Page added 28th February 2001

Trestle over Houlaghans Ck, looking towards Junee 
18th January 2001 
Photo 17bw
No 1




Recording prepared by:

James McInerney

Email:  [email protected]



This “Whitton”(1)  type underbridge(2)  was constructed over Houlaghans Creek for the opening of the section Junee to Narrandera on 28th February 1881. 

Originally consisting of 7 26ft(3) spans  with horizontally and diagonally braced piers whose round piles were driven directly into the ground, heavier traffic and ongoing maintenance has resulted in extra piers without diagonal bracing reducing the spans to approx 13ft and most of the piers resting on concrete footings.  Piecemeal replacement of the piles has also resulted in many of the round (tree trunk) piles being replaced with rough dressed 1ft x 1ft square profile timbers.   Extra 12 x 4 1/2” kerb timbers have also been added to increase the depth of ballast.

It is not known when this augmentation of the piers took place or when the concrete footings and extra kerb timbers were added.

The underbridge was due to be replaced with a steel and concrete pier and girder underbridge during February 2001.


This underbridge is included in, but not specifically identified amongst the group entry, “No 551 Ballast-Top Timber Openings (Group Entry)” on the draft RAC S 170 Register (4) .  This underbridge is not on either the State Heritage Inventory, or the State Heritage Register.  Likewise, it is not on the (old) State Rail Authority S 170 Heritage and Conservation Register(5) .  Neither is it listed by the Junee Council.

The underbridge is not mentioned in the history of NSW railway bridges, “Bridges Down Under”(6) , nor is it mentioned in the history(7)  of the Junee to Hay line published in the ARHS Bulletin(8)  in 1982.


A search of the Rail Services Australia Plan Room and State Rail Authority Archives failed to locate any plans(9)  of the underbridge.


The recommended guidelines(10)  were followed whilst preparing the Archival Recording of this underbridge.

 i.   A photographic record(11)  of the underbridge was compiled on Thursday 18th January 2001.
 ii.  Drawings of the bridge were prepared using the above photos and measurements and field notes 
      made during the abovementioned site visit.
 iii. Completed copies of this recording will be located in readily accessible locations, eg ARHS Archives,
      the Internet and the NSW Heritage Office.

1.    John Whitton was the Engineer-in-Chief of the NSW Railways from 1857 till 1890 and was responsible for the adoption of this style of
        timber trestle on the system.  This type of trestle has become known as the “Whitton” type to distinguish it from later styles.
2.     In railway terms an ‘underbridge’ is a bridge that carries a railway line over something.
3.    26ft was the standard span for trestles when this one was constructed, P26 “Bridges Down Under” Don Fraser 1995 ARHS NSW.
4.    RAC. 1999.  Heritage Management Policy Manual (Draft). RAC
5.    SRA. 1993.  Heritage and Conservation Register – Summary. SRA.
6.    “Bridges Down Under” Don Fraser 1995 ARHS NSW.
7.    “The Centenary of the Railway from Junee to Hay” N J Pollard  ARHS Bulletin April, May, June, July 1982 
8.     The ARHS Bulletin is a magazine devoted to the history of Australian railways and is published monthly by the 
        Australian Railway Historical Society
9.     Standard practice of the time this bridge was built was for a “master” plan for this type of bridge to be prepared and the basic design
         adapted locally to suit a particular site.  Individual plans of each structure were not normally prepared.
10.   “How to Prepare Archival Records of Heritage Items” NSW Heritage 1998.
11.   As per “Guidelines for Photographic Recording of Heritage Sites, Buildings, Structures and Moveable Items” NSW Heritage 1998.





Click on the photo number to see the full-size photograph.
 Photo 1w Approaching from the west along the access road, the first view of the trestle shows it through a gap in the trees that line Houlaghans Creek.
 Photo 2w Climbing onto the formation and looking south we see the reason for this trestle's existence, Houlaghans Creek.  As is typical of Australian climatic conditions, (especially in summer), the creek is dry, but when the rains come, the volume of water that can suddenly appear is more than enough justification for the substantial timber trestle, (and its concrete and steel replacement).
 Photo 3w Turning around and looking north we see another view of Houlaghans creek.  It passes under the railway just out of picture to the right.
 Photo 1A
Little is visible of the bridge in this view looking west towards Old Junee, though the trees in the middle distance mark the course of Houlaghans Creek in a landscape that consists mainly of cleared paddocks.  The 20km caution marker is a good indication of the operational reasons that have made replacement of life expired timber bridges necessary for the modern railway.  Sections of the replacement steel and concrete bridge are stored to the right.
 Photo 2A Another distant view of the bridge showing the low impact on the visual environment of timber trestles.  The grey upright structures are the concrete piers of the new bridge.

 Photo 21 The southern side of the trestle, looking east.  The purpose of the cross timbers jutting out from the lower kerb is not known, and they do not appear on the northern side of the bridge.
 Photo 22 The eastern end of the north side of the trestle, with the piers for the new bridge prominent.
 Photo 23A
A closer view, looking southwest.  The concrete piers for the new  structure stand out in the mid distance. 
 Photo 24
The previously mentioned sections of the new bridge provide a convenient vantage point to view most of the northern side of the trestle.

