Forgotten Harris Creek rail bridge in jeopardy

Military history: Moorebank Heritage Group member Phil Hurren and historian John Oakes at the Harris Creek Rail Bridge. Picture: Anna Warr.

Military history: Moorebank Heritage Group member Phil Hurren and historian John Oakes at the Harris Creek Rail Bridge. Picture: Anna Warr.

Australia’s only remaining military railway line constructed by internees during World War I could be in jeopardy, after the state government announced its plan to upgrade Heathcote Road in Holsworthy.

The Harris Creek Rail Bridge was built in 1917 by the internees of the Holsworthy German Concentration Camp.

Under the government’s plan to upgrade and widen Heathcote Road between Voyager Point and Holsworthy, the bridge – which has been turned into a pedestrian and cycle-way – is to be partially deconstructed to make way for a wider road bridge.

Century: The bridge was built by the internees of the Holsworthy German Concentration Camp in 1917. Picture: Australian War Memorial.

Century: The bridge was built by the internees of the Holsworthy German Concentration Camp in 1917. Picture: Australian War Memorial.

Moorebank Heritage Group member Phil Hurren and historian John Oakes are encouraging members of the community to provide feedback on the proposal and its “Review of Environmental Factors” report.

“This railway ran most of the way from the concentration camp to Liverpool and the internees actually got the credit for building it,” Mr Oakes said.

“The proposal says they want to keep the two piers and some of the steel work, which we hope is the girders because they are original. But they don’t want to keep the abutments at the ends of the bridge.

“The reason why they want to get rid of the abutments is to improve the flooding. But once you remove the top structure [which was added in 1994], it is a very simple bridge and the water would just flow over.”

A spokesman from the Roads and Maritime Services has confirmed that parts of the bridge did have historical significance.

“The independent heritage assessment provided for the Review of Environmental Factors identifies the piers, plaque and iron fixings as the items of heritage significance to be retained. Roads and Maritime Services will further assess the heritage significance of the abutments,” he said.

Forgotten: The Harris Creek pedestrian bridge is located parallel to Heathcote Road in Holsworthy. Picture: Anna Warr.

Forgotten: The Harris Creek pedestrian bridge is located parallel to Heathcote Road in Holsworthy. Picture: Anna Warr.

“A new shared cycle and pedestrian path would be created as part of the upgraded Harris Creek Bridge.

“The structure which now serves as the pedestrian bridge was placed on top of the original railway bridge in 1988 and does not contribute to the heritage significance of the bridge.

“This would be removed and heritage interpretation of the original railway bridge would be carried out in consultation with community and stakeholders.”

  • Two information sessions will be held from 5pm to 7pm on Thursday November 3 and from 10am to 12pm on Saturday November 5, at St Christopher’s Catholic Primary School Hall.
  • You can send your feedback before Monday, November 14, to heathcoteroad@rms.nsw.gov.au, or to PO Box 973 Parramatta CBD 2124.

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