Chinaman's Bridge is of State, and probably of National, historical and architectural significance. Opened in 1891, it is one of Victoria's oldest surviving timber road bridges, and one of very few surviving examples built prior to 1901. It is the third longest all-timber road bridge remaining in Victoria.
It is the most intact of only two extant examples of the colonial Victorian "strut-and-straining-piece" type of bridge derived from a traditional European design. It also retains substantial vestiges of a unique timber lift-span constructed to accommodate river-boat traffic between Seymour and Nagambie. When built in the late nineteenth century, it was one of a number of large "strutted-stringer" river bridges in Victoria, but was then set apart by its unique timber lift span. In New South Wales, such a timber river bridge over a large and flood-prone stream would have been built with lengthy timber trusses, but the "strutted-stringer" type was often prefered in Victoria. Chinaman's Bridge is a late example of the squared-timber strutted-stringer road-bridge, the design having been widely used in Victorian road-bridge construction prior to the severe economic depression of the 1890s. It has potential to provide further information regarding early construction techniques.
This bridge takes its name from the Chinese market gardeners who once exploited the rich soils of the Goulburn River floodplain to supply vegetables to surrounding settlements. It adds great aesthetic charm to this impressive riverland landscape, especially when viewed by passing motorists from the modern concrete bridge over the Goulburn River, just upstream. It is situated in popular tourist and fishing country, close to the historic Chateau Tahbilk vineyard and winery, in an area with much potential for recreational development and cultural interpretation. It is one of four large timber bridges from the early 1890s, of varying types, located on the Goulburn River between Seymour and Murchison.