 Photo 20bw The western abutment and span no 13, looking north.
 Photo 19A The southwest abutment wingwall showing the km marking (from Sydney Terminal), which normally appears on the left hand Down end wingwall of all NSWR bridges.  Traditionally, the identification number of the Gang responsible for the maintainance of the bridge also appeared here, but with the changes that have occurred in maintainance procedures in recent years this practice appears to have ceased.
 Photo 18A A close up of the construction details of the spans looking east towards Pier 13.
 Photo 18bw A veiw of Piers 13 and 12 from the south side of the bridge.  When the creek is flowing it flows throught his area.
 Photo 16bw The western abutment from the other side, note that the cross pieces that intersect the lower kerb pieces in photo 20bw don't appear on this side of the bridge.  It would appear that the abutment pier has partially collapsed.
 Photo 15bw Pier 13 has the highest visible concrete footing.
 Photo 14bw Looking up under the span at Pier 10 we can see details of the construction.
 Photo 13bw Looking south at Piers 7, 8 and 9.  The major visual difference between the "Whitton" style trestles and the later "Deane" style is prominent here; the depth of the span structure.  The "Deane" style were much less substantial in this area, which caused much adverse comment regarding their safety from those more comfortable with traditional English construction when the American style "Dean" trestles replaced the "Whitton" trestles for new construction in the 1890s.
 Photo13A A closer view of Pier 8 and the massive construction of the spans.  The piles were originally approx 1ft (600mm) diameter tree trunks, but some have been replaced with 1ft x 1ft rough dressed square section timber, as can be seen here
 Photo 12bw A view of Pier 1 showing the construction, a simple headstock of timber on a concrete pier.  No 1 is one of the piers added later to strengthen the original 26ft spans, dividing them into two 13ft spans.
 Photo 12A Pier 2, one of the originals, showing how it has been strengthened by the addition of T shaped timber supports resting directly on the ground.  The purpose of the stenciled numbers is not known, but may be connected with the impending demolition of the bridge.
 Photo 11bw The eastern abutment and southern wingwall.  The horizontal timbers have disintegrated, allowing ballast to cascade down the slope.  As the bridge is about to be demolished it was obviously regarded as being a waste of time and money to repair the wingwall.  The abutment piers at this end have disappeared and have been replaced with a variety of timber packing. 
 Photo 10bw Piers 2and 3, showing construction of the spans and the shorter piers at the eastern end of the bridge.
 Photo 10A Pier 3, another of the simple timber on concrete intermediate piers.  The subtle colours of the weathered timber and the concrete are worth noting for those who will use this information for the building of models.
 Photo 9bw The piers are all numbered in black stencil on a white background, starting from No 1 at the Sydney end.
 Photo 9A Pier 5, showing construction details of the intermediate piers.  As mentioned previously, The intermediate piers do not have diagonal bracing.
 Photo 8bw Photo 8bw (left) and 8A (next below), showing construction details and the extra span timber that has been added between the outermost spans on the right between Piers 6 and 8.
 Photo 8A
 Photo 7bw Pier 4, one of the original piers, showing the substantial diagonal bracing carried on the original piers.  Also visible are details of 
the span construction.  Cross reference with the drawings will show that piers 4 and 5 are approximately 2ft (600mm) shorter than 
piers 6 to 12.
 Photo 7A Looking up under the deck near Pier 9 at the details of the massive construction of the spans.
 Photo 6bw A close up of Pier 10 showing construction of the original piers, with their diagonal bracing, and of the spans, showing some of the transverse transoms.
 Photo 6A Closeup of the footings to Pier 10. 
 Photo 5bw A view showing the underside of the span structure in the vicinity of Pier 9
 Photo 5A Looking west from Pier 9, which is one of the intermediate piers without diagonal bracing.  Evidence of scouring around the bottom of the concrete pier foundations is visible.  A variety of steel bolts and plates serve to secure the various parts of the bridge.  The circular concrete and steel girder structure to the right is one of the piers for the new bridge under construction.
 Photo 4A Piers 10 and 11, allowing comparison between the original piers with their diagonal bracing, (Pier 10) and the intermediate piers (Pier 11) that were added sometime after original construction and do not have diagonal bracing.  The mixture of round and square section piles mentioned above can also be seen.
 Photo 3A Piers 12 and 13 at the western end of the bridge.


Click here to view the complete drawing

The drawing of the trestle is drawn to a ratio of 1:87.  This is the ratio of the most commonly used railway modelling scale in Australia (and the world), which is known as HO.  It is drawn to this scale as the most likely mass users of this information are likely to be railway modellers.

The drawing is dimensioned in Imperial measurements (Feet and Inches), rather than today's metrics as the structure was constructed in the Imperial (measurement) era and many of the major dimensions do not make 
sense when directly converted to Metric.  Also, as the abovementioned model railway scale, (HO) is commonly measured as 3.5mm to the foot(1), having it in Imperial also makes it more useful for most of the potential endusers.

1.   This strange mixture of Imperial and Metric is used for reasons connected with the early days of the hobby in Great Britain and cannot 
       be explained in a short footnote!

The information above is provided for the use and information of fellow modellers and enthusiasts
and may be reproduced for private use.  For permission for Commercial reproduction and use on
other web sites please contact the Copyright holder:

James McInerney

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