The timber trestle bridge was built in 1915 at the Orbost end of the Bairnsdale-Orbost railway line. At one time, the line had many trestle bridges over its 100-kilometer (62-mile) length, but many have been lost over time. The Snowy River Floodplain Railway Bridges are two sequential and exceptionally long and low timber railway bridges across the Snowy River floodplain. They measure 770 meters (2,526 feet) and 183 meters (600 feet) long, and make up the state’s longest timber rail bridge. Most of these bridges have now gone and those that remain, like the Orbost bridge, and the Stony Creek bridge near Nowa Nowa, are of huge significance.
From when the line opened in 1916 to when it closed in 1987, the line was a lifeblood for Orbost and the other towns along the line. This included the local agricultural and timber industry and brought great wealth into the town for many years until eventually, road transport became a viable alternative.
The Orbost Railway Bridge is also significant in that its huge longitudinal beams are made from Southern Mahogany, which was once common nearby but has become rare. Much of the other infrastructure like the Orbost Railway Station is now gone, but both bridges, including the huge 770-meter length of the timber bridge, remains.
The long low profiles of these bridges winding across the floodplain from Orbost towards Bairnsdale have long been a significant part of the river plain landscape. Over the years, the bridge has been subject to flood damage from the Snowy River and repaired numerous times.
The historical value of the bridge is such that recently AUD $3.5 million in funding was allocated to restore and preserve the bridge for pedestrian and cycling access for the 100-kilometer (60-mile) rail trail between Orbost and Bairnsdale.