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Friday, 3 February 2017

Bridge over the Merri River, Hopkins Basin - Port Fairy Railway Line.

This bridge crosses the Merri River near Dennington, an outer western suburb of Warrnambool, on the former Port Fairy line. The bridge would have been constructed in approximately 1890 and the line closed finally in 1977. The rail was retained and still exists from Warrnambool to the Fonterra factory at Dennington, the remainder being lifted.

At the point where the line crosses the Merri River, a section known as the Hopkins Basin, the river is approximately 45 metres wide. The bridge itself is approx. 175 metres long, the number of openings being unknown as a 50 metre section of bridge has been removed over the river itself.

I have to say I was disappointed by this bridge, it looked large and impressive in all the glimpses I got of it, both in the flesh and via Google Earth, but on arriving there it was not all that special. Having been nobbled by the removal of a large section, and the remaining part was heavily fenced off, making any decent exploration hazardous, and the vegetation surrounding it guaranteed to harbour snakes, I was unimpressed.

A lovely man in the house where the line crosses Farnham Road North, has been mowing the ROW for ages, and so it is perfectly possible to drive a car down it to reach the bridge, although his wife did warn me about tiger snakes in the long vegetation. Georgia the Gunzel Spaniel was keen to explore, but I thought it unwise, and instead I sent her off to KFC to get us both lunch. She likes chickens....

So I must apologise for the shortage of still shots, however I hope the aerial footage gives a better idea of what the bridge now looks like. 

Wide shot of the bridge taken from the north west quadrant. Note the very secure and substantial fence, making trespass, and therefore exploration, very difficult.

A closer view, note the lush undergrowth, very long, wet, swampy and full of snakes. The Fonterra dairy factory can be seen in the background on the eastern side of the river.

And the video of the bridge. As always, it is best viewed full screen and in the highest resolution you can get to work. It has been uploaded in 4K.


  1. Shame about the deterioration in this bridge, presumably the middle was taken out to avoid the potential for obstruction from debris. Interesting to imagine if it was put to use again for a spur passenger service to Port Fairy, only a short extension from Warrnambool after all?

  2. I was told by the guy who lives near the bridge that the middle was taken out to stop people trying to cross over the bridge, that was before they put up the fence. However, I do think your debris theory is closer to the truth. There is a lot of land that has been re-purposed along the way to Port Fairy.

    1. Terrible shame when Crown land is sold off in that way, precludes other uses for the R.O.W. in the future.

  3. My understanding is that the middle section of the bridge was removed to clear the river for canoeists and kayakers. It is a definite shame that this bridge wasn't incorporated into the W'bool-Port Fairy rail trail.

  4. Yes, that is another very possible reason for removal of the centre section, although I would have thought canoeists could easily get through between the spans.