||Kings Falls Bridge crosses the Georges River on the Bulli-Appin Road, just outside Appin, about fourteen kilometres south of Campbelltown. The area was once the territory of the Dharawal Aboriginal people whose region extended from Botany Bay to the Shoalhaven River and inland as far as Camden. The Georges River and its tributaries provided water, food and shelter. After stray cattle from Sydney wandered away from the settlement at Sydney Cove, to be found in 1794 in the Menangle-Camden area, authorities banned unauthorised travel to the area, named the Cow Pastures, to protect the small but wild herd. John Macarthur and his partner, Walter Davidson, were the first Europeans to bypass the embargo and obtain grants of 5,000 acres and 2,000 acres for sheep breeding. Another early settler was Hamilton Hume, who settled at Appin in 1812. Land in the Minto, Airds and Appin district was good for agriculture as well as pastoralism, and by 1813 a sizeable farming community existed in these districts. Intensification of white settlement brought conflict with Aboriginal inhabitants, and a series of attacks against both Europeans and Aborigines culminated the Appin Massacre of April 1816, when soldiers and locals opened fire on an Aboriginal camp and drove others over cliffs, written records attesting to the deaths of fourteen people. The massacre is traditionally remembered as the annihilation of the Aboriginal people of Campbelltown, however, Dharawal continued to live in the Cowpastures until the mid-1840s, sometimes working with Europeans on farms. (HAAH, 1998, pp. 4-7; Liston, 1988, pp. 23-26)
Wheat farming and flour milling were the main local industries from the mid-1820s until the 1870s, giving way to dairying by the 1890s. Dairying and its related services remained the largest employer in the region well into the twentieth century, declining in the 1960s when farms were sold for residential development. (HAAH, 1998, p.10; Liston, 1988, pp.183, 217)
Roads in the district developed from cattle routes, but by February 1814 the road from Sydney to Liverpool had been completed and was later extended to Appin (Appin Road), though it was little more than a dirt track; and in the 1820s it was maintained by convict road gangs. A combination of cattle and cedar-getters' tracks remained the only land route to the Illawarra coastal flats until 1821 when Cornelius O'Brien, a settler of the Bulli district discovered a shorter and less steep route that would be suitable for a cattle road from the Illawarra to the district of Appin; the road was operating by 1822. In the early 1830s, Surveyor-General Mitchell proposed that a road be constructed from Appin into the Illawarra district to provide a general line of communication to the coast as soon as possible. In late 1834 Mitchell commenced work on the new route which passed from Appin through Broughton's Pass to the top of Mount Keira and continued to connect up with O'Brien's Road. By 1836 the new road was wide enough for a carriage, but only horses could complete the journey as a creek on the way to Appin remained impassable without a bridge. A new pass down the coastal escarpment was discovered in 1836 by Captain R. M. Westmacott and this route became known as Bulli Pass. The road from Appin to the Illawarra over the once impassable Bulli Mountain opened in 1838, increasing traffic via Appin and Campbelltown and it was proposed to run a mail coach on this route. Coach services remained the only form of public transport between Appin and the Illawarra until the railway from Sutherland to Wollongong was completed in 1887. (Liston, 1988, pp. 7, 53-55, 86; DMR, 1976, pp. 17-18, 34-35)
The bridge over the Georges River at Kings Falls replaced a timber bridge, probably dating from the late nineteenth century. Timber bridges of various types predominated from the mid-nineteenth century until the 1930s due to the availability and dependability of Australian hardwoods, particularly ironbark. Following the introduction of a system of Federal aid for road development and the establishment of the Main Roads Board in 1925, improvements were carried out on the State's major roads, a process which also necessitated the replacement of bridges, which by that time were inadequate. (DMR, 1976, p. 55, 88-89) In 1927 the Board was asked to consider constructing a concrete bridge at King's Falls in view of the great improvement to the road from Campbelltown to Bulli and the inadequacy of the existing timber bridge. The new bridge was to be built alongside the old timber one. When a large lorry fell through the deck of the old bridge in July 1927, construction of a new one became urgent. Mr F. Delattore's tender for the bridge and approaches for just over 4,000 pounds was accepted in May 1929 and the bridge was completed by February 1930. (Roads and Maritime Services (replacing Roads and Traffic Authority) File: 496.1301)
Coal mining was another major industry in the district that developed later in the twentieth century. Coal deposits were found south of Campbelltown in the nineteenth century, but while the Illawarra coalfields were developed from the 1850s, the inland fields of the Wollondilly district were not opened until the 1930s and mines were expanded after World War II. With the expansion of the Appin mines and changing economies in the industry during the mid-1970s, coal was increasingly trucked by road to the Port Kembla coal-loader, built in 1964. By the 1970s the Appin-Bulli Road was used heavily by coal haulage vehicles and the King's Falls Bridge is situated near a junction with the road to Appin Colliery. (Liston, 1988, p. 218; Roads and Maritime Services (replacing Roads and Traffic Authority) File: 496.1301)
In the mid-1960s preliminary investigations were made into the widening of the pavement and improvement of approaches to the King's Falls Bridge. In 1969 a large earthmoving machine hit the Wollongong end of the bridge and the downstream side end post, cracking it and causing it to shift laterally. The abutment wing wall was also affected. An inspection revealed that there appeared to be no steel reinforcement in the concrete, so instead of extensive repairs it was recommended that the bridge be widened on the downstream side. In 1972 the handrails and endposts were replaced with corrugated steel guardrails. (Roads and Maritime Services (replacing Roads and Traffic Authority) File: 496.1301)
In the early 1970s extensive realignment of a section of the Appin-Bulli Road was planned to eliminate a crest curve combination east of Appin. The western approach to the bridge was reconstructed in 1973, and in 1975 the eastern approach was under construction. Both approaches involved steep grades and, as the coal haulage vehicles tended to increase speed on the downgrades to overcome the loss of speed on the steep upgrades, the existing width of 20 feet between kerbs was considered dangerous as vehicles travelling at high speeds risked colliding with oncoming traffic. It was recommended, therefore, that the bridge be widened to 28 feet between kerbs on the downstream (northern) side to utilise the widened pavement on the northern side of the road and to provide two continuous lanes for east bound traffic. The bridge was widened by 6.4m by Wollondilly Shire Council at a cost of approximately $151,000, and it was re-opened to traffic in December 1981.