Bridgewater, located 19 km from the Hobart CBD, and is part of the
northern suburbs area of Greater Hobart. Bridgewater is situated on the
eastern shore of the Derwent River. Bridgewater is one of the first
suburbs encountered by visitors traveling from the state's north via
the Midland Highway and the Brighton Bypass.
The Bridgewater Bridge and Causeway spans the Derwent River between
Bridgewater and Granton to the north of Hobart. It consists of a
vertical lift bridge and a specially-built causeway connecting the
bridge to the east bank of the river. It accommodates a two-lane
highway, a single track railway and, on the bridge section, a footpath.
As the bridge is the major connector of the Midland Highway on the
eastern shore and the Brooker Highway on the western, the lifting of
the bridge can cause considerable traffic delays, depending on the time
of day and season.
Two bridges have spanned the river here prior to the existing
bridge. The first was a swing bridge, designed the firm of architect
and former convict James Blackburn, and erected in 1849 to replace a
punt. The bridge lasted several decades more before being replaced by
another swing bridge in the early 1900s. The pivot and the sandstone
abutments of this bridge are still standing and can be viewed on the
left of the present bridge as one travels towards the north.
The Bridgewater Bridge was one of the first bridges constructed in
Tasmania following British settlement in 1803, and gave its name to the
nearby suburb of Bridgewater, Hobart. Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur
commissioned the construction of the bridge and causeway as part of the
Launceston-Hobart Trunk Road, linking both Tasmanian towns and
providing easier access to farmlands in the interior of Tasmania.
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Construction commenced on the bridge in 1829. The causeway, which
was constructed first, was built by a workforce of 200 convicts who had
been condemned to secondary punishment. These convicts, using nothing
but wheelbarrows, shovels and picks and sheer muscle power, shifted 2
million tonnes (2,200,000 short tons) of soil, stones and clay. The
finished causeway stretched 1.3 kilometres (0.8 mi), although did not
span the full width of the Derwent. The original plan apparently called
for a viaduct, but this plan was abandoned and the half-built arches
were filled in to form the present causeway.