Name of Item Deadmans Creek Bridge
Item Number 4309505
Type of Item Built
Item Sub-Type Pre-1948 Concrete Slab and Arch Bridges
Address **** Heathcote Road Sandy Point 2171
Local Government Area Liverpool City 
Owner Roads and Maritime Services
Current Use Road bridge
Former Use Road bridge


Statement of significance

Statement of significance This bridge is a component of infrastructure built to facilitate the military presence at Holsworthy Army Base during WWII. It demonstrates both the design and construction developments of the 1930s as well as aspects of the changing relationship between road and bridge construction of the 1940s and 1950s. It also demonstrates the key characteristics of concrete slab road bridges of the 1930s and 1940s, and with the Heathcote Road and the nearby bridge over Williams Creek, the subject bridge constitutes a significant part of the strategic defence works undertaken in Sydney in WWII.

The bridge has been assessed as being of Local significance.

Date Significance Updated 22 October 2003



Designer Department of Main Roads
Builder Robert Fretus, contractor
Construction years 1942 - 1942
Physical description This two lane, 6 span, simply supported reinforced concrete bridge spans a tidal creek. Total length of the bridge is 37.1 m, and its width is 6.7 m. The abutments are stone faced spill through type, and the piers have three driven piles each, connected by headstocks. The deck and piers are skewed and the bridge plan follows the road curvature. The reinforced concrete bridge railings and endposts appear to be original despite being close to the traffic lanes, displaying some cracks, presumably as a result of impacts.
Physical Condition
Archaeological Potential
Original condition assessment: 'The bridge appears to be in good condition. Concrete above deck level has been repaired and painted white. Some abutment settlement is evident although this now appears static.' (Last updated: 31/07/2003.) 2007-08 condition update: 'Good.' (Last updated: 17/4/09.)
Modifications and dates File recommendations that the bridge railings be replaced with ones having higher strength have not been enacted.
Date condition updated 17 April 2009



Historical notes The bridge over Deadmans Creek shares its history with the nearby bridge over Williams Creek. The bridges were built in conjunction with the construction of Heathcote Road (then IlIawarra Road) primarily for military use between 1940 and 1943. It is clear however that the route, or at least sections of it, existed in some form prior to 1940. In the early 1900s many of the roads around Liverpool (many hastily laid down by subdividers in the 1880s) were in appalling condition. The revenue from rates was far too small for Council to maintain them and Government grants for road works were based on the rateable values in the area, rather than on their condition or length. Those who used the roads were asked to help pay for their upkeep. In 1916, for example, with the Illawarra (now Heathcote) Road in a bad condition Council received payment from 16 licensed drivers for repair work. (Keating, 1996, p.131.) During the Depression years of the 1930s relief work schemes were instituted in Liverpool. One recollection is of men surfacing Heathcote Road (then called Illawarra Road) with bitumen as far as the "old German Camp" using horses and drays from the Remount Depot. All the forming was done with pick and shovel. (Keating, 1996, p.163.) The army has maintained a significant presence at Holsworthy since the visit of Lord Kitchener in January 1910, when he witnessed the manoeuvres of 6,000 infantry and light horse soldiers. As a consequence of his visit 883 acres of land were acquired in 1912 with which to establish a Remount Depot and Veterinary Hospital. In 1913 a further 16,868 acres were resumed for what is now known as the 'Old Holsworthy Camp'. 110 targets for the Anzac Rifle Range were established on part of the resumed land in 1916. Training the light horse regiments was the major task at the Liverpool Camp and new recruits were encamped in long lines of canvas tents on the eastern bank of the Georges River. The Remount Depot was situated east of the Rifle Range. With the outbreak of World War I the 3rd Light Horse Brigade was transferred to the Camp. Next the 4th Infantry Brigade and the 6th and 7th Light Horse regiments, and others, were installed at Holsworthy. (Keating, 1996, pp.146, 147.) A German Concentration Camp was also established there. The ongoing use of the road for military purposes at this time and again during World War II necessitated the need for improved transport routes. As Australia was drawn into World War II, strategic roads became a significant element in national defence. In New South Wales of immediate concern was the fact that Sydney was partially surrounded by water and consequently was vulnerable to the destruction of bridges. The bridge over the Hawkesbury River, a major link with Newcastle, was a significant example of this vulnerability. So roads radiating from Sydney needed strengthening, more circumferential link roads were a necessity, and an alterative route to Newcastle - the chief armoury and base of heavy industries - needed thought. Money was available from the Unemployment Relief and Loan Funds, and special Commonwealth funding for works of defence value. Consequently during 1940 and 1941 roads were built for the ease of movement of troops and defence supplies, to provide access to and within military camps and other defence establishments, and to munitions factories. (DMR, 1976, p.172.) The road from Liverpool to the Princes Highway at Heathcote (Main Road No. 512) was planned to provide a better cross-country connection through Holsworthy. Previously the route had been via the Menai bridge over the Woronora River. (DMR, 1976, p.172.) The function of the road was emphasised when the Contractor was reminded that Main Road No. 512 - and consequently the bridges - was being built as an urgent defence work. (Roads and Maritime Services File 259.1932.) The continuous use of the road by people and vehicles travelling to and from the army camps resulted in the then Illawarra Road being dubbed the 'Army road'. (Keating, 1996, pp. 150, 178, 179.)The bridge over Deadmans Creek at Sandy Point was constructed in 1942, described as 6/20' RC beams 121.8' long, 22' K/K. In the previous year, the Contractor, Robert Fretus, had been the successful tenderer for the nearby bridge over Williams Creek, also on Heathcote Road. (Roads and Maritime Services File 411.1807.) The period 1925-1940 was one over which the Department of Main Roads (DMR) made considerable ground in adapting existing standards of bridge design to meet the requirements of motor vehicle traffic - bridges built in the period were generally wider than previously with an improved load capacity. Generally, new standards were set in terms of road design and safety. Reinforced concrete had found a prominent place in the bridging of minor waterways, in particular in the modest and easily built concrete slab and beam designs, the material favoured in many instances because it was perceived as relatively low-maintenance. (DMR, 1976, pp.169, 170.) The subject bridge is of the former type. The building of the bridge on a combination of curve and skew was indicative of the changing emphasis wherein the bridge was becoming subservient to the road alignment rather than the other way around. Severe scouring of the creek banks had occurred during floods in 1942, and affected the construction of the bridge abutments. The abutments were designed as "tipped stone filling with a stone pitched face". The filling extended into the creek bed, and more than 100 cubic yards of stone was required to fill holes scoured well under the toe of the abutment. The pitching, however, was to be held over for at least two winters to enable any settlement to take place. When the situation was reviewed in 1943, the stone filling was in good condition and, as there was a shortage of labour, it was recommended that nothing be done until the end of the war. In 1946 it was reported that for the stone pitching to be effective, it would need to be set in cement mortar, as this would be costly, nothing was done, especially as the filling was not unsightly. (Roads and Maritime Services File 411.1807.) An application to dredge sand from Deadmans Creek was made to the Council of the Shire of Sutherland in late 1961/early 1962. It was recommended that this not be allowed because of the proximity of the bridge and its piles in the sand and the possibility of undermining the bridge foundations, and because of the number of children who swam there. (Roads and Maritime Services File 411.1807.)The name 'Deadmans Creek' had been in use since 1837 and was identified by that name on military maps and in street directories. Consequently the Liverpool and District Historical Society complained when a new signpost identified it as 'Tudera Creek'. The name 'Tudera Creek' had been adopted at the request of Sutherland Shire Council and the Sandy Point Progress Association. The Geographical Names Board within the Department of Lands requested the DMR to consider reverting to 'Deadmans Creek' and evidently this was done. (Roads and Maritime Services File 411.1807.)



