Our History | The two Taemas bridges

Old Taemas Bridge c1911. Yass & District Historical Society Collection.
Old Taemas Bridge c1911. Yass & District Historical Society Collection.

The Sydney Mail, May 5, 1888 announced that the Taemas Bridge near Yass was officially opened with huge celebrations.

An official party came to Yass on Friday by special train from Sydney.

RECONSTRUCTION: The old Taemas Bridge during 1925 flood taken from Cavan Hill (top) and the new bridge c1930s (below). Photos: Yass & District Historical Society Collection

RECONSTRUCTION: The old Taemas Bridge during 1925 flood taken from Cavan Hill (top) and the new bridge c1930s (below). Photos: Yass & District Historical Society Collection

"Next morning the party were escorted to the bridge by a large procession of buggies, horsemen and the town band," reported The Sydney Mail, April 21, 1888.

After the opening at 1pm, more than 100 people were treated to a sit-down lunch catered by Mr Sheekey of Yass.

The post office and other buildings were lit up at night and entertainment included dancing by Aboriginal people.

STANDING STRONG: The old Taemas Bridge, built 1887, in its heyday (date unknown). Photo: Yass & District Historical Society Collection

STANDING STRONG: The old Taemas Bridge, built 1887, in its heyday (date unknown). Photo: Yass & District Historical Society Collection

In the early days of white settlement in Yass valley, there were few travellers on the road between Yass and Wee Jasper. Fords were used across the Murrumbidgee River.

That was until gold was found at Kiandra in the Snowy Mountains in 1859.

In 1860, NSW Government Gazette announced that a punt would be set up at Taemas crossing place.

By the mid 1860s, much of the gold had gone. The boom was over.

But as land was opened up to settlers, and the pastoral industry grew, a bridge was needed.

Construction of the first Taemas Bridge finally began in 1885.

With the construction of the Burrinjuck Dam, water levels rose in the Murrumbidgee River.

So modifications were needed to the bridge.

It was not until 1924 that work to raise the height by 15 feet, and its length by 885 feet was completed.

But in 1925, disaster struck. Very heavy rainfall led to massive flooding and the destruction of Taemas Bridge.

Old Taemas Bridge during 1925 flood. Yass & District Historical Collection

Old Taemas Bridge during 1925 flood. Yass & District Historical Collection

Surveys for a new bridge began late in 1925.

Public Works Department's preferred site was approximately two miles upstream of the old bridge requiring a shorter bridge, but a longer road route.

While lengthy discussions continued, temporary solutions of punts and a low level bridge were destroyed by floods too!

ALTERNATIVE MEASURES: The punt on the Murrumbidgee River at the site of old Taemas Bridge c1930. Photo: Yass & District Historical Society Collection

ALTERNATIVE MEASURES: The punt on the Murrumbidgee River at the site of old Taemas Bridge c1930. Photo: Yass & District Historical Society Collection

The new bridge in its present location was finally opened in 1931, simply marked by a small plaque.

There was no grand opening celebration, perhaps due to the depression.

It may have seemed inappropriate in such difficult times.

Many floods have followed. However this new Taemas Bridge has endured, providing a safe crossing along with wonderful views across the Murrumbidgee River.

New Taemas Bridge during construction 1931. Yass & District Historical Society Collection.

New Taemas Bridge during construction 1931. Yass & District Historical Society Collection.

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