Highway 1 (Australia)

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Highway 1

Australian national route 1.svg   Australian national highway 1.svg  
AUS Alphanumeric Route M1.svg   AUS Alphanumeric Route A1.svg AUS Alphanumeric Route B1.svg   AUS Alphanumeric Route R1.svg
Highway 1 (Australia) map.png
Map of Highway 1, which is a ring road around Australia. A separate section in Tasmania connects Hobart to Burnie.
General information
Type Highway
Length14,500 km (9,010 mi)
HistoryHighway 1 was established in 1955
Highway system

Australia 's Highway 1 is a network of highways that circumnavigate the country, joining all mainland state capitals and Darwin. At a total length of approximately 14,500 km (9,000 mi) it is the longest national highway in the world, surpassing the Trans-Siberian Highway (over 11,000 km or 6,800 mi) and the Trans-Canada Highway (8,030 km or 4,990 mi). A part of the highway network is traversed by over a million people every day. [1]



Highway 1 was created as part of the National Route Numbering system, adopted in 1955. [2] The route was compiled from an existing network of state and local roads and tracks. [2] Highway 1 is the only route to reach across all Australian states, plus the Northern Territory. Many of the other national routes are tributaries of Highway 1.

Under the original Highway 1 scheme, certain major traffic routes that ran parallel to the main route were designated National Route Alternative 1. Most of these route designations have been replaced by either a state route designation, or an alpha-numeric route designation, depending on which state the section is in. An example of the Alternative 1 designation remaining is on the old Princes Highway route from Dandenong to South Melbourne in Victoria.

Route markers

The entirety of Highway 1 was originally marked with a National Route 1 shield (black number on a white shield). In 1974, the segments of the route that were declared part of the National Highway network were updated to use the National Highway shield (gold number on a green shield). [3]

Since that time, all states and territories except for Western Australia have adopted (or are in the process of adopting) alphanumeric route numbers. As a consequence, much of Highway 1 is now marked with a M1, A1 or B1 route marker (depending on the route's quality and importance). A notable exception is in Tasmania, which was the first state to adopt alphanumeric route numbers but Highway 1 is still marked with a National Highway 1 shield.

In South Australia, sections of Highway 1 which were once part of the National Highway are marked as A1 or M1 but retain the National Highway "shield".


Princes Highway, which is part of the Highway 1 network, at Moruya, New South Wales PrincesHighwayMoruya.jpg
Princes Highway, which is part of the Highway 1 network, at Moruya, New South Wales

From Sydney, it heads southwards to Melbourne via the Eastern Distributor, Southern Cross Drive, General Holmes Drive, The Grand Parade, President Avenue, Princes Highway (NSW), Princes Motorway, Princes Highway (VIC), Princes Freeway (east), Monash Freeway, and CityLink.

It then proceeds to Adelaide via the West Gate Freeway, Princes Freeway (west), Geelong Ring Road, and Princes Highway (SA).

From there it runs to Perth via Port Wakefield Road, Augusta Highway, Eyre Highway, Coolgardie-Esperance Highway, South Coast Highway and South Western Highway.

It then heads to Darwin via Brand Highway, North West Coastal Highway, Great Northern Highway, Victoria Highway, and Stuart Highway.

From Darwin, Highway 1 follows the Stuart Highway to Daly Waters, and thereafter the Carpentaria Highway to Borroloola. The Savannah Way is the largely unsignposted route for Highway 1 between the QLD/NT border, east of Borroloola, and Normanton, Queensland. From there, it follows the Gulf Developmental Road and Kennedy Highway to Cairns and southwards via the Bruce Highway to Brisbane.

It then returns to Sydney via the Pacific Motorway (QLD/NSW), Pacific Highway (NSW), Pacific Motorway (NSW), Pacific Highway (Sydney), Gore Hill Freeway, Warringah Freeway, Sydney Harbour Tunnel, and the Cahill Expressway.

In Tasmania it starts at the Brooker Highway in Hobart and heads towards Launceston via the Midland Highway. At Launceston it becomes the Bass Highway to Burnie. Highway 1 ends at Burnie; the Bass Highway continues to Marrawah on the west coast as Highway A2.

