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Image 'Southern Cross' above Sydney Harbour Bridge, 1931

TLF ID R3164

This is a 1931 gelatin silver-toned composite photograph measuring 32 cm x 25.5 cm, produced by Hall and Co. It shows Charles Kingsford Smith's monoplane, the 'Southern Cross', flying over the partially constructed Sydney Harbour Bridge, escorted by a biplane. The view is from the north-west, probably McMahons Point, and shows, in the foreground, a ship docked at the bridge construction workshops wharf. East Circular Quay wharf, the Bennelong Point tram sheds, Government House and Farm Cove are all in the background.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset demonstrates a creative photographic technique called montage, in which images of aeroplanes have been superimposed on an aerial photograph of Sydney Harbour taken in about June 1930 - the depicted flight over the Bridge never happened, for the flattened tyres and immobile propeller on Kingsford Smith's 'Southern Cross' in the foreground indicate that the aeroplane was probably photographed on the ground.
  • It depicts two dramatic events in Australia's transport history - the first bridge connecting the south and north shores of Sydney Harbour being constructed and the symbol of pioneering aviation, Kingsford Smith's aeroplane, the 'Southern Cross', flying overhead; in 1936 Sydney Airport was named Kingsford Smith Aerodrome in honour of the famous Australian aviator.
  • It shows the progress of Sydney Harbour Bridge, with 580-tonne electrically operated creeper cranes on each side of the main arch, a few months before the arch was joined on 19 August 1930 - built to an original design by Dr John Bradfield of the NSW Public Works Department and constructed by the British firm Dorman Long and Co, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the biggest steel arch bridge in the world.
  • It shows the Sydney Harbour Bridge at a stage before steel decking was hung from the arch, with road, tram and railway lines yet to come and with the bridge construction site, later the site of Luna Park, in the foreground on the left - the Bridge was officially opened on 19 March 1932.
  • It provides an image of Kingsford Smith's famous monoplane, the 'Southern Cross', manufactured in the USA and in which Kingsford Smith ('Smithy') and Charles Ulm first crossed the Pacific Ocean in 1928 - later, Kingsford Smith piloted the 'Southern Cross' in the first flight across the Australian continent and the first nonstop flight across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand.
  • It portrays Sydney Harbour in 1930 with harbour ferries and other shipping, the Bennelong Point tram sheds, now the site of the Sydney Opera House, and eastern suburbs such as Kings Cross in the distance.
  • It suggests the investigative skills needed to accurately date some historical images - Hall and Co created the composite photograph in 1931 but by that year the arch on the Sydney Harbour Bridge was joined and the creeper cranes were no longer in place.
Year level

F; 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • history;
  • studies of society and environment
  • Studies of society and environment/Time, continuity and change
  • History/Historical knowledge and understandings

Other details

  • Content provider
  • Copyright holder
  • Organisation: National Library of Australia
  • Remarks: Reproduced courtesy of National Library of Australia
  • Author
  • Date of contribution: 1931
  • Organisation: Hall and Company
  • Remarks: photographer
  • Publisher
  • Date of contribution: 30 Aug 2013
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning resource type
  • Image
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer - minimum version: 8.0 (MS-Windows) - maximum version: 9.0 (MS-Windows)
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  • Safari - minimum version: 5.1 (MacOS)
Operating systems
  • MacOS - minimum version: 10.6
  • MS-Windows - minimum version: XP - maximum version: 7
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements