Murray Bridge.The three spans of the 1925 railway bridge. Beyond is the original road and rail bridge which was compelted in 1880. by denisbin

Murray Bridge – the government town. Formerly Edwards Crossing and then Mobilong.
The first recorded white person to visit this area was Captain Charles Sturt on his epic voyage down and up the Murray in 1830/31. He passed through this place on February 8 1831. The original inhabitants the Ngarlta people, a subgroup for the Ngarrindjeri people, used the river for fish, shellfish, game, birds and bark from the giant River Red gums along the banks. The bark was used for canoes. The reeds along the banks provided fibre for mats, baskets and even shelters. The first white settler of the area was George Edwards on a property he called Coninka. As the river was suitable for a stock crossing here his spot became known as Edwards Crossing. Once plans were approved for the railway to Melbourne the government commissioned the building of a bridge here. Work began in 1874 after a quotation for a bridge at Edwards Crossing came in at half the cost of a bridge at Wellington. The bridge took six years to construct and at least one worker died during construction. It was a major engineering feat and the first bridge to span the mighty Murray anywhere in Australia. It is nearly 2,000 feet long (600 metres) and is on the register of the National Estate.

A residence was also constructed for the overseer of this project and it is known as the Round House, built between 1874-76. It has a six sided roof and it is the most historic house in Murray Bridge but additions carried out by the railways in 1917/18 to make the house larger destroyed its “round appearance.” The Superintendents of the southern railway system lived in this house which is just across from the Bridge railway station. From the front veranda of the Round House you get wonderful views of the Murray and the two bridges.

The river became the life blood of the town. After Captain Randall of Goolwa won the government sponsored race along the Murray in 1854 the riverboat trade began. Paddle steamers shipped supplies up the Murray and the Darling deep into New South Wales taking everything from pianos and jam to fencing supplies and flour. On the return trips the steamers bought the wool clip down from the western NSW stations and QLD. Customs duties were payable at the SA border or in Murray Bridge and this was a lucrative trade for SA. The heyday of the river trade for Murray Bridge was the 1890s to 1910. Although Murray Bridge was a major SA river port, the closest river port to Adelaide was Milang and much of the Lower Murray trade passed through that town. Despite the government building the railway to Morgan on the upper Murray in 1878 to tap the river trade from there, Murray Bridge still had an important river boat trade from the opening of its wharf in 1886 until 1930. It continued after that date but mainly for the carrying of milk to the cheese factory in Murray Bridge. Some goods were also offloaded from the trains after they reached the town in 1886. The Intercolonial Express started running between Adelaide and Melbourne in 1887 being the first rail link between any two Australian capitals. In 1925 a separate rail bridge was opened across the Murray so that the trains and vehicles would not have to share the 1880 bridge. The 1925 bridge has two curved spans and one flat topped span. The story goes that the spans were mixed up with those for another bridge across the Murray at Echuca but that is not so as the 1925 bridge was manufactured in SA. The eastern span has a different design because it is so long and that design was needed to maintain the strength of the span.

The township was laid out in 1883 and named Mobilong although formerly that area was known as Edwards Crossing. Not long after the name Mobilong was changed back to Edwards Crossing and finally it was changed to Murray Bridge in 1925. The township prospered because of its agricultural hinterland, the river boat trade along the Murray and the transport facilities and rail operations. The town soon had large flour mills, a butter factory and numerous stores including an early Eudunda Farmers Store (store number six) which opened in this very German town in 1904. Before 1900 a horse racing club was also formed in the town which still holds regular race meetings. The first race meeting was held in 1890 in the paddocks below Mr Jaensch’ dairy but the Murray Bridge Club was not officially registered until 1899. Most people travelled from Adelaide by train for the race meetings. The early meetings were held near the railway station but the track was moved to its current site in 1913. Its next move to a new location is now imminent. The Rural City of Murray Bridge signed an agreement in 2010 to move the race track south of the current freeway in a $35 million development with a new housing estate of 3,500 new blocks of land for 10,000 new residents in Murray Bridge. The current race track will be then be redeveloped for parks, and possibly a little housing too. Former Crows players Mark Ricciuto and Simon Goodwin are among the investors in this scheme.

