Artist Shaun Kirby, who created the work alongside Alex Gillespie, said "the memorial was designed to recognise convicts in the Road Party 14, based close to Five Dock". But it also recognises the 5,000 convicts who built the entire stretch of road.
The artwork was forged from sandstone sourced in the Blue Mountains and the five bronze "wedges", represent the pickaxes used to build the road.
The road was built as the government wanted a road connecting to the northern settlements. Before the road was built the only way to travel between Sydney and the Hunter had been by sea, which was not affordable to most. Settlers began petitioning the government for a secure overland route to travel on.
The road was built by over 5,000 convicts between 1826 and 1836, starting from Parramatta Road at Five Dock making its way to Abbotsford Point then onto Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. The backbreaking construction work was completed almost entirely by hand with some dynamite used to break through rocky outcrops north of Sydney.
Take a close look at the five wedges on the memorial and you will see listed the names of the convicts of Road Party 14 who worked on the road in the area.
Much of this road is still in use today, although tarred and guttered to modern standards. So next time you travel the Great North Road, remember the blood and sweat of those convicts who were made to built it and see the many reminders of their work still exist today.