History told

March 07, 2018

A local community group is planning to prepare an information board to be placed on the western side of Kirwans Bridge.

It is one of the Goulburn Valley’s most significant historic structures, visited by thousands of people each year.

However Kirwans Bridge, one of Victoria’s longest and oldest timber bridges, remains a mystery to most of those who make their way over its unique crooked alignment to cross the Goulburn River.

The mystery is about to be unlocked.

A local community group is planning to prepare an information board for erection on the western side of the bridge, which has plenty of space for visitors to stop safely, park their vehicles and view the magnificent bridge.

Just four kilometres from Nagambie, the spectacular river crossing was built in 1889 and opened in 1890, arising from the construction of the Goulburn Weir just a few kilometres downstream.

The weir created a vast backwater, and the two riverside shire councils, Waranga to the west and Goulburn to the east, got together in 1889 to fund the important bridge.

Both shires have since been absorbed, re-named and re-aligned so that the Shire of Strathbogie is now the bridge’s guardian.

The 310m bridge is certainly a survivor.

A massive flood in 1916 required a major restoration project.

In 1955 the bridge’s future was in peril, but repairs to one lane and the closure of the other, created the special passing bays to allow ‘‘opposites’’ to meet, pause, then progress to the other side.

In 2000, Strathbogie Council closed the bridge, prompting a community campaign to save the bridge by generating interest and funding from the three levels of government.

Works finally completed in 2004 saved the day. But only temporarily.

In 2010 the bridge was closed again due to nervousness about safety, but a massive community campaign and a ‘‘second engineering opinion’’ meant that works costing well under $100000 restored the aged river crossing.

The bridge has been and remains a vital link for residents, travellers, farmers, tourists and emergency services vehicles.

For all Victorians, it stands as a magnificent tribute to the original engineers, and all construction and maintenance workers since 1890.

While a primary text has been endorsed for the information board, the local action group is asking readers to loan any historic photos they may hold, for possible inclusion in the display.

Anyone with photo material, or any other information, is requested to phone Alan McLean on 0412143660.

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