The Steps To Nowhere

Location: Hickson Road, Millers Point
High above street level and clinging to the rockface that lines Hickson Road around Millers Point is a sequence of stairs to nowhere, with the entrance and exit long bricked-up. There's no way in, there's no way out. It just sits there embedded in the sandstone. The base is totally bricked-in, ensuring no-one can climb into the section in the middle, which presumably would've taken too much brick to warrant fully enclosing.

Hickson Road was cut out of the sandstone of Millers Point to provide a link between the wharves on Walsh Bay and those being built at Darling Harbour. It required the excavation and creation of a sheer cliff face which curves right round the contours of Millers Point, all the way to the Harbour Bridge. The stairs cling to this extraordinary sandstone wall and lead up towards the deck of one of a number of bridges built across Hickson Road. A photo taken in 1911 (photo right) shows the wall and the bridge after it was built. The cavity in the sandstone cliff face where the steps would be added later is clearly visible. The bridge was widened in the 1950s (photo below), and by comparing the two photographs, it is clear that the cavity for the stairs has been widened, perhaps because the original cavity would have made the stairs too steep to climb.

Looking at the current photographs of the steps (above), it can be seen that part of the rock face beyond the cavity above the bricked-in area has a cut line, but the rock below the line has not all been removed. This, and the steps falling short of the roadway above, indicates that the project was abandoned midway through. Perhaps the rock beyond the cavity was found to be unstable, leading to the stairs being abandoned totally before the modifications had been completed.

In 2010, someone with a sense of humour plants a few palms on the abandoned steps, strung up rope in the shape of a spider's web and placed a big black spider on it. A hand painted sign read "Guerilla Gardens".



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