The Snowy River floodplain bridge served as a vital piece of economic infrastructure for many years. Standing at 770 metres long, it has straddled the historic Snowy River flood plains since 1916. The bridge has been a vital economic link to the town of Orbost - including connecting the town to crucial trade routes and to sending and welcoming back soldiers from war.
For years, the historic bridge has been at risk of collapsing. Many advocates including the Friends of East Gippsland Rail Trail have been calling for the bridge to be transformed into a cycling and walking trail, which could be incorporated into the East Gippsland Rail Trail, and enjoyed by tourists as well as the local community.
In early 2019, we were commissioned by Friends of East Gippsland Rail Trail to assess the economic and social viability of restoring the historic Snowy River floodplain railway bridge at Orbost, Victoria. Our cost-benefit analysis showed that restoring the bridge would significantly benefit the Victorian community, including:
- greater economic opportunities associated with an expanded visitor economy
- preserving a cultural landmark
- creating a new recreational asset for the Orbost community
- providing the opportunity to tell the stories of the district, including farming, transport, Aboriginal cultural heritage and the history of the Bairnsdale to Orbost rail line.
Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said: 'It’s an excellent report and it forecasts positive economic, social and cultural benefits in return for restoring the bridge to a condition that locals and visitors can enjoy".
In November 2020, the Andrews Government announced the Victorian Budget 2020/21 will provide $18.5 million to build new accommodation, upgrade the East Gippsland Rail Trail and improve access to remote natural and man-made attractions.