Today Murray Bridge has a population of around 19,000 people and it is the third largest rural city in SA after Mt Gambier and Whyalla. Demographic projections identify it as becoming the largest rural city within a few years and that it will achieve a population of more than 30,000 by 2025. Its recent growth has been boosted by settlers from the Sudan, and employment at the Mobilong prison and Woolworth’s major SA warehouse near Monarto. Turkish, Dinka (the Sudan) and Tagalog (the Philippines) are now major languages spoken at home by new arrivals to the city. Major employers are T & R Abattoirs (800 people); Big W Warehouse (400); Big River Pork Abattoir (150); Mobilong Jail (120); United Dairy Powder Cheese Factory (80); and Bridge Press (50). The Rural City of Murray Bridge employs a further 260 people.

The Great Eastern Road was extended to Edwards Crossing on the Murray by the early 1870s when work began on the bridge across the Murray. Once the Highways Department was formed in 1926 with the advent of motorised transport a move was made to bituminise the road to Murray Bridge. This began in 1930. Then in 1952 a far sighted state government began work on a dual highway between Glen Osmond and Crafers. This was not completed until 1961 but prior to this the government had passed a bill in 1960 to build a freeway through the Adelaide Hills all the way to Murray Bridge. The first section between Crafers and Verdun opened in 1969 with it finally reaching Murray Bridge in 1979 after completion of the new Swanport Bridge across the Murray. The dual carriageway was continued to Tailem Bend.

Some Murray Bridge Buildings.

1. Edwards House – the third they built in 1886 now behind the silos and pepper trees.

2. Murray Bridge Primary School. The first government school opened in Murray Bridge in 1881. The current Primary School opened in this new location in 1912 with an average enrolment of around 300 children at that time. The Infant School was added in 1923.

3. Railway Station. The railway line reached the town in 1886. The original part of the railway station opened in 1887 with major additions in 1916. As rail traffic grew it became a major refreshment stop on the way to Melbourne. In the 1920s when Commissioner Webb took charge of the SA Railways the two storey office complex next to the station was erected.

4. The Bridgeport Hotel. This impressive and superbly sited hotel was opened in 1885 with some 29 rooms. It opened as a two storey structure in local sandstone from cliffs along the Murray with cement rendered quoins and upper wrought iron balcony.

5. Town Hall. The old Town Hall was built in stages with sympathetic additions. A triangular pediment above the main entrance door on the Main Street gives it a classical look although it was erected during the Art Deco Period. It opened in 1911. The metal spire and clock tower on the corner is decidedly German in influence and would not look out of place atop a Lutheran Church tower. It was erected in 1953. The rear part of the Town Hall complex was opened as a private hall in 1895. The Town Hall proper was built in front of this old 1895 hall. Behind the hotel is the Regional Art Gallery which is open on Sundays.

6. Finlayson’s Butter Factory. The butter factory opened around 1919. Milk was carted up and down the Murray to the factory which produced award winning butter for export and for the local market. In latter years it produced butter for Serv Well and 4 Square stores. It was demolished in the 1960s when England entered the European Common Market and the Australian butter industry withered.

7. Old Hand Crane on Wharves. This hand operated jib crane was manufactured in riveted wrought iron plate and iron castings. It was manufactured in 1887 by Gray Brothers of Port Adelaide. It has been moved several times but always on the wharves at Murray Bridge.

8. The Port of Murray Bridge. The Port of Murray Bridge was declared in 1886 under the Customs Act so that it could handle interstate trade. At great cost, a wharf 302 feet (92 metres) long was constructed, with associated storage sheds and cranes. It became one of the busiest rivers ports in SA handling around 200 steamers and barges each year. From 1908 until 1931 Eudunda Farmers’ barge shop the Pyap left Murray Bridge wharf on Mondays for a trading week up the river to Morgan and back. The port here had the advantage of being a loading/unloading point from the railway to the river which continued into the early 1940s. Murray Bridge ceased operating as a Customs collection centre in 1901 when the Commonwealth was established. Between 1910 and 1940 Murray Bridge was the home base for a government fleet of 12 river steamers and barges. Milk barges also used the wharf until 1940. The last commercial steamer to use the Murray Bridge wharf was the PS Kookaburra in 1962.

