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See also: railway bridges, ferries.
See also: footbridges.
See also: Causeway, Narrows, Horseshoe, Bunbury.

Fremantle Road Bridges

Fremantle has had five road bridges crossing the Swan River, two of which remain:
High Level Bridge, aka North Fremantle Bridge 1866-1909
Low Level Bridge, 1898-1909
Renovated High Level Bridge, 1909-1939/1947
Fremantle Traffic Bridge, 1939-2022
Stirling Bridge, 1974-
A NEW BRIDGE is planned to replace the existing Traffic Bridge, 2021-2122.
A 'HighLine' plan is proposed to continue to use the existing Traffic Bridge, 2022.

Before the bridges, it was necessary to go by ferry to cross the Swan River from Fremantle, either by one of the three ferries operating at various times in Fremantle, or from Preston Point to Minim Point (which was presumably at Minim Cove). The first bridge across the river was not at Fremantle, but at the Perth Causeway, east of the city, in 1843.

bridge 1

The first Fremantle bridge, 1866, was built out of timber by convict labour 1863-7, and was officially opened 2 October 1867 (Hitchock: 52). It was called the North Fremantle Bridge, and then, after the second bridge was constructed, the High Level Bridge.


The second bridge was built 1896-8 just downstream of the first and called the Low Level Bridge; 1905 photo. The Low Level Bridge was wider and stronger but much lower. It was required by the increased commercial traffic mostly as a result of gold discoveries. It was, however, not suitable for the tramway which Councils wished to extend to North Fremantle in 1908. (photo 1907, Battye Library) The Renovated High Level Bridge was a renovation of the original bridge so extensive that it is considered to be a third bridge. It was opened 18 June 1909 and the Low Level Bridge was closed and then demolished. By the 1930s the RHLB was found to have deteriorated to a point where it was necessary to replace it. It was eventually demolished in 1947.

traffic bridge

The present Fremantle Traffic Bridge, opened 15 December 1939. The 1940s photo shows the RHLB still in position on the right.


The Stirling Bridge, over which Stirling Highway goes, was opened in 1974 by Premier Charles Court. Like the road, it's named for the first Governor of WA, James Stirling. So that's five road bridges.

References and Links

Anderson, M., Cumming, D.A., Hartley, R.G., Larke, B., MacGill, G., Margetts, L. & Moore, R. (Working Party); Hartley, R.G. (Editorial Coordinator); James, B (Chairman Working Party); Edmonds, L (Compiler) 1989, Large Timber Structures in Western Australia, EHWA.

Fowler, Audrey1974, Notes on the oldest traffic bridge in Fremantle, the newsletter of the Fremantle Society, March.

Hutchison, David 1991, History of the Port of Fremantle with Emphasis on Victoria Quay, part of the volume Victoria Quay and Its Architecture, Its History and Assessment of Cultural Significance, City of Fremantle.

Margetts, Lloyd 2007, The conservation of large timber structures', Aust. J. Multi-Disciplinary Engineering, vol. 6, no. 1: 45-52.

McNulty, Kristi 2022, 'Fremantle's road bridge history', FHS Newsletter, Spring: 9-11.

Palmer, P.M. 1987, 'The role of timber bridges in the road system of Western Australia', First National Structural Engineering Conference, Melbourne, August.

Palmer, Peter 2007, 'Fremantle's Bridge Heritage', 14th National Engineering Heritage Conference Crawley WA 18-21 November.

Palmer, Peter 2012, Fremantle Bridges, Engineering Heritage WA pamphlet.

Wyche, P.J. 1989, 'Management of timber road bridges in Western Australia', Inst. Engineers Aust. National Conference, Perth, April.

Pettitt, Brad, 2019, The mayor's blog entry welcoming the bridge funding commitment, 28 March: 'Our plan is for a new bridge to be built between the existing traffic bridge and the rail bridge, and to convert the old bridge into a pedestrian and cycleway.'

Engineering Heritage Panel, Swan & Canning Rivers Bridges: Australian Engineering Week Tour 2009.

Brief note about the Stirling Bridge construction in Fremantle, the newsletter of the Fremantle Society: November 2000.

ABC article about the four Canning Bridges.

'New Fremantle Traffic Bridge funded in State Budget', govt media statement, 22 April 2019.

Wikipedia article on Queen Victoria Street.

See also:
High Level Bridge, aka North Fremantle Bridge 1866-1909
Low Level Bridge, 1898-1909
Renovated High Level Bridge, 1909-1939/1947
Fremantle Traffic Bridge, 1939-
Stirling Bridge, 1974-
Proposed new bridge, 2020
'HighLine' plan proposing to continue to use the existing Traffic Bridge
Railway bridges

Garry Gillard | New: 5 October, 2014 | Now: 1 September, 2023