Large sections of Highway 1 are shared with the Australian National Highway, though the two are not synonymous. For instance, the Princes Highway from Sydney to Melbourne is part of Highway 1, but is not part of the National Highway, which follows the Hume Highway and Freeway.

Route markers

StateSegmentRoute markerRoad(s)See also
New South WalesQLD border to West Ballina AUS Alphanumeric Route M1.svg M1 Pacific Motorway (QLD/NSW) Highway 1 (New South Wales)
West Ballina to Newcastle AUS Alphanumeric Route A1.svg A1 Pacific Highway (NSW)
Newcastle to Wahroonga AUS Alphanumeric Route M1.svg M1 Pacific Motorway (NSW)
Wahroonga to Artarmon AUS Alphanumeric Route A1.svg A1 Pacific Highway (NSW)
Artarmon to Mascot AUS Alphanumeric Route M1.svg M1
Mascot to Waterfall AUS Alphanumeric Route A1.svg A1
Waterfall to Yallah AUS Alphanumeric Route M1.svg M1 Princes Motorway
Yallah to VIC borderAUS Alphanumeric Route A1.svg A1 Princes Highway (NSW)
VictoriaNSW border to Traralgon AUS Alphanumeric Route A1.svg A1 Princes Highway (VIC) Highway 1 (Victoria)
Traralgon to Winchelsea AUS Alphanumeric Route M1.svg M1
Winchelsea to SA borderAUS Alphanumeric Route A1.svg A1 Princes Highway (VIC)
South AustraliaVIC border to Tailem Bend AUS Alphanumeric Route B1.svg B1 Princes Highway (SA) Highway 1 (South Australia)
Tailem Bend to Murray Bridge Australian national highway A1.svg National Highway A1 Princes Highway (SA)
Murray Bridge to Glen Osmond Australian national highway M1.svg National Highway M1 South Eastern Freeway
Glen Osmond to Waterloo Corner AUS Alphanumeric Route A1.svg A1
Waterloo Corner to WA borderAustralian national highway A1.svg National Highway A1
Western AustraliaSA border to Norseman Australian national highway 1.svg National Highway 1 Eyre Highway Highway 1 (Western Australia)
Norseman to Port Hedland Australian national route 1.svg National Route 1
Port Hedland to NT borderAustralian national highway 1.svg National Highway 1
Northern TerritoryWA border to Katherine Australian national highway 1.svg National Highway 1 Victoria Highway Highway 1 (Northern Territory)
Katherine to Daly Waters Australian national highway 1.svg National Highway 1 Stuart Highway
Daly Waters to QLD borderAustralian national route 1.svg National Route 1
QueenslandNT border to Cairns Australian national route 1.svg National Route 1 Highway 1 (Queensland)
Cairns to Kybong AUS Alphanumeric Route A1.svg A1 Bruce Highway
Kybong to NSW borderAUS Alphanumeric Route M1.svg M1
TasmaniaEntire RouteAustralian national highway 1.svg National Highway 1 Highway 1 (Tasmania)

The Savannah Way section

The 715 km (444 mi) section from the eastern end of the Carpentaria Highway at Borroloola in the Northern Territory to the western end of the Gulf Developmental Road near Normanton in Queensland is part of the Savannah Way but has no highway name/s. Wollogorang Road runs from Borroloola to the NT/QLD border, and Westmoreland Road runs from there to Doomadgee. From there Doomadgee Road runs to Burketown, and Nardoo Burketown Road then runs to the Leichhardt River. Burketown Normanton Road runs from the river to the Burke Developmental Road near Normanton. National Highway 1 follows this south for 1.8 km (1.1 mi) to the Gulf Developmental Road.

Road conditions

With such a vast length, road conditions vary greatly; [4] from multi-lane freeways in populous urban and rural areas, to sealed two-laners in remote areas, such as the Nullarbor Plain, to single lane roads, such as in northern Queensland.