Heritage Listing Reference Number Gazette Number Gazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register       


Assessment of Significance

Historical Significance The bridge has historical significance, together with the nearby bridge over Williams Creek and contemporary infrastructure works in the Holsworthy area, as infrastructure associated with the military presence at Holsworthy Army Base during WWII and the development of local transport infrastructure. It is linked with the local historical theme of engineering and building the road system. It physically embodies the contemporary design and construction techniques of its era, which had been conscientiously developed through the previous decade and continued to develop as the requirements of motor traffic became more demanding, and as the technologies involved progressed.
Historical Association ****
Aesthetic/Technical Significance Although the bridge is on a curve and skew, and has chamfered cantilevers on the headstocks, it remains a simple utilitarian structure with little opportunity for the public to view its features apart from the intact railings (which are under threat due to their inferior impact resistance).
Social Significance ****
Research Significance The bridge demonstrates changes in the relationship of road building and bridge building. In this case the bridge is skewed and curved to fit the curve of the road and the line of the creek, whereas bridges built in earlier decades were straight, with the road aligning to the bridge. The flexibility of this simple slab bridge design enables this.
Rarity ****
Representativenes Demonstrates the key characteristics of concrete slab road bridges of this era. Is also representative of the functional and simple slab design that had been developed extensively in the immediate pre-war period and was particularly appropriate in the early 1940s when economy and functionality were priorities of the emergency situation.
Integrity/Intactness Substantially Intact.
Assessed Significance Local




Type Author Year Title
Written  Keating. Christopher  1996  On the Frontier. 
Written  Department of Main Roads, New South Wales, (DMR).  1976  The Roadmakers. 
Written  Roads and Maritime Services, (Roads and Maritime Services ).    General File 411.1807. 


Study details

Title Year Author Inspected by Guidelines used
Pre-1948 Roads and Maritime Services Controlled Concrete Slab and Concrete Arch Bridges in NSW  2004  Burns and Roe Worley and Heritage Assessment And History (HAAH)    Yes 


Custom fields

Roads and Maritime Services Region Sydney
Bridge Number 153
CARMS File Number ****
Property Number Bridge
Conservation Management Plan ****



Oblique view looking south
Oblique view looking south