This five metre long wooden model of the historic Killawarra Bridge was built by local bridge worker, Gordon Bithery. Whilst not to scale, the model was based on plans of the original Allan Truss Bridge and illustrates the design, construction and scale of the first bridge over the Manning River built in 1900-01. Built at a cost of £7,700, the Killawarra bridge was significant in terms of the opening up of the upper Manning area to the rest of the Manning and providing improved access to the North Coast regopn.
The Killawarra Bridge was reported to be one of the highest wooden bridges in the southern hemisphere at the time of its construction and was the first 5 span Allan Truss Bridge built in N.S.W. The bridge was 633 feet long and 63 feet high with the five main spans being 90 feet and two end spans being 92 feet. The strong hardwood used enabled Allan Truss bridges to be built differently to the old wooden truss bridges.
Following the 1979 floods, Gordon Bithrey, the model’s maker was one of six men engaged to undertake major repairs to the Killawarra Bridge and it was during this time that he gained an appreciation of the workmanship and details of the bridge. By 1985 the Department of Main Roads had determined that the ongoing costs of maintaining the deteriorating bridge were high and hat a new bridge should be built. The old bridge was demolished in 1989.
Mr Bithrey built the model in response to the news that the historic bridge was to be demolished. Originally intended as a feature over his garden pond, the bridge model is now a popular exhibit at the Wingham Museum.