The oldest surviving Swing Bridge in Australia is only 4.5 km from the Port of Sale in Victoria, Australia and makes a great picnic spot with a slice of Australian history. It’s easy to drive and park at the bridge. Or exercise the legs and use the scenic bike and walking track that follows the Thomson River from the Port of Sale.

The Swing Bridge in regular position.

Looking from beneath the Swing Bridge when open. 

History of the Swing Bridge

Built in 1883 by the Victorian Government, the Swing Bridge was the first movable bridge in Victoria. Prior to this, a punt had been used which was replaced with a wooden bridge. However, this was not a suitable height to allow vessels to pass.

A job that no longer exists is the Bridge Keeper who was on call 24hr/day to manually open the bridge as needed. Now, a generator is used to open the bridge at scheduled times to allow boats into the Port of Sale. Missing the scheduled time results in paying a hefty fee to have the bridge opened!

The bridge was designed by John Grainger who was also the engineer for the Sale Water Tower and Princes Bridge in Melbourne amongst other achievements. The historical and engineering significance of the Swing Bridge has been recognised by the Heritage Council of Victoria and is included in the Engineering Heritage Register by Engineers Australia.

A summary of restoration works is provided on the Sale Community website.

Swing Bridge gears.

Beneath the Swing Bridge.


Wonderfully, there is no admission fee for visiting the historic bridge.

Getting There

The Swing Bridge is a short (~5 minute) drive from the Sale township along the South Gippsland Highway. Don’t worry if you miss the first entrance, there are two roads into the bridge and you can park on either side.

An alternative to driving is to ride or walk the 4.7km from the Port of Sale to the Swing Bridge following the Thomson River. The track is well constructed and sign-posted.

When to Visit

The Swing Bridge can be viewed at any time. However there are set times for when the bridge is opened which is worth seeing!


Scheduled opening times for the swing bridge at the time of publication were:

Saturdays and Sundays: Between 3.00pm and 4.00pm

Second Wednesday of every month: Between 11.00am and 12.00pm

Extend your visit

Combine a visit to the Sale Historic Swing Bridge with:

Looking for more activities in Sale? Head to the Central Gippsland tourist website.

EXPLORE | Check out the Gippsland destination page for more travel ideas in this beautiful regions such as Tarra Bulga National Park and searching for shipwrecks along the coast.

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