The area north of the township was deemed for farming & then later acquired by the Commonwealth for the filling of ammunition by the ADI, necessary for the war effort as Australia was engaged in battles in Africa & Malaya, hence the need for supplies to be maintained. The remains of what was the Beecroft Butchery & sale yards are still visible thou overgrown near the start of Ropes Crossing Boulevard.
The area around St Marys was chosen as the land was cheap, sparsely populated, had good access to rail & road transport along with a big supply of workers from the Parramatta area.
This ADI site was subject to 3 distinct time frames in its development & were listed as 1. 1941-1946 St Marys Munitions Filling Factory established for an area extending 4.8 kms from just north of the station & 6.7kms wide. The work involved constructing 850 new buildings & a rail line to service these. Much of this area is now the Dunheved Business Park. Lots of housing was also built nearby for the factory workers & their families.
The Next stage was 1954-1995 which saw the area extended by acquiring the rural land north of Forrester Road for the ST Marys Munitions Filling No 2 site with the area being fenced off & a security gate house near the entrance to what is now the suburb of Ropes Crossing being built to maintain the tight security needed for a military establishment, where Forrester Road turns right. This has since been removed & nothing remains.
Finally stage 3 in 1995 which saw Lend Lease purchase the disused site for a reported $190 mill and rezoned for residential along with other proposed development.
Three train stations & duel standard gauge rail lines were constructed branching off the main western line just west of St Marys, during the site’s history with the first being Dunheved, the remains of which are still visible thou badly overgrown behind ADG Welding supplies on Christie St along with the pedestrian bridge over the lines to the factories on the over side. This station also had 4 rail storage sidings next to it.
The line was extended to service the newly acquired area with a further 2 stations of Cochrane (which was demolished after the site closed) & Ropes Creek being constructed. The latter is still visible with the platform having been restored along with the original framework for the pedestrian over bridge & some of the original track made into a commemorative park in 2014 & can be visited from the end of Ropes Crossing Boulevard. The area also featured a network of smaller gauge lines to service the many factory units within the complex, most having been removed with only small sections still in place along with cuttings through hillside for the tracks, being the only reminder of what was there.
The old ADI site has changed dramatically with all but a few of the original buildings remaining and is now the residential suburbs of Ropes Crossing & Jordan Springs. The original 3 story admin centre remains in Seymour Street, after being heavily vandalised then reconstructed as part of a new development, along with the original fire station, the tower nearby was used to dry the hoses & an ambulance station, both opposite the admin centre.
A sizable part of the original site was put aside as the Wianamatta Regional Park, which features the remnants of the Cumberland Plane Woodland, home to many native animals & birds. We have regularly seen large kangaroos & emus there. The park is accessible from Mainwaring Street & features a few of the old buildings along with great picnic & BBQ facilities. A note here is that there is no direct vehicular access to the public into the park apart from the small car park near the entrance, so everything for your picnic must be walked in. There is a grid of intersecting wide roads suitable for cycling within the park & because there are no cars, makes it perfectly safe for children to ride in safety. At present there is no shop within the park but Ropes Crossing shopping centre is only a short distance away.
Here are some links for some great videos on the area.
Dunheved rail line from St Marys view from drivers cabin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQC2A-faLpA
Munitions factory's history: http://bit.ly/2mHDxuw