Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Risdon Bridge

Here is a real hidden gem from the convict era. A beautifully preserved reminder of those who toiled to establish the roads that opened up the countryside inland from the Derwent River. A reminder that can still be seen today.
Beginning on the East Derwent Highway  at the original Tasmanian settlement site at Risdon Cove on the eastern bank of the Derwent, you can follow the road through Risdonvale along Grass Tree Hill Rd and onwards into Richmond.

Just after reaching the park area and memorial commemorating the landing of 1803 at Risdon Cove, you cross between the stone walls of a little convict built stone bridge that crosses over the Risdon Creek. A few paces up or down stream provides a vantage point from which to view this pretty little structure made from mellowed sandstone with a single arch springing right out of the water of the creek and a comparatively high parapet above it.

The wedge shaped sections of the arch are made of cut and gauged stone and the keystones bear the date 1838 in an ornate carved shield. This is more clearly preserved on the up stream side of the bridge.
The bridge is a single arched miniature model of the more famous triple arched vaulted bridge at Ross. The construction of the bridge was completed after Lieutenant Governor Arthur’s tenure had finished in Tasmania.

Until a few years ago, the bridge was picturesquely set amid light foliage but since the area has developed as a suburb and the provision of engineering services connected with the suburbs growth has brought about the overgrowing of the foliage around the vicinity of the bridge and the fitting of large pipes, supported by concrete posts that cut across the line of the bridges arch.

Also a building constructed by the Southern Regional Water Supply organization right next to the western end of the bridge tends to take away from the visual impact of the bridge from the travelling public.

Still the bridge is in good condition and serves as a silent monument to the convicts whose blood, sweat & tears went into the construction of the initial infrastructure which ultimately opened up the country side of the young Tasmanian colony for the ever expanding numbers of colonists. The bridge is listed on the Tasmanian & Australian Heritage Databases.

Main Text & Information Sources:
“Convicts & Carriageways – L. Hewitt
“Early Tasmanian Bridges” – Roy Smith