Amazing Feat of Batman Bridge, Tasmania

It was a lovely day… a little overcast to start with, but perfect for a nice walk.  We live near Launceston and I’m showing you some of the wonderful Tamar Valley Discover Trails that I’ve found. Today was the day we’d chosen to walk across the Batman Bridge, Tasmania which crosses the Tamar River.

Tasmanian Map

Location of Tamar River Estuary, Tasmania

 

 

So Who Was Batman?

batman Bridge Tasmania

Tasmanian history is quite fascinating.  Life was really tough in those early times, and although Tasmania was gradually being settled, most mainland Australia remained a perfect mystery.

The first settlement in Australia was in Botany Bay, Sydney, NSW on 26th January, 1788 .  In 1803, some of the convicts (those who had committed petty crimes back in the United Kingdom) were sent to Hobart, Tasmania where despite everything, the colony flourished.

A couple of times they’d tried to set up a colony where Melbourne now stands, but they’d failed miserably, what with lack of water and enormous problems with the natives of the area, so they gave up.

Eventually in 1835,  John Batman. a grazier, entrepreneur and explorer, led an expedition across the Bass Straight (that’s the water separating the Australian mainland from Tasmania) where he eventually found the Yarra River.  He made a successful deal with the local aborigines and so from such humble beginnings Melbourne grew.

This bridge was named after him when it was opened in 1968.

What’s Kanamaluka?

It’s the indigenous name for the Tamar River.  The name is on the sign out of respect for the aboriginal people.

2-kanamaluka

Kanamaluka is the Aboriginal name for the River Tamar

Why Did They Choose This Spot?

Estuary of the Tamar River

Map of Tamar River Estuary – 70 kilometres long

You can see from the map above, how all the water has to squeeze through this narrow section of the river, four times a day with the changing of the tide. Two times in and two times out.

It was logical to choose this place as it was one of the narrowest parts of the river and positionally would serve the movements of the people well.

 

What Year Was the Bridge Built?

down stream from bridge

Looking down stream

The idea to build a bridge across at this point was first discussed back in the mid 1940’s.  They began in 1966 and eventually after much head-scratching, the bridge was opened in 1968.  It was one of the first bridges of its kind built in the world, and certainly the first cable-stayed bridge in Australia.

 

looking straight down

Looking straight down from off the bridge

It’s a long way down to the ground below.

Looking down to the water below

Marilyn looking down to the water

 

my husband crossing the bridge

Crossing the Batman Bridge

The building of this unusual bridge was quite a feat.  You see, on the western side of the river its solid dolerite rock provided a wonderful area for very strong foundations, but on the eastern side, it was a totally different story. There it was only soft clay which was not strong enough to support a large bridge such as this.  So what to do?

So How Did They Build The Bridge?

western side

On the western side of the Batman Bridge

This is where ingenuity comes in to play.  It was decided to lodge a large steel A-frame structure into the solid dolerite rock.  This leans right out over the river.  Later when they attached the cables, it was able to carry almost 80% of the main span of the bridge.

 

Batman Bridge structure

Unusual structure of the Batman Bridge

On the eastern side they made a causeway over the soft clay.  This was carried by 4 piers which sat on piles which had been driven 18 metres into the clay.  What a clever idea!  So now with one kind of construction on the western side, and a different kind of construction on the eastern side, they had solved the problem!  Well done boys!

 

Benefits of Walking Exercise

journey across the batman bridge

Our walking journey

To really see how it was all accomplished, we decided to take a walk across the bridge, and then follow Auld Kirk Road along the river.   What we saw on this walk was a hundred times more than you can see by just driving over it.

What a wonderful walk it turned out to be.  Apart from the obvious benefits of walking exercise, you have the wonderful opportunity to really see what’s around you.

 

under the Batman Bridge

Under the Batman Bridge, looking up

The A-frame reaches high into the sky and can be seen for miles around.  Many people like to build their homes where they can see the Batman Bridge in the distance.  It really stands out.  As you can see, the bridge itself has been constructed out of light and very strong steel.

Driving under it in a car you miss the wonder of the work that’s gone into the bridge!

 

Presbyterian Auld Kirk Church

Auld Kirk Presbyterian Church built by convicts and free labour

As we continued along Auld Kirk Road towards Sidmouth, we found  this delightful old church.  “Auld Kirk” meant “old church” to it’s Scottish forebears.  It was built back in 1843 by both convicts and free labour.  Looking at it I couldn’t help but wonder if the convicts did all the hard manual work while the “free labour” people took care of the simpler titivating!

Convicts were the people of the time who had been “convicted” of petty crimes.  Often times it was for as little as stealing a loaf of bread when they were desperately hungry.  These men and women had been shipped from the United Kingdom for a minimum of seven years. Virtually none of them returned.

These people were responsible for building most of the buildings in Tasmania in their time, many of the convicts in chains, or even connected together in chain gangs.  Those days were terrible indeed, but they have left us with some amazingly beautiful buildings, many of them still in use today.

 

lighthouse memorial

Auld Kirk Lighthouse Memorial

Just down past the church is a little lighthouse monument type structure. It’s strange really, as it looks a bit like a rocket!  I was keen to see what its origins were.  Apparently, because of the water dangers of the area, and because there was only one lighthouse over the other side of the river, the then minister of the Auld Kirk church used to shine a light in the front room of his cottage each night to assist any who may be out on the water. He sounds like he was a kind heart-ed man.

