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.