9. Old Flour Mill. The first flour mill erected in Murray Bridge opened in 1892 on the current site. It was run by the Standen family who sold out to Dunn and Co millers of Mt Barker. In 1913 it was taken over by the River Murray Milling Company (they had other mills along the Murray) and a new four storey structure was built in 1917. Like most flour mills it had a major fire in 1920 but was soon operating again. Eventually the mill was taken over by Noske’s who were the last flour milling company to operate it. It now houses a stock feed business. It is still a significant industrial building in the town landscape.

10. Christ Church Lutheran Church on Swanport Road. This imposing church built in local limestone was completed at the end of the Great Depression in 1938. It has an impressive spire and tower. The Lutheran congregation here was established in 1882 and the first church was erected in 1896. It became the church hall when the 1938 church was opened.

11. High School. The original high school opened in 1913 with 24 pupils. When the modern “new” high school was opened in the 1973 the original school became the regional education offices.

12. Lutheran Church in Florence St. A Lutheran congregation was formed as early as 1903 and a small church erected. (Before this time Evangelical Lutherans travelled out to Monarto to attend church!) A much larger twin towered Lutheran Church was completed in 1925. It dominates its streetscape with its rectangular and squat double towers. Both Lutheran congregations amalgamated in 1966 and both churches still conduct services.

13. Catholic Church. The first Catholic services in Murray Bridge were held in the Bridgeport Hotel, private homes or the old Institute building. A foundation stone was laid in 1910 for a new fine limestone church. The front is graced with a square tower with crenulations, stone buttresses on the corners and Gothic style windows and door arch. White painted cement stringing courses breaks up the bulk of the street façade. With additions it still serves as the Catholic Church.

14. Anglican Cathedral. The Anglican Church in Murray Bridge is the major church of the bishopric and is known as the Pro Cathedral Church of St John the Baptist. Like most old buildings in the town it is made of limestone. It is in one of three Anglican dioceses in SA created in 1970. There are 25 parishes in the diocese and it is the smallest cathedral church in Australia as it began life as a simple parish church in 1887. It is in fact the smallest cathedral in the world! It is small for even a “normal” rural Anglican church! Before 1887 Anglican services were conducted when the church paddle steamer called Etona visited the town.

Murray Bridge – the government town. Formerly Edwards Crossing and then Mobilong.
The first recorded white person to visit this area was Captain Charles Sturt on his epic voyage down and up the Murray in 1830/31. He passed through this place on February 8 1831. The original inhabitants the Ngarlta people, a subgroup for the Ngarrindjeri people, used the river for fish, shellfish, game, birds and bark from the giant River Red gums along the banks. The bark was used for canoes. The reeds along the banks provided fibre for mats, baskets and even shelters. The first white settler of the area was George Edwards on a property he called Coninka. As the river was suitable for a stock crossing here his spot became known as Edwards Crossing. Once plans were approved for the railway to Melbourne the government commissioned the building of a bridge here. Work began in 1874 after a quotation for a bridge at Edwards Crossing came in at half the cost of a bridge at Wellington. The bridge took six years to construct and at least one worker died during construction. It was a major engineering feat and the first bridge to span the mighty Murray anywhere in Australia. It is nearly 2,000 feet long (600 metres) and is on the register of the National Estate.

A residence was also constructed for the overseer of this project and it is known as the Round House, built between 1874-76. It has a six sided roof and it is the most historic house in Murray Bridge but additions carried out by the railways in 1917/18 to make the house larger destroyed its “round appearance.” The Superintendents of the southern railway system lived in this house which is just across from the Bridge railway station. From the front veranda of the Round House you get wonderful views of the Murray and the two bridges.