Some stretches are very isolated, such as the Eyre Highway, which crosses the Nullarbor Plain, and the Great Northern Highway, which runs close to the north-western coastline. Isolated roadhouses serving the small amount of passing traffic are often the only signs of human activity for hundreds of kilometres.

Highway 1 has been described as a "death trap", [4] particularly two-lane sections in northern Queensland, due to driver fatigue. [4] The vast distances between destinations and limited rest areas, especially those suitable to trucks, contribute to the problem. [4]


Highway 1 covers practically every major inhabited part of Australia. Large capital cities, busy holiday resorts, dramatic coastlines, forests ranging from tropical to temperate gum forests, giant karri stands, scrubland, deserts, and huge tropical swamps are some of the variety of landscapes that can be found along the route.

Stretches of Highway 1 are very popular with interstate and overseas tourists. A drive around Highway 1 with a major detour to Uluru and back again practically covers most of Australia. The number 1 shield became part of the bush landscape to many travellers, truckers/truckies, and country people.


On 18 June 2017 team Highway 1 to Hell set a new record for a complete lap of Australia. [5] While there have been previous attempts (notably Motor Magazine's 2004 record of 6 days, 8 hours and 52 minutes [6] ) which skipped inland direct to Mt Isa, the Highway 1 to Hell team travelled the route of Highway 1 skipping Tasmania's stretch of road [7] [equaling 14,280 km (8,873.181 mi)] in 5 days, 13 hours and 43 minutes. [5]

See also

Related Research Articles

National Highway (Australia)

The National Highway is a system of roads connecting all mainland states and territories of Australia, and is the major network of highways and motorways connecting Australia's capital cities and major regional centres.

Highways in Australia Wikipedia list article

Highways in Australia are generally high capacity roads managed by state and territory government agencies, though Australia's federal government contributes funding for important links between capital cities and major regional centres. Prior to European settlement, the earliest needs for trade and travel were met by narrow bush tracks, used by tribes of Indigenous Australians. The formal construction of roads began in 1788, after the founding of the colony of New South Wales, and a network of three major roads across the colony emerged by the 1820s. Similar road networks were established in the other colonies of Australia. Road construction programs in the early 19th century were generally underfunded, as they were dependent on government budgets, loans, and tolls; while there was a huge increase in road usage, due to the Australian gold rushes. Local government authorities, often known as Road Boards, were therefore established to be primarily responsible for funding and undertaking road construction and maintenance. The early 1900s saw both the increasingly widespread use of motorised transportation, and the creation of state road authorities in each state, between 1913 and 1926. These authorities managed each state's road network, with the main arterial roads controlled and maintained by the state, and other roads remaining the responsibility of local governments. The federal government became involved in road funding in the 1920s, distributing funding to the states. The depression of the 1930s slowed the funding and development of the major road network until the onset on World War II. Supply roads leading to the north of the country were considered vital, resulting in the construction of Barkly, Stuart, and Eyre Highways.

Princes Highway

The Princes Highway is a major road in Australia, extending from Sydney to Adelaide via the coast through the states of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. It has a length of 1,941 kilometres (1,206 mi) or 1,898 kilometres (1,179 mi) via the former alignments of the highway, although these routes are slower and connections to the bypassed sections of the original route are poor in many cases.

Pacific Highway (Australia)

The Pacific Highway is a 780-kilometre-long (485 mi) national highway and major transport route along the central east coast of Australia, with the majority of it being part of Australia's Highway 1. It no longer includes former sections of the highway between Brunswick Heads and Brisbane that have been legally renamed Pacific Motorway or Gold Coast Highway. As such, the highway stops short of the Queensland border near the Gold Coast.

New England Highway

The New England Highway is an 878-kilometre (546 mi) long highway in Australia running from Hexham at Newcastle, New South Wales at its southern end to Yarraman, north of Toowoomba, Queensland at its northern end. It is part of Australia's National Highway system, and forms part of the inland route between Brisbane and Sydney.

