The Red Bridge in Campbell Town, is a charming piece of colonial architecture that is well worth stopping and admiring. The bridge crosses the Elizabeth River at Campbell Town, a popular place to stop for lunch while travelling on the Midland Highway.
Built by convicts in 1838, The Red Bridge is the oldest surviving brick arch bridge in Australia, and the oldest bridge on the National Highway network. There are three arch spans of 7.6 m each, with the road surface holding two lanes of traffic plus footpaths. It’s a testament to the strength of colonial construction, carrying over two million vehicles each year including large trucks.
Spend some time admiring the bridge from the nearby riverbanks. It’s a nice place to grab some food from the local cafes and have a picnic when visiting Campbell Town or passing through on your way to Hobart or Launceston.
History of the Red Bridge
In 1834 architect John Lee Archer, who was responsible for many buildings in Richmond and other parts of Tasmania, observed that the bridge in Campbell Town was in a poor state and should be rebuilt in a new location with stronger materials.
The Red Bridge was constructed with three arches with the piers of the bridge made from cut and dressed sandstone, the arches, parapets and upper sections of the long walls stretching along the river on each side of the bridge are made from red clay bricks which were made on site. While they have lost a little of their shiny red colour, the bricks are in tremendous condition for their age, sometimes making visitors question the age and originality of the bridge. These red bricks give the bridge its name, The Red Bridge.
The Bridge now carries over two million cars each year on the busy Midland Highway and manages this with little repair work.