Moruya granite and the Harbour Bridge

On 19th Jan 2022 the Sydney Harbour Bridge will be 90 yrs old, celebrations are planned in Sydney and Moruya. The following text about the granite used in the bridge is extracted from Moruya’s “Golden Years” About to Begin by Shirley Jurmann

So Moruya granite had been chosen for the pylons of the new North Shore Bridge, soon to be known as the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge or affectionately, as “The Coathanger”.

Why Moruya granite? The reasons were many and all added up to it being the most suitable. Moruya granite had been known in Sydney from the mid-1860s but John Ross at the Pilot Station at South Heads also sent samples to Mr James Barnet, Colonial Architect.  John Ross had very early begun to sing the praises of Moruya granite. On 5th August 1866 he wrote to the editor of The Empire newspaper suggesting that Moruya granite would make an excellent paving material for the streets of Sydney. It had been used in buildings, the pillars of the Sydney GPO, the pedestal of the Captain Cook Statue and the pedestal of the Queen Victoria Statue. There was plenty of it, it was of good quality, it had passed various tests, it had a good rock face and was in an ideal position close to the river to make loading of ships to transport the granite to Sydney easier. The Government would provide a quarry free of royalties.

The decision was made and contracts signed with Dorman, Long and Company.

The grey granite was not perfect. There were slight imperfections and blemishes visible to the eye of the expert. It was not equal in appearance to the beautiful black and grey granites of Central Tilba, about 10 miles further south, but it had the strength and quality sufficient to stand up for ages in its future work on the Bridge pylons.

Apart from the earth stripping there would be no quarry waste. Any stones too small or unsuitable for cutting and dressing would be passed through Hadfield crushers. The crushed material would be used as concrete aggregate of which a large quantity was required.

The first sod at the quarry was turned on 18th September 1924. In a few months the clearing and levelling of the site was in full swing. Soon a manager, Mr J. Gilmore, would arrive from Scotland, local men, then masons from Scotland and Italy would be employed, houses would be built for families, bachelor quarters for single men, quarters for Italians with their own cook, machinery and crushers would arrive from Sydney, sheds for workshops, machinery, would be erected, a wharf built, a railway line for transportation of the stone to ships, a whole township complete with school, post office, recreation hall would appear. The whole area became a very busy, noisy place and remained so until 1931 until the contract for the pylons of the Bridge was fulfilled.

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