connections prior to the introduction of high strength bolts.
The duplication of the Iron Cove Bridge was completed on 30 January 2011. It is designed to improve bus and car travel times along one of Sydney's busiest roads. The new pedestrian and cycleway on the western side of the bridge also provides wonderful views across the water to Rodd Point.
Gladesville Bridge is an arch bridge that spans the Parramatta River, west of central Sydney. It is a few kilometres upstream of the more famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. At the time of its completion in 1964, Gladesville Bridge was the longest single span concrete arch ever constructed. Gladesville Bridge is the largest of a complex of three bridges, including Fig Tree Bridge and Tarban Creek Bridge, designed to carry a never built North Western Expressway.
The current bridge replaced the original Gladesville Bridge, which was completed in 1881. The old Gladesville Bridge was constructed as part of a spate of bridge building that took place during the 1880s, which also saw the construction of the Iron Cove Bridge, Glebe Island Bridge and Pyrmont Bridge. Before these bridges were built, people and goods had to cross the Parramatta River on punts or ferry services, a situation that local residents had been complaining about since the 1860s.
The 1881 Gladesville Bridge was about 300 metres to the west of the modern bridge. It featured a swing section on the southern end of the bridge that could be opened to permit sailing ships and steamers with high funnels to pass. It stood on iron cylinders with a sandstone pier at each end of the bridge. The sandstone piers are all that remain today of the original bridge.
The 1964 bridge was planned and commenced as traffic demands were rising steadily in the 1950s. There were also several occasions during the 1960s when the old bridge could no longer be re-closed, having expanded when open due to extreme heat conditions. Construction on the new bridge started in 1959, and took six years to complete. It was opened to traffic on 2 October 1964.
Tarban Creek Bridge is an arch bridge that spans Tarban Creek. Opened in December 1955, Tarban Creek Bridge formed a "missing link" between the existing Gladesville and Fig Tree Bridges.
Traffic between the old Fig tree and Gladesville Bridges previously had to negotiate the streets of Hunters Hill to cross the creek further upstream.
Opened in September 1963, Fig Tree Bridge is a girder bridge that spans the Lane Cove River, west of central Sydney. It is immediately to the north of Tarban Creek Bridge and the more well-known Gladesville Bridge. The bridge carries Burns Bay Road, a footpath, and connects the suburb of Hunters Hill to Linley Point.
This bridge replaces a bridge originally built on this site in the late nineteenth century. The earlier Fig Tree Bridge was a couple of metres to the west. The southern abutment still exists, although it is quite overgrown.
The current Fig Tree Bridge was built in conjunction with the Tarban Creek and Gladesville Bridges as part of the planned North-Western Expressway linking the city with the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway. The Expressway was cancelled, but the freeway grade road from the eastern end of the Gladesville Bridge, over Tarban Creek and ending at the northern end of Fig Tree Bridge hints at what was planned.