Carnarvon Highway

The Carnarvon Highway is a state highway of Queensland, Australia, linking Moree south of the NSW/QLD border, via the town of St George, eventually to the township of Rolleston. Formerly, north of Roma it was known as the Carnarvon Developmental Road. National Route 46 runs from Mungindi to the Castlereagh Highway just south of St George. From here, the A55 continues north, through St George and Surat to Roma. The A7 then continues north from Roma to Rolleston, which continues along the Dawson Highway and Gregory Highway to Emerald and Charters Towers.

Cunningham Highway

The Cunningham Highway is a 327-kilometre (203 mi) national highway located in south-eastern Queensland, Australia. The highway links the Darling Downs region with the urbanised outskirts of Ipswich via Cunninghams Gap.

Pacific Motorway (Sydney–Newcastle)

The Pacific Motorway, signposted M1, is a 127 km (79 mi) stretch of motorway linking Sydney to the Central Coast, Newcastle and Hunter regions of New South Wales. It is also known by its former names F3 Freeway, Sydney–Newcastle Freeway, and Sydney–Newcastle Expressway. It is part of the AusLink road corridor between Sydney and Brisbane. The name "F3 Freeway" reflects its former route allocation, but is commonly used by both the public and the government to refer to the roadway long after the route allocation itself was no longer in use.

Borroloola Town in the Northern Territory, Australia

Borroloola is a town in the Northern Territory of Australia. It is located on the McArthur River, about 50 km upstream from the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Kennedy Highway

The Kennedy Highway is a highway in northern Queensland, Australia. It runs as National Route 1 for approximately 243 km from Smithfield, on the northern outskirts of Cairns, to the Gulf Developmental Road in the vicinity of Forty Mile Scrub and Undara Volcanic national parks. South of this junction, the road continues as the Kennedy Developmental Road to Boulia about 936 kilometres away, via Hughenden. West of the junction, National Route 1 continues as the Gulf Developmental Road to Normanton.

Doomadgee, Queensland Town in Queensland, Australia

Doomadgee is a town and a locality in the Aboriginal Shire of Doomadgee, Queensland, Australia. It is a mostly Indigenous community, situated about 140 kilometres (87 mi) from the Northern Territory border, and 93 kilometres (58 mi) west of Burketown.

Anna Hingley is the first woman to ride on horseback across the Australian Outback, which she completed on 5 August 2006. The 3,510 kilometres (2,180 mi) journey was undertaken to raise A$100,000 for Angel Flight, an Australian charity that co-ordinates non-emergency flights for financially and medically needy people.

Burketown Town in Queensland, Australia

Burketown is an isolated outback town and coastal locality in the Shire of Burke, Queensland, Australia. In the 2016 census, Burketown had a population of 238 people. It is located 898 km west of Cairns on the Albert River and Savannah Way in the area known as the Gulf Savannah. The town is the administrative centre of the vast Burke Shire Council.

Shire of Burke Local government area in Queensland, Australia

The Shire of Burke is a local government area in North West Queensland, Australia. The shire lies on the south coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria and abuts the border with the Northern Territory. It covers an area of 39,864 square kilometres (15,391.6 sq mi), and has existed as a local government entity since 1885. The major town and administrative centre of the shire is Burketown. The shire and town and the Burke River passing through all are named in honour of ill-fated explorer Robert O'Hara Burke.

Savannah Way Route in Australia

The Savannah Way is a route of highways and major roads across the tropical savannahs of northern Australia, linking Cairns in Queensland with Broome in Western Australia. Promoted as a self-drive tourist route, it joins Cairns, Normanton, Borroloola, Katherine, Kununurra, Fitzroy Crossing, Derby and Broome. It has been designated by the Queensland Government as a State Strategic Touring Route.

This is a list of freeways or freeway grade roads in Australia, sorted by states and territories and their corresponding routes. This list includes tollways / toll roads such as the CityLink freeway system in Melbourne. This list has over 120 entries. The jurisdiction in Australia without freeways is the Northern Territory and Jervis Bay Territory. New South Wales has the largest and densest freeway network in Australia followed by Victoria and then Queensland

