Mr GUY ZANGARI
(Fairfield) [1.25 p.m.]: I speak today about what is considered to be one of Australia's finest examples of colonial architecture: Lansdowne Bridge, over Prospect Creek at Lansvale, situated at the boundary of the Fairfield electorate. An iconic landmark, Lansdowne Bridge was built by convicts between 1834 and 1836 and today is Australia's only surviving masonry bridge, with the largest single spanning stone arch. The bridge was designed and its construction supervised by David Lennox, and it is classed as one of the finest pieces of colonial engineering on the heritage register. The bridge's single-arch sandstone construction spans an impressive 110 feet across Prospect Creek and at its centre clears 76 feet above water level. Lansdowne Bridge is not only David Lennox's greatest work; it is today a scenic and engineering attraction. David Lennox was a trained stonemason who emigrated from Scotland to Australia in the early 1830s. He was employed as a mason with the Government and worked from the Legislative Council Chamber in the Parliament where we gather today.
Whilst many bridges of this era were constructed from cast iron, such technologically advanced materials were not readily available in Australia, thus shaping the aesthetics of the colonial bridges we preserve today. Convict labour and the need to be self-reliant heavily governed the face-of-the-times architecture. The sandstone used for the bridge's construction was sourced on the right bank of Prospect Creek, 11 kilometres downstream from the bridge's location today. Upon its completion, Lansdowne Bridge was officially opened by Governor Bourke on Tuesday 26 January 1836 to mark the forty-eighth anniversary of the foundation of the colony of New South Wales. Like many important pieces of infrastructure, tolls were collected for eight years to recover its construction cost. Interestingly, masonry bridges today are rare historical structures and I am honoured to speak of this exceptional piece of Australian history located at the boundary of the Fairfield electorate.
Today many commuters most likely are unaware of the Lansdowne Bridge's historical significance or its exact location. As they travel along this section of the Hume Highway the bridge's existence is obscured, going unnoticed as an icon of Australian colonial history. The size, aesthetic appearance and durability of the bridge mark it as a rare jewel and one of the very few examples of colonial engineering that functions daily with purpose. Fairfield City Council and the Southern Districts Soccer Football Association commemorate this impressive structure by incorporating its image as the centrepiece of their logos. Today, Lansdowne Bridge is accessed daily by over 57,000 vehicles as it provides vital access along one of New South Wales principal thoroughfares: the Hume Highway. Lansdowne Bridge not only is the title of an historical architectural masterpiece, but also proves to be a vital infrastructure link that is heavily utilised in New South Wales today.