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Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge 125th Anniversary

Home > Sydney > Cruises | Day Trips | Outdoor | Trains | Vintage and Retro
by Todd Newton (subscribe)
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Celebrating 125 years of railway excellence
Dangar Island will be celebrating the 125 year anniversary of the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge.

And there are many activities that you can be involved in on the island.

Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge
A view of the current Hawkesbury River railway bridge where the pylons of the old bridge lay beside it (Image provided by Tim Stewart (Daramulan) on Wikimedia Commons).


Or you might like to take a short cruise on board of the MV Banksia that was used to transport the workers to dockyards on Cockatoo Island and Dangar Island.

The Riverboat Postman cruise is now cancelled as the river is closed until 12:30pm for a Bridge to Bridge boat race. But on this ride, you could have seen the old bridge or old construction sites on Long Island and Dangar Island.

Hawkesbury River Boat
Image courtesy of the Dangar Island Historical Society.


Other events include;

  • An exhibition in the Hall of the Story of the Bridge including photographs of its construction and of the life and times of the engineers working on the project. And you can take a peek at some original artefacts. Entry inside is free but they do request donations.


  • NSW Rail engineering
    A photo of the employees of the Ryland and Morse Engineering Company (Image courtesy of the Dangar Island Historical Society).


  • Display boards will take you on a story around the island.

  • Try some stew and damper on the island or otherwise, you can have a meal at the Dangar Island Bowling Club and Café.

  • Listen to Colonial music in the Park on Sunday afternoon.

  • Marie Bashir, Governor of NSW, will be visiting the island around 1pm on Sunday.


  • Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge
    The old bridge, for its time, used cutting edge technology (Image courtesy of the Dangar Island Historical Society).


    Before the bridge was built, passengers had to be shipped across the river by a stern wheel paddle steamer which posed great challenges at times due to extra luggage and so forth. In the case of freight trains, railcars were driven onto barges and were towed across the river by tugboats.

    Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge
    A tugboat that helped position the pontoon that supports the spans of the bridge. In this photo, Span No.1 being floated into position in 1888 (Image courtesy of the Dangar Island Historical Society).


    During its time, the construction was the biggest bridge building project in the Southern Hemisphere and the workers used very advanced engineering techniques.

    The Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge opened in 1889 and became the main link for railway travel between South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, and New South Wales during the time of Federation.

    Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge
    Image courtesy of the Dangar Island Historical Society.


    It made it a lot easier to transport people and goods across the river and between states and became highly significant for economic, political and social reasons. The bridge was even used to transport men and materials during World War I and II.

    In 1946, the bridge was replaced with the current railway bridge at Brooklyn but the pylons of the old bridge still remain.

    So if you are itching for a nice day out and are keen to learn a bit of history, bring yourself along to Dangar Island on May 3rd and 4th.

    A ferry out to Dangar Island leaves from the Public Wharf in Brooklyn.
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    Why? History
    Phone: Peter White- 9985 7800
    Where: Dangar Island
    Cost: Exhibition & History Trail free. Banksia River Tours $7.50. 3 hour River Postman Tour (departs Brooklyn Saturday 11am) including morning tea, lunch & commentary $44 Adult, $100 Family.
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