 

 
Tamar River view

Part of the Tamar River near the Auld Kirk Lighthouse

Each part of the Tamar River is a different width, with some quite narrow points and some very wide areas.  This is looking into a little bay off the main stream of the river.  A quiet place to anchor your boat.

Whirlpool Reach


Watching the whirlpools form at Whirlpool Reach, near Batman Bridge, Tamar River, Tasmania

There are so many whirlpools in the river, particularly on the northern side of the bridge, in the area called “Whirlpool Reach”.  They happen each time the tide changes and are quite easy to see.

We had met a man who lived a little way up to the north of the bridge in a little bay.  He told us the story of way back in the sailing ship days, the ships had to anchor in his little bay and wait for the right tides so they could pass through Whirlpool Reach.  Apparently, if they didn’t wait, the ships simply turned in circles!  Personally, I’d be very careful taking a boat through there.


Watching hundreds of Jelly Fish flowing out with the tide from the Batman Bridge, Tamar River, Tasmania

As we were walking back over the bridge again we were watching the water to see if we could see any life.  As it turned out, we saw hundreds, and I mean hundreds, of jelly fish.  Wow, I wouldn’t want to be in the water!  They sting!  Anyway, as the tide was on its way out, the jelly fish really only had to allow themselves to be swept along in the currents.  I bet a few of them went round and round as they hit the whirlpools!

It reminds me of one day when we were young.  My parents took all us young ones out for a swim in the later afternoon.  We arrived at Wyong Creek at a place called Chittaway Point.  I remember my brother and a couple of our cousins racing towards the water… “Beat you across to the other side!” they yelled.

Into the water they dived, swimming furiously to the other side.  But…when they were about half way across there was much hollering because the water was full of jelly fish.  LOL, I always remember it with a grin!  Bet they were more careful in the future!

back again on eastern side

Beautiful countryside near the Batman Bridge

It was nice to see the wildlife as we walked back along the road.  Tried to take a photo of the wallabies hopping by but unfortunately they were just too quick for me.

Looking back to Tamar River

Looking off the bridge on the opposite side

Do you have wonderful places to walk where you live?  Have you ever taken the time to really suss out your local area and to enjoy what nature has to offer?  Please leave me a comment down below and share it with me…

What a wonderful walk we had that day.  It’s really quite addictive!  I would recommend that if you are ever in the area you should take some time out to enjoy this Tamar Valley Discovery Trail.  You couldn’t find anywhere to be more interesting than the Batman Bridge, Tasmania.

Warm regards,
Marilyn Williams shares her experience of the difference it made when she concentrated on building her health rather than trying to lose weight

Marilyn Williams

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8 Comments:

  1. This is so cool! I am jealous, I’ve always wanted to go to Tasmania!

    Plus a place called Batman bridge? I know where my next traveling trip is going to be. And thanks for the short history lesson, I think that would make the experience all the more interesting.

    Explore onward! 🙂 and thanks for the cool post. Inspires me to travel to more places

    • Haha, thanks Koda… I’m glad you enjoyed my post and that its sparked a desire in you to visit the Batman Bridge in Tasmania! I’m quite sure you will love it as its in a really lovely place. Make sure you have time to go for a walk to fully enjoy the surroundings. Look for all the whirlpools which are seen directly from the bridge

  2. You have so much great information about Tasmania on this page! I am thinking about taking a trip. I wanted to know about the Franklin Gordon Wild Rivern National Park.

    Do you think it would be a good place to go for a camping trip. I love the outdoors, and to be by the river. As you can Imagine though, it is not good to just arrive without having an idea of where or what it is you are getting your self in to.

    I love water, rivers, lakes and sea. Do you think that I would enjoy Tasmania?

    Regards

    • Hi Jammy! I think Tassy is a marvellous place to go camping. I would plan on it over the summer months (December – February) though as that’s usually very dry. Could be a month or two either side. Our winter is usually the wet time.

      If you love water, rivers, lakes and sea you couldn’t go wrong here. We have them all. And… with Tassy being not so big it doesn’t take all that long to get from one place to another, with a complete change of scenery.

      I have not yet been down to the Gordon River… it’s on my “to-do” list. The wild west does get a lot more rain than other parts of Tassy so I’d check about the camping.

      Thanks for your kind comments… and hope you do come here one day… soon!

      Marilyn

  3. You caught me at Batman, and I was desperate to see what he was doing in Tasmania. From New Zealand originally, I went to secondary school with a girl from Tasmania, although I haven’t visited yet. This was a fascinating look at some of the history and I loved your pictures. I always enjoy hearing about people’s personal travel experiences. I also love walking. How long did it take to complete the walk you have marked on the map? I look forward to visiting Tasmania one day!

    • LOL Mara… yes we found him not far from here! I hope you do take the opportunity to visit Tassy as it’s a really lovely place.

      The walk took us approximately 1hr 10 minutes I believe. I know we did take notice of the time but I didn’t write it down anywhere… you know how it is!

      Thank you for your kind comments, I’m happy you liked them.

      Marilyn

  4. Thank you very much for the great story!
    I never been in Tasmania but visited my cousins in Sidney, Gulf Coast and Melbourne back in 2006. Australia has always been the place to be.
    And the Batman Bridge you described is almost the same as Cable Bridge across the Daugava River in my native Riga, Latvia.
    Take care of wombats!

    • Thanks Andre… I like your comments! Yes it does look a little similar to the one your mentioned… I guess they also had problems for stability.

      I would always take care of wombats! I find them so cute.

      Thanks again. Marilyn

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