||The first inhabitants of the Monaro highlands were the Ngarigo people, visited by many other groups during the Bogong season. European settlers understood the Ngarigo word 'Monaro' to mean woman's breasts. White settlement of the area began in the mid to late 1820s, with Richard Brooks establishing grazing runs to the north east of Berridale around 1827. By the late 1830s most of the Monaro highland region was occupied by squatting runs, supporting both cattle and sheep. From the 1860s until 1957 the practice of transhumance grazing characterised the region, whereby stock were moved to the alpine pastures in summer and then back to the valleys in autumn, thus increasing the carrying capacity of the stations. Alpine leases were abolished in 1957 due to recognition that damage was being done to the delicate alpine environment. (Regional Histories, 1996, pp. 116-125) A sign adjacent to the creek states that the creek was named in tribute to the prospectors who searched the mountains for gold deposits through the latter part of the nineteenth century.
The construction of the bridge over Diggers Creek in 1937 was associated both with the far-reaching road reconstruction programmes undertaken by the Department of Main Roads through the 1930s, and demand for access to the mountains by the growing numbers of skiers and hikers. The road between Cooma and Jindabyne, now known as The Summit Road, had most likely developed as a rough track for communication and movement of stock and supplies by the mid nineteenth century. The first water-powered flourmill in the district was built at Jindabyne in 1847 and a track between this settlement and the nascent Cooma, officially surveyed in 1849, would have been necessary. The road later gained importance as an access route to the snowfields. The first skiing activities were based at Kiandra from the 1860s. Hotel Kosciusko, on the Summit Road, opened in 1909 but developed slowly until the 1930s when Austrian ski instructors came to Australia and the first ski tow was erected at Charlotte Pass. (Regional Histories, 1996, pp. 116-125) The Diggers Creek crossing is adjacent to the original site of the Hotel Kosciusko, in operation between 1909 and 1951, when it burnt down. Today the bridge is adjacent to the Sponars Hotel, probably the staff quarters of the original hotel. (website of the Kosciusko Alpine Club and the SASC) The Summit Road and nearby roads, which provided access to the snowfields via Cooma from the north, south and east were improved to facilitate access to the snowfields. The Monaro Highway (as the Snowy Mountains Highway was initially known) was proclaimed in 1927 and subsequently upgraded and improvements were also carried out on the Canberra-Cooma road (the present Monaro Highway). (DMR, 1976, pp. 138-151, 162-3). The Summit Road originally provided public vehicular access to the summit of Mount Kosciusko, but has now been closed to vehicular traffic above Charlotte Pass, providing walking access to the summit. The road west of Jindabyne was substantially improved in 1935 with the construction of three concrete slab bridges over Spencers Creek, Guthries Creek and Betts Creek, by contractor, Mr W. D. MacDonald of Canberra. These three bridges replaced open crossings, which almost always had water flowing over them, and often enough to hold up traffic. A media release in June 1935 announced the completion of the three slab bridges and encouraged motorists to visit the Hotel Kosciusko, as the road was now of good quality most of the way from Cooma, and a snow plough would be used when necessary to keep the road open. (Roads and Maritime Services File 119.112)
The construction of the single span reinforced concrete beam bridge over Diggers Creek in 1937, to replace a deteriorating timber structure, further improved the road. The Diggers Creek was one of more than 1,000 bridges built, or under construction, by the department of Main Roads between 1925 and 1940, a period in which the Department's engineers were adapting existing standards of bridge design to meet the requirements of improved motor vehicle performance. They were generally wider than previously with an improved load capacity, and, as the Diggers Creek Bridge was, built on an improved alignment, designed with an awareness of the requirements of motor traffic. (Roads and Maritime Services File: 119.154) The principal types of bridges constructed during the period were: reinforced concrete beam; concrete slab; steel truss on concrete piers; and timber beam bridges. Concrete was favoured in many instances because it was perceived to be a low maintenance material (DMR, 1976, pp.169, 170). Based on Roads and Maritime Services bridge database records, reinforced concrete beam or girder bridges were the most common form of concrete bridge construction to 1948, with more than 160 extant. They have been very popular in NSW, and elsewhere, providing an efficient and often aesthetically pleasing solution to a wide range of crossing types. Within the general group of beam bridges, the main longitudinal members have had various configurations ranging from a simple set of rectangular beams cast integrally with the deck, through beams with curved soffits, to flat soffit decks where the edge beams also form the bridge parapet or sidewall. These bridges on the state's main roads and highways, constructed to replace high-maintenance and aged timber bridges or open crossings, along with other road improvements, ushered in the age of comfortable motor transport and efficient road transport of goods and produce to which we are accustomed today.
The current Diggers Creek Bridge replaced a timber bridge which was noted in 1934 to be in poor condition and not suitable for the heavy weights of the traffic it was required to carry, which included the Hotel Kosciusko lorry, weighing 4 tons, and in the winter, a great number of heavily laden tourist buses. Extreme weather conditions necessitated temporary repairs to the timber bridge in autumn 1935, as the concrete for a new structure could not be poured in the impending winter. The site allowed the bridge's foundations to rest on granite a short distance below the ground surface. Like the neighbouring bridges over Spencers, Guthries and Betts Creeks, the bridge was built at least partly with gravel from the bed of the Snowy River, and local sand, probably sourced from Spencers Creek. The bridge was designed keeping in mind the importance of the scenic qualities of its setting: "A single span frame with curved haunches could be made quite attractive in appearance and this is desirable at a site which is purely a tourist resort". (Roads and Maritime Services File: 119.154, Bridge Engineer's Minute 1st October 1935) The bridge was constructed by contractor Mr C Tobler between January and May 1937. (Roads and Maritime Services File: 119.154) It is possible that road alignment was improved, the creek diverted slightly to allow a better positioning of the bridge within the roadway and a small cutting made into the hill on the Jindabyne side of the bridge. (Roads and Maritime Services File: 119.154)
The first inspection report, of December 1937 noted that the concrete for the bridge had been poured in very cold weather and that subsequent frosts would render repairs to the concrete, particularly of the kerbs necessary shortly. (Roads and Maritime Services File: 119.154)
In 1977 the pipe handrailings were damaged by a motor vehicle accident and, since the kerbs were in poor condition, it was proposed to replace the whole superstructure. (Roads and Maritime Services File: 119.1141)