Finding the Maldon – Dombarton bridge to nowhere

South of Sydney there is a bridge to nowhere, built in the 1980s as part of the never-completed Maldon – Dombarton railway line. Intended to cross the Nepean River near the township of Maldon, only the approach spans on each side of the gorge were built before the project was cancelled, where they remain today. So how did I go about seeing the bridge for myself?

Bridge to nowhere

I started my hike from Picton Road, where I parked the car and loaded up my backpack with water and snacks, before wandering off into the dense bush.

Walking through the bush from Picton Road to find the bridge

After walking down into a gully then back out again, I found myself in a clearing.

After walking through the bush, I'm out in a clearing

There wasn’t any sign of the bridge at this point.

Walking around the open plains towards the bridge

But I kept on wandering around.

Walking around the open plains towards the bridge

And I eventually found a metal stanchion on the unfinished bridge sticking up above the tree line.

Stanchion on the unfinished bridge sticks up above the trees

With my target in sight and the sun starting to go down, it was time to head back into the bush.

Back into the bush again to find the bridge

Eventually I came out into another clearing, but this time the metal stanchions were larger – I was on the right track.

Stanchion on the unfinished bridge sticks up above the trees

I kept walking in the same direction, and finally – I found the bridge!

Finally - I found the bridge!

The 30 year old concrete still looks to be in good condition.

30 year old concrete still in good nick

I headed up onto the bridge, and walked towards the dead end.

Looking towards the dead end

Fences prevented me from walking off the end.

End of the line on the southern approach

Looking west from the bridge was another bridge – carrying Picton Road across the Nepean River.

Looking west towards Picton Road from the southern end of the bridge

And to the east was the advancing shadows of a setting sun.

Looking east from the southern end of the bridge

With the moon now visible, it was time to head out of the bush before darkness fell, and find my car again.

The moon comes out under the bridge

Footnote

Here is the GPS tracklog on my adventure to find the unfinished bridge – it took me 30 minutes to walk the ~1.5 kilometres between my car and the bridge, using a Google Maps printout and the setting sun as a guide, and with a lot of wandering around in order to pinpoint which direction I was supposed to be walking in.

GPS tracklog on my adventure to find the unfinished Maldon - Dombarton railway line bridge

Also of note is how closely my return journey matched my inward hike – my sense of direction must have been working well that day!

A check of Google Maps shows a supposed unnamed road that I didn’t use – leading from Picton Road to the bridge, it looks to be a dirt track that passes through a nearby skydiving centre, then follows the unfinished alignment of the railway.

A construction photo

From the Macarthur Chronicle Facebook page – an undated photo showing the southern end of the bridge under construction.

Further reading

Wikipedia has more on the history of the Maldon – Dombarton railway line.

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13 Responses to “Finding the Maldon – Dombarton bridge to nowhere”

  1. mich says:

    Has anybody seen the bridge ? Where’s that confounded bridge ?

  2. mich says:

    If you pay attention, you can see it from the train, which passes close by on the other bank of the river. The location of the triangular junction is quite obvious, and the bridge starts right beyond that. The largest standing section of the bridge is on the east bank where you were.

  3. Julian Calaby says:

    You can follow the proposed alignment all the way through the Upper Nepean State Conservation Area / Kembla State Forest (I assume that’s what the thick bush to the south east is called) all the way to one of the tunnel portals here:

    https://www.google.com.au/maps/@-34.4394009,150.7171221,415m/data=!3m1!1e3

    I can’t find the portal at the other end of the proposed tunnel (which was apparently constructed) or the alignment for where it would have connected with the line on the far side of Dombarton.

    Looking at the area in Google Maps, the nearest town (as the man walks, not the crow flies) appears to be Mount Kembla / Kembla Heights and the portal is about 8km hike down the fire roads from there.

  4. andrew waugh says:

    You’ve never done orienteering, have you? 🙂

  5. Paul O'Connor says:

    Marcus, that was one of the most fascinating relics I have ever seen in Australia. Some great pics to. I was wondering what the camping is like near the bridge.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      You’d have to bring your own water in, given that the river is at the bottom of the steep ravine. But I’m not sure how quiet the area would be, or who even owns it.

  6. Mark M says:

    As a local for 11 years, I believe the land is owned by a corporation known as Bradcorp. There are currently mining leases all around this site. As soon as the leases have expired, this land is to be subdivided into housing estates. This applies to both sides of Picton Rd.

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