Bridge by day The Bridge Over the
River Clyde

Batemans Bay, NSW, Australia


History of the Bridge over the Clyde River on Prince's Hwy at Bateman's Bay
Excerpt from article, Main Roads Journal Vol. XIII, No. 3 March, 1948
The construction of necessary bridges in all parts of the State had to be deferred during the war years by force of circumstances.
Prior to the war, about sixty-five new bridges were built each year on the Main Roads system, but during the war years the annual programme had to be cut to about 25 per cent. of normal. As a result, there is now a large unfulfilled need for new bridges.
There are about 6,000 bridges on the Main Roads system, i.e. about one bridge to every 3 miles of main road on the average in the eastern portion of the State.
This article comprises a description of three major bridges over tidal waters, which are proposed for early construction.
(NB The 2 other bridges mentioned in this article were the Tuross River bridge near Bodalla and the bridge over Lake Macquarie at Swansea.)

Vehicular Ferry
The vehicular ferry before construction of the Clyde River bridge

Clyde River from northern side looking south showing falsework
and piers in early stages of construction of new bridge. Ferry in
midstream. (26/5/1949)

Clyde River from northern side looking south toward Batemans
Bay. Showing falsework and piers in early stages of construction
of new bridge. (26/5/1949)

Progress of construction of the bridge over the Clyde River at
Batemans Bay looking south. (Feb 1953)

First span erected on the bridge over the Clyde River at
Batemans Bay (18/8/1955)

View from the north bank of the new bridge over the Clyde River
with the vehicular ferry still in operation. (Nov 1956)

Showing the bridge nearing completion. It is constructed with
light steel trusses on concrete piers and with a concrete deck.
(Nov) 1956
Bridge over Clyde River on Prince's Highway at Bateman's Bay
At the crossing of the Clyde River at Bateman's Bay, 177 miles south of Sydney, is the only ferry between Sydney and the Victorian border. There is no railway on the south coast south of Nowra, and the Prince's Highway is thus the main avenue of communication along the coast for towns and villages over a length of 244 miles between Nowra and the border.
The Clyde River is navigable to coastal vessels. The river is 1,120 feet wide at Batemans Bay, and the ferry crossing takes approximately a quarter of an hour, including loading and unloading. The bridge to replace the ferry will be on a site downstream from the ferry, and will provide improvement to the alignment of the road approach on the northern side.
The structure will consist of five fixed steel truss spans, each 120 feet in length, one opening truss span of the vertical lift type, 90 feet long, and four approach spans of steel plate girders - a total length of 1,008 feet.
The roadway will be of reinforced concrete 22 feet wide, with a footway on the downstream side 5 feet in width. The lift span will be capable of being raised to give a clearance of 75 feet above high-water level. The machinery for lifting the span will be operated by an internal combustion engine, with another engine as a stand-by. The time of operation will be four and one-half minutes to open, and three and one-half minutes to close.
The bridge will be supported on reinforced concrete piers carried down to rock. The depth of water varies to a maximum of about 30 feet. There are sand and clay below the stream bed, and rock is met at depths varying from 20 feet to 70 feet below the high water. The abutment at the southern end will rest on piles.
Two contracts have been let for this work; one for the fabrication and supply of the steelwork being awarded to The Clyde Engineering Co. Ltd., in an amount of £62,540, and one for the construction of the sub-structure, erection of steelwork and laying of the deck of the bridge to Balgue Constructions Pty. Ltd., in an amount of £112,152. Work on these contracts is commencing.

Bridge Replaces Ferry at Bateman's Bay on South Coast
Excerpt from Main Roads Journal Vol. XXII, No. 2, December, 1956

The bridge built by the Department of Main Roads over the Clyde River at Bateman's Bay was officially opened for traffic by the Hon. J. B. Renshaw, M.L.A., Minister for Local Government and Minister for Highways, on 21st November, 1956. The bridge replaces the only remaining vehicular ferry on the Prince's Highway between Sydney and the Victorian border.
The new bridge comprises five steel truss spans each 120 feet, a steel truss vertical lift span 94 feet 6 inches in length, four steel plate girder spans each 62 feet long, and decked abutment structures at each end. The lift span when open gives a clear channel width of 75 feet for the passage of shipping. The overall length of the bridge is 1008 feet, the carriageway is 22 feet wide and a footway 5 feet wide has been provided on the downstream side.
Preliminary investigations with a view to bridging the Clyde River were commenced before the outbreak of World War II, when the reconstruction of the Prince's Highway between Ulladulla and Bateman's Bay was being undertaken.
After the war, drawings and specifications were prepared by the Department of Main Roads, and tenders invited in October, 1947.
The work was divided into two contracts, one for the manufacture and supply of the steelwork and machinery and the other for the construction of piers and abutments, erection of the steelwork and final completion of the bridge. The tender of the Balgue Construction Company for the second contract was accepted in December, 1947, and a contract for the manufacture and supply of steelwork and machinery was awarded the Clyde Engineering Company of Granville, New South Wales, in January, 1948. Post war shortages of materials and skilled labour handicapped both contracting firms and necessitated the making of other arrangements for the completion of the work. In May, 1951, the contract with Balgue Construction Company was terminated by mutual consent, and arrangements were then made for the remaining work covered by that contract to be completed by the Department of Main Roads by day labour, the services of Mr. George Balgue retained by the Department to supervise the carrying out of the work. In October, 1952, fabrication of the structural steelwork was transferred from the Clyde Engineering Company to the State Dockyard, Newcastle, New South Wales. Despite continued shortage of materials, steady though slow progress was made until about the middle of 1955, after which a faster rate of construction was achieved.
Each pier of the new bridge consists of two reinforced concrete cylinders founded on rock, which occurs a moderate distance below the river bed. The northern abutment is founded on spread footings on rock and the southern abutment is supported by driven reinforced concrete piles. No special constructional difficulties were encountered and normal methods were employed in the use of compressed air to sink the cylinders of the piers. The trusses and girder spans were erected in situ on timber pile falsework.
The total cost of the bridge is about £350,000.
The work at Bateman's Bay has been carried out under the general supervision of the Department of Main Roads Divisional Engineer at Bega, Mr. R.W.P. Hirt.

Ferry Crossing
The establishment, in 1871, of a ferry-punt at Bateman's Bay was the first provision made for the crossing of the Clyde River at that point. The punt was later replaced by a steam ferry.
The vessel which the bridge has now rendered unnecessary is a power-driven rope-operated unit with a deck capacity of twenty-eight average sized vehicles. During the year of operation ending on 30th June, 1956, the ferry made 50,149 trips and carried a total of 233,073 vehicles.

  • The place names mentioned in this website differ today to those quoted in the articles from the Department of Main Roads Journals. The Geographic Names Board has since dropped apostrophes from place names. Thus Bateman's Bay became Batemans Bay and the Prince's Highway became the Princes Highway.
  • The NSW Department of Main Roads is now known as the Roads & Traffic Authority.
  • All images and text on this site are copyright.

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