The Causeway Crossing the Swan River in Perth is Opened to Traffic

May 24, 1843

In the British colony (and present-day state) of Western Australia, the first of a series of bridges known as the Causeway was opened to serve as a crossing over the Swan River and connect the town (now city) of Perth with the port of Fremantle.  For more than a decade, many settlers in the region had strongly advocated for a viable transportation link that would enable them to travel across the Swan River and its mudflats without too much trouble.

In 1834, a preliminary survey of the site for the new causeway was conducted by George Fletcher Moore, the commissioner for roads and bridges; and John Septimus Roe, the colony’s first surveyor-general. It wasn’t until 1840, however, that construction on the causeway actually began.

The original Causeway, which consisted of a central bridge with a raised rampart on either side, was hailed by the Western Australian Journal as “one of the best public works constructed throughout the Colony.” The structure was formally opened by J.W. Hardey, chairman of the local road trust. He was accompanied by a friend identified only as Mr. M. Clarkson. Other than the two of them, lamented the Western Australian Journal, “not a single individual attended on the occasion of the opening of this great improvement and essential work connected with the interests of the colonists at large.”

The second Causeway with a tram, viewed from the Perth side, c. 1906.

Not long after floods nearly destroyed this causeway in 1862, efforts to build a replacement for it began in earnest. The new structure, which consisted of three bridges that were raised to better withstand flooding conditions, was opened to a great deal of fanfare in 1867. This causeway remained in service until yet another version was built between 1947 and 1952 to accommodate heavier motor vehicle traffic in the area. This third and current version of the Causeway is made up of two bridges that meet at Heirisson Island in the Swan River.

For more information on the various versions of the Perth-area Causeway in Western Australia, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Causeway.

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