Monday, 1 April 2013

Three Arch Bridge, Mayfield Beach

Here’s a real hidden gem!!!
 This small bridge, consisting of three arches, was built in 1845 by convict labor from the nearby Rocky Hills Probation Station, probably as part of the old convict built coach road which connected Swansea with Little Swanport along the east coast road to Hobart. (Now known as the A3 Tasman Highway)

One of Tasmania’s numerous historic bridges, built during a time when Tasmania was known as Van Diemen’s Land and was notorious as a prison for secondary offenders, those who had committed a further crime after being transported from England for whatever original reason that had bought a sentence of 7 years, 14 years or life! Generally the convicts sent to VDL were ‘lifers'. Interestingly, many of these convicts were skilled craftsmen as evidenced by this bridge and many more across Tasmania.

The bridge spans the outlet of the Old Man Creek at Mayfield Beach, approx 14kms south of Swansea on the east coast of Tasmania. It now has the existing east coast road built over the top of it. Fortunately the old bridge can still be viewed by walking 40m along a sign posted track down from the Mayfield Beach camping ground car park or by walking along the beautiful beach. The arches are only very small and I had to stoop very low to walk through the arch from one end to the other.

We are very fortunate that the bridge was saved from destruction when the new road bridge was constructed over the top and that we can still see this wonderful piece of early colonial engineering. The site has been promoted via tourism websites, by the local tourist information centre and by the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife service who have erected signs at the Mayfield Beach camp grounds directing people to the site.
It's a fantastic small piece of our colonial history.

Unfortunately this is all the information I've been able to find via the internet regarding the history of this bridge. If you are able to add any more information regarding the history of the bridge, please feel free to leave a comment.


  1. Thank you for this! I recently visited Tasmania from the U.K. as part of my genealogy research and found out while I was there that my ancestor had served his 7 years and then re-offended and was sent to Rocky Hills. His dates fit in with the building of the Mayfield bridges. We were not in that area when I discovered this, so there will be another trip!!

  2. Thanks for your comments Anonymous. So glad you've found the info helpful. Hope you can get back to check out the bridge. It's certainly a marvel. If your ancestor was at Rocky Hills, he may also have been involved with building the Spiky Bridge as well.

  3. Thanks for this information. We have similar bricks from sandstone rocks made into dam walls and hold up train tracks on the early Rockhampton to Longreach rail line.