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Why Sydney Harbour needed a bridge: a missing link

Modern-day Australians are so used to the Sydney Harbour Bridge that it is almost impossible to imagine a time when there wasn’t a bridge across the harbour, let alone a different bridge to the one we have!  Before the Bridge was built, the only links between the city centre in the south and the residential areas on the northern side of the harbour were by ferry or by a 20 kilometre road route that involved five bridge crossings!

A Royal Commission

Reasons for construction of the Bridge – the 1908–1909 Royal Commission on Comunications between Sydney and North Sydney.
A special Resource Kit for teachers providing group source-based investigation of the range of reasons for constructing a bridge across the harbour was produced by the Historic Houses Trust and can be downloaded as a PDF. (32 pages, 998k) (Go to Activity 1 of the Bridging Sydney Education Resource Kit)

Look and Listen

View the short film clip 'Origins of the Bridge' from Episode 1, 'The Bridge' of the Film Australia series Constructing Australia: Triumphs and tragedies in building a nation. To view the clip go to the following Screen Australia website (Film Australia website) resources for teachers: Scroll down to the 'Video clips' at bottom right of page. Select 'Origins of the Bridge'.

Look at these questions before you view the clip.

Questions for film clip ‘Origins of the Bridge’

What factors had prevented the building of the bridge before Bradfield began work? What does this clip reveal of Bradfield’s origins, background and early career? Find out more about Bradfield from the online Australian Dictionary of Biography

The Church on the Hill, and the Fuzzy Tree
The Church on the Hill, and the Fuzzy Tree. The fuzzy tree marks the site of the beginning of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The first sod was turned on Saturday 28th July, 1923. Source: Parables of the Sydney Harbour Bridge by Frank Cash, 1930, p 1.
Circular Quay from the deck level of the Pylons
Circular Quay from the deck level of the Pylons.
Source: Parables of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
by Frank Cash, 1930, p 501.
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