The river became the life blood of the town. After Captain Randall of Goolwa won the government sponsored race along the Murray in 1854 the riverboat trade began. Paddle steamers shipped supplies up the Murray and the Darling deep into New South Wales taking everything from pianos and jam to fencing supplies and flour. On the return trips the steamers bought the wool clip down from the western NSW stations and QLD. Customs duties were payable at the SA border or in Murray Bridge and this was a lucrative trade for SA. The heyday of the river trade for Murray Bridge was the 1890s to 1910. Although Murray Bridge was a major SA river port, the closest river port to Adelaide was Milang and much of the Lower Murray trade passed through that town. Despite the government building the railway to Morgan on the upper Murray in 1878 to tap the river trade from there, Murray Bridge still had an important river boat trade from the opening of its wharf in 1886 until 1930. It continued after that date but mainly for the carrying of milk to the cheese factory in Murray Bridge. Some goods were also offloaded from the trains after they reached the town in 1886. The Intercolonial Express started running between Adelaide and Melbourne in 1887 being the first rail link between any two Australian capitals. In 1925 a separate rail bridge was opened across the Murray so that the trains and vehicles would not have to share the 1880 bridge. The 1925 bridge has two curved spans and one flat topped span. The story goes that the spans were mixed up with those for another bridge across the Murray at Echuca but that is not so as the 1925 bridge was manufactured in SA. The eastern span has a different design because it is so long and that design was needed to maintain the strength of the span.

The township was laid out in 1883 and named Mobilong although formerly that area was known as Edwards Crossing. Not long after the name Mobilong was changed back to Edwards Crossing and finally it was changed to Murray Bridge in 1925. The township prospered because of its agricultural hinterland, the river boat trade along the Murray and the transport facilities and rail operations. The town soon had large flour mills, a butter factory and numerous stores including an early Eudunda Farmers Store (store number six) which opened in this very German town in 1904. Before 1900 a horse racing club was also formed in the town which still holds regular race meetings. The first race meeting was held in 1890 in the paddocks below Mr Jaensch’ dairy but the Murray Bridge Club was not officially registered until 1899. Most people travelled from Adelaide by train for the race meetings. The early meetings were held near the railway station but the track was moved to its current site in 1913. Its next move to a new location is now imminent. The Rural City of Murray Bridge signed an agreement in 2010 to move the race track south of the current freeway in a $35 million development with a new housing estate of 3,500 new blocks of land for 10,000 new residents in Murray Bridge. The current race track will be then be redeveloped for parks, and possibly a little housing too. Former Crows players Mark Ricciuto and Simon Goodwin are among the investors in this scheme.

Today Murray Bridge has a population of around 19,000 people and it is the third largest rural city in SA after Mt Gambier and Whyalla. Demographic projections identify it as becoming the largest rural city within a few years and that it will achieve a population of more than 30,000 by 2025. Its recent growth has been boosted by settlers from the Sudan, and employment at the Mobilong prison and Woolworth’s major SA warehouse near Monarto. Turkish, Dinka (the Sudan) and Tagalog (the Philippines) are now major languages spoken at home by new arrivals to the city. Major employers are T & R Abattoirs (800 people); Big W Warehouse (400); Big River Pork Abattoir (150); Mobilong Jail (120); United Dairy Powder Cheese Factory (80); and Bridge Press (50). The Rural City of Murray Bridge employs a further 260 people.

The Great Eastern Road was extended to Edwards Crossing on the Murray by the early 1870s when work began on the bridge across the Murray. Once the Highways Department was formed in 1926 with the advent of motorised transport a move was made to bituminise the road to Murray Bridge. This began in 1930. Then in 1952 a far sighted state government began work on a dual highway between Glen Osmond and Crafers. This was not completed until 1961 but prior to this the government had passed a bill in 1960 to build a freeway through the Adelaide Hills all the way to Murray Bridge. The first section between Crafers and Verdun opened in 1969 with it finally reaching Murray Bridge in 1979 after completion of the new Swanport Bridge across the Murray. The dual carriageway was continued to Tailem Bend.

Some Murray Bridge Buildings.

1. Edwards House – the third they built in 1886 now behind the silos and pepper trees.

2. Murray Bridge Primary School. The first government school opened in Murray Bridge in 1881. The current Primary School opened in this new location in 1912 with an average enrolment of around 300 children at that time. The Infant School was added in 1923.

3. Railway Station. The railway line reached the town in 1886. The original part of the railway station opened in 1887 with major additions in 1916. As rail traffic grew it became a major refreshment stop on the way to Melbourne. In the 1920s when Commissioner Webb took charge of the SA Railways the two storey office complex next to the station was erected.

4. The Bridgeport Hotel. This impressive and superbly sited hotel was opened in 1885 with some 29 rooms. It opened as a two storey structure in local sandstone from cliffs along the Murray with cement rendered quoins and upper wrought iron balcony.

