Home' The Murray Pioneer : February 3rd 2017 Contents www.murraypioneer.com.au Friday, February 3, 2017 NEWS 17
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The Paringa Bridge story
AT 1AM on the morning of
Monday, January 31, 1927 at
Adelaide Railway Station a
steam locomotive, Mikado No.
702, started off from one of the
platforms with a train full of
dignitaries, bound for Renmark.
This was the first train ever to
be destined for the small river port
near the South Australian border.
Previously the railhead was at
Paringa, an even smaller, but older,
settlement on the southern side of
the river near Renmark.
The only stumbling block to
making Renmark a big port was
that there was no means of crossing
the river... until now.
THE last attempt at a rail line was
planned to come down Renmark
Avenue to Holden’s Corner, where
it would’ve met the river (where the
lion statue now sits on the Renmark
It would have created a shorter
distance between the paddle steam-
ers and the trains than that of
Morgan and Echuca with their big,
In fact, Renmark could have
become a main port along the river.
On October 12, 1920 the ps
Industry arrived at Renmark, moor-
ing just down from the town wharf
with Governor Archibald Weigall.
At a ceremony on what is now
the grounds near the lion in the
Taylor Memorial Gardens, the
first sod of the Renmark-Paringa
Railway was turned.
Most of the town turned out to
watch the ceremony, however the
line to the river front was never
completed due to the envisaged
“loudness of the engines all day
As the train charged on through
the early hours of the morning
the townspeople of Paringa and
Renmark were hanging signs
around the town and decorating the
Renmark Railway Station and the
new bridge at Paringa.
Six miles out of Paringa was a
siding known as Wonuarra Siding.
There, the train met a group of
people, headed by Mr. J. Heilmann,
who decorated the ‘locomotive in
pepper tree, corn and eucalyptus
branches, along with a big sign
across the front of the boiler read-
ing ‘Renmark’s first train’.
The ride from Adelaide was
described as “fairly warm – but not
As the train arrived at Paringa it
was greeted by hundreds and more
than 20 cars, all waiting for their
chance to cross the new bridge over
However, one thing still had to
be attended to. The train slowly
ground to a halt near the southern
side of the new bridge, alongside
what is today the Renmark/Paringa
The dignitaries exited the train
to meet at the edge of the bridge
where speeches were made and
finally the Attorney-General, Mr.
W. J. Denny, drove in the last rail-
way spike to complete the line to
He was then presented with a
souvenir in the shape of a nickel
spike by the chairman of the
Renmark Railway Committee.
Mr Denny replied by saying he
was pleased to avoid any mishaps
while driving the final spike in and
joked that he thought of returning
to Adelaide and asking for a job
driving spikes on the Renmark to
The train then moved across the
new bridge and on to Renmark.
It was followed by the first car,
owned and driven by the Paringa
Council’s chairman, who was in
turn followed by the district clerk.
Upon arrival in Renmark, 1.8
miles along the line from the
bridge, the train was greeted by the
entire population of the township,
as all children were given a day off
form school to see the first train
come into town.
LINING the station grounds were
the many flags of the nationalities
that made up Renmark’s population.
The dignitaries were then treated
to lunch and a performance at
the Renmark Hotel before head-
ing home on the train, departing
Renmark at 10.30pm.
That new bridge, named the
Paringa Bridge, is 568ft (or 173m)
long, consisting of six conjoined
spans, five fixed and one movable.
The lift span was built on the
southern side of the bridge as this
is the deepest water in that stretch,
being on the outside of the bend.
The lift span is 78ft (23.7m) long
and has a 44ft (13.4m) rise.
The bridge can lift to full height
in 90 seconds and was originally
designed for rail traffic only.
However, due to the slowness
of the old ferry (especially after
the ferry capsized with a load of
horses, killing one man) it was
decided to incorporate two canti-
lever roadways on either side of
the bridge structure stretching 12ft
(3.6m) each way. The Paringa ferry
was transferred to Lyrup after the
THE total cost of the bridge was
£109,400 ($181,464), £23,300
($38,648) of which was contrib-
uted by the Roads and Bridges
The first paddle steamer to pass
through the Paringa Bridge was the
ps Gem on Tuesday, October 12,
1926, although the bridge was not
completed at the time.
Of interest, the Mikado No. 702
is still around, having survived
being scrapped. She is now on
display in the National Railway
Museum at Port Dock Station in
Happy 90th birthday to the
Paringa Bridge from me and the
crew at the ps Industry.
mJackson Wickham is the ps Industry
promotions officer and a local
paddle steamer enthusiast
WHAT A MORNING: Renmark West Primary School student Amber Petricevic, 12, took this photograph
during an early morning ride around Renmark in the school holidays.
Locals celebrated 90 years of the Paringa Bridge earlier this week. PHOTO: Grant Schwartzkopff
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