Help unlock mystery of historical bridge

March 29, 2018

Rehabilitation work is underway to strengthen the much loved Kirwans Bridge, near Nagambie.

The mysteries of Victoria’s longest and oldest timber bridge will soon be unlocked with a new information board planned for Kirwans Bridge’s western end.

The board will give a glimpse into the rich story of the historic landmark.

But they need your help to see it come to fruition.

The group is calling for any historical photos that could be included in the display.

‘‘And not only old photos, but also old anecdotes — perhaps someone had an ancestor who worked on the bridge,’’ organiser Alan McLean said. ‘‘This local information will only add further colour and movement to the board.’’

Just four kilometres from Nagambie, Kirwans Bridge is one of the Goulburn Valley’s most significant historic structures.

Despite being visited by thousands each year, the history of the bridge has been shrouded in mystery.

Opened in 1890, the 310m bridge is certainly a survivor.

Standing firm after a flood swept through the region in 1916, the bridge faced another peril in 1955, with fears the disintegrating bridge would have to be shut down.

But repairs to one lane and the closure of the other created special passing bays that allowed safe passage for drivers.

In 2000, the bridge’s future was threatened once again when it was closed by Strathbogie Council.

After a community campaign generated interest and funding from the three levels of government, works were finally completed in 2004, saving the day. But only temporarily.

In 2010, the bridge was closed again due to safety fears, but a community campaign and an additional engineering opinion led to a second round of works which restored the aged river crossing.

‘‘It’s a facility the community has had to fight to retain,’’ Alan said. ‘‘But it’s not just for the community. This is a bridge for all Victorians.

‘‘And it remains a vital link for residents, travellers, farmers, tourists and emergency service vehicles.’’

Anyone with photos or information can phone Alan McLean on 0412143660.

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