5. Town Hall. The old Town Hall was built in stages with sympathetic additions. A triangular pediment above the main entrance door on the Main Street gives it a classical look although it was erected during the Art Deco Period. It opened in 1911. The metal spire and clock tower on the corner is decidedly German in influence and would not look out of place atop a Lutheran Church tower. It was erected in 1953. The rear part of the Town Hall complex was opened as a private hall in 1895. The Town Hall proper was built in front of this old 1895 hall. Behind the hotel is the Regional Art Gallery which is open on Sundays.

6. Finlayson’s Butter Factory. The butter factory opened around 1919. Milk was carted up and down the Murray to the factory which produced award winning butter for export and for the local market. In latter years it produced butter for Serv Well and 4 Square stores. It was demolished in the 1960s when England entered the European Common Market and the Australian butter industry withered.

7. Old Hand Crane on Wharves. This hand operated jib crane was manufactured in riveted wrought iron plate and iron castings. It was manufactured in 1887 by Gray Brothers of Port Adelaide. It has been moved several times but always on the wharves at Murray Bridge.

8. The Port of Murray Bridge. The Port of Murray Bridge was declared in 1886 under the Customs Act so that it could handle interstate trade. At great cost, a wharf 302 feet (92 metres) long was constructed, with associated storage sheds and cranes. It became one of the busiest rivers ports in SA handling around 200 steamers and barges each year. From 1908 until 1931 Eudunda Farmers’ barge shop the Pyap left Murray Bridge wharf on Mondays for a trading week up the river to Morgan and back. The port here had the advantage of being a loading/unloading point from the railway to the river which continued into the early 1940s. Murray Bridge ceased operating as a Customs collection centre in 1901 when the Commonwealth was established. Between 1910 and 1940 Murray Bridge was the home base for a government fleet of 12 river steamers and barges. Milk barges also used the wharf until 1940. The last commercial steamer to use the Murray Bridge wharf was the PS Kookaburra in 1962.

9. Old Flour Mill. The first flour mill erected in Murray Bridge opened in 1892 on the current site. It was run by the Standen family who sold out to Dunn and Co millers of Mt Barker. In 1913 it was taken over by the River Murray Milling Company (they had other mills along the Murray) and a new four storey structure was built in 1917. Like most flour mills it had a major fire in 1920 but was soon operating again. Eventually the mill was taken over by Noske’s who were the last flour milling company to operate it. It now houses a stock feed business. It is still a significant industrial building in the town landscape.

10. Christ Church Lutheran Church on Swanport Road. This imposing church built in local limestone was completed at the end of the Great Depression in 1938. It has an impressive spire and tower. The Lutheran congregation here was established in 1882 and the first church was erected in 1896. It became the church hall when the 1938 church was opened.

11. High School. The original high school opened in 1913 with 24 pupils. When the modern “new” high school was opened in the 1973 the original school became the regional education offices.

12. Lutheran Church in Florence St. A Lutheran congregation was formed as early as 1903 and a small church erected. (Before this time Evangelical Lutherans travelled out to Monarto to attend church!) A much larger twin towered Lutheran Church was completed in 1925. It dominates its streetscape with its rectangular and squat double towers. Both Lutheran congregations amalgamated in 1966 and both churches still conduct services.

13. Catholic Church. The first Catholic services in Murray Bridge were held in the Bridgeport Hotel, private homes or the old Institute building. A foundation stone was laid in 1910 for a new fine limestone church. The front is graced with a square tower with crenulations, stone buttresses on the corners and Gothic style windows and door arch. White painted cement stringing courses breaks up the bulk of the street façade. With additions it still serves as the Catholic Church.

14. Anglican Cathedral. The Anglican Church in Murray Bridge is the major church of the bishopric and is known as the Pro Cathedral Church of St John the Baptist. Like most old buildings in the town it is made of limestone. It is in one of three Anglican dioceses in SA created in 1970. There are 25 parishes in the diocese and it is the smallest cathedral church in Australia as it began life as a simple parish church in 1887. It is in fact the smallest cathedral in the world! It is small for even a “normal” rural Anglican church! Before 1887 Anglican services were conducted when the church paddle steamer called Etona visited the town.

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