Apparently the current bridge is unrepairable. Without the bridge the local residents are being forced to drive the back-way to Murchison or around the dirt roads behind the Goulburn to Chinaman's Bridge to reach the township - turning a 10 minute journey to 40+ minutes.
The bridge was the host of the longest lunch held in March every year. It is a piece of history.
The 310 metre long Kirwans Bridge is situated over the Goulburn River at Bailieston near Nagambie. It was opened in 1890 to provide access to Nagambie and the railway for the mining areas of Bailieston and Whroo.
In 1955 the bridge was modified by the construction of a new superstructure, in which its timber beams were replaced by rolled steel joists placed over the ancient piers, and its deck narrowed to a single lane, with passing bays maintaining the full 21 feet (6.3 metres) original width. The bridge retains its original forty-eight spans of sixteen and a half feet (5 metres), and its original seven main river-channel spans of thirty-three feet (10 metres). Its tall timber trestles are largely immersed under Lake Nagambie. Remnants of its original squared beams and strutted corbels - one of only two remaining examples in Victoria - are clearly visible beside the bridge. The bridge features a mid-stream bend, and is also unique in its incorporation of two vehicle passing-bays. It is set at the northern arm of Lake Nagambie, a very popular boating and fishing venue.
It is of historical significance as a work directly associated with Alfred Deakin’s dream of a great ‘National’ irrigation system based upon the construction of the Goulburn Weir. Consequently, with nearby Chinamans bridge, it was built entirely with Victorian government funds, a factor in its large size.
So significant was the access to Nagambie it provided, for those living on the west of the Goulburn River, that a threat to the bridge's continuing future in the mid-1950s led to a municipal secession movement that enlarged the Shire of Goulburn at the expense of Kirwans’ original builders, the Shire of Waranga, it remains a memorial to that municipal protest.
Kirwans Bridge is also one of a unique group of four large timber road bridges from the 1890s, of contrasting types, located on the Goulburn River between Seymour and Murchison; this is the last remaining group of large old timber river bridges in Victoria. It is of scientific significance as one of only two extant Victorian timber bridges retaining vestiges of a colonial 'strutted-corbel' type of river-bridge design. Only at Kirwans and the Jeparit Bridge is it now possible to study examples of this historic European form of timber-bridge craftmanship.
Although its visual effect is not greatly different from that of the equally rare and historic ‘strut-and-straining-piece’ design of nearby Chinamans Bridge, the detail and mechanics of the stringer-support system are structurally different. Kirwans Bridge also provides a remarkably successful example of engineering adaptation to changing vehicle needs, over more than a century. It has an exceptionally long timber deck; no road bridge in Victoria is longer.
Kirwans bridge was busy with traffic on the day I took the photos in 2008.
Info from The Bridge's Facebook page and Heritage Victoria's significance statement