Albury is a major regional city in New South Wales, Australia, located on the Hume Highway on the northern side of the Murray River. It is the seat of local government for the council area which also bears the city's name - the City of Albury. Albury has an urban population of 45,627 people. It is separated from its twin city in Victoria, Wodonga by the Murray River. Together, the two cities form an urban area with a population of more than 80,000. It is 462 kilometres (287 mi) from the state capital Sydney and 326 kilometres (203 mi) from the Victoriancapital Melbourne.
Said to be named after a town in England, Albury developed as a major transport link between the colonies of New South Wales and Victoria and was proclaimed a city in 1946.
New South Wales
Albury, as viewed from the War Memorial on Monument Hill
Lake Hume is situated on the Murray River 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) upstream of Albury. The Hume Dam (colloquially termed the Weir locally) wall construction took 17 years, from 1919–1936. A hydro-electric power plant supplies 60 megawatts (80,000 hp) of power to the state grid. When full, the lake covers 80 square kilometres (31 sq mi).
The lake was created for irrigation purposes and has caused significant changes to the flow patterns and ecology of the Murray River. Before the construction of the Hume Weir, flows in normal (non-drought) years were low in summer and autumn (though still significant overall), rising in winter due to seasonal rainfall and reaching a flood-peak in late spring due to snow-melt in the Murray and its tributaries' alpine headwaters. The flow is now effectively reversed, with low flows in winter and sustained, relatively high flows in late spring, summer and early autumn to meet irrigation demands, although the spring flood peak has been virtually eliminated. The water released from the base of the Hume Weir is unnaturally cold. This flow reversal, temperature depression and removal of the spring flood peak has led to the drying out and loss of many billabongs and has harmed the populations of native fish of the Murray River such as the iconic Murray Cod.
Situated on the old Hume Hwy , Albury is a major transit point for interstate commerce. From March 2007, Albury was bypassed by the new Hume Freeway. The new freeway includes the new Spirit of Progress Bridge over the Murray River and cost $518 million, the most expensive road project ever built in regional Australia.
The other minor highways which connect to Albury are the Riverina Hwy , which continues west through Berrigan toDeniliquin and east to Lake Hume; and the Olympic Highway (renamed from the Olympic Way) which diverges left from the Hume 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) north of Albury, into the centre of NSW, passing through Wagga Wagga and terminating with the Mid-Western Highway at Cowra.
In 1888, the Smollett Street wrought iron arch bridge was constructed over Bungambrawatha Creek. Smollet Street was extended westward through the botanical gardens to give direct access from the Albury Railway Station to Howlong Road by a straight street. The bridge is near the botanic gardens and the local swimming pool. The bridge is a rare example of a metal arch bridge in New South Wales, and is the oldest of only two metal arch bridges in New South Wales, the other being the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Albury railway station is on the main Sydney-Melbourne railway line. Originally, New South Wales and Victoria had differenttrack gauges, which meant that all travellers in either direction had to change trains at Albury. To accommodate this, a very long railway platform was needed; the 450-metre (1,480 ft) long covered platform is possibly the longest in Australia. The broad gauge section of track between Seymour and Albury has now been converted to standard gauge; there is no longer a break-of-gauge at Albury station. The station is served by a three daily V/Line train services from Melbourne (terminating at Albury) and the NSW TrainLink Melbourne-Sydney XPT service, which run twice daily in each direction.
In 1873, the 5-foot-3-inch (1.60 m) broad gauge railway line from Melbourne reached the township of Belvoir/Wodonga. In 1881, the New South Wales 4-foot-8.5-inch (1.435 m) standard gauge railway line reached Albury, with a railway bridge joining the two colonies in 1883. Albury became the stop over, where passengers on the Melbourne-Sydney journey changed trains until 1962, when a standard gauge track was opened between the two capitals. After World War II, in an attempt to overcome the difference in gauges and speed up traffic, a bogie exchange device lifted freight wagons and carriages allowing workers to refit rolling stock with different gauged wheel-sets.
The break of railway gauge at Albury was a major impediment to Australia's war effort and infrastructure during both World Wars, as every soldier, every item of equipment, and all supplies had to be off-loaded from the broad gauge and reloaded onto a standard gauge railway wagon on the opposite side of the platform. In his book Tramps Abroad, writer Mark Twainspoke of the break of gauge at Albury and changing trains: "Now comes a singular thing, the oddest thing, the strangest thing, the unaccountable marvel that Australia can show, namely the break of gauge at Albury. Think of the paralysis of intellect that gave that idea birth" (cited by Fischer below).
The conversion of the broad gauge track to a second standard gauge track, between Seymour and Albury, was substantially completed in 2011.