Railway Bridge & Prince Alfred Bridge, Murrubmidgee River, Gundagai, New South Wales, Australia
Following early 2012 floods, debris from the flood was still visible. Capturing this location shortly after the floods seemed appropriate, given the history of this area and the link to Australia’s colonial and indigenous past.
The historic township of Gundagai sits on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. Although a small town, Gundagai is a popular topic for Australian writers and has become a representative icon of a typical Australian country town and forever associated with the dog on the tuckerbox in Australian folklore. The two historic Gundagai bridges pictured in this photo are the Prince Alfred Bridge and the Railway Bridge. The Prince Alfred Bridge, the bridge in the background, was built in 1866, and was the first major crossing spanning the Murumbidgee River. It formed part of the Hume Highway until it was replaced by the Sheahan Bridge, built in 1976. The Prince Alfred Bridge is the longest timber viaduct in Australia. The timber Railway Bridge in the foreground was completed in 1902 and this viaduct is 819m long.
The Gundagai area is part of the traditional lands of the Wiradjuri speaking people and there is a considerable folklore associated with Aboriginal cultural and spiritual beliefs in the area. The floodplains of the Murrumbidgee below the present town of Gundagai, pictured in part in this image, were a frequent meeting place of the Wiradjuri. The original European town that was gazetted as Gundagai in 1838 was situated to left of this image on the right hand bank of the Murrumbidgee River floodplain at the place colloquially known as 'The Crossing Place'. This town was hit by several large floods of the Murrumbidgee River, with the 25 June 1852 flood sweeping the first colonial town of Gundagai away, killing at least 89 of the town's population of 250 people; it is one of the largest natural disasters in Australia's history. Local Aboriginals played a role in saving many Gundagai people from the 1852 floodwaters, rescuing more than 40 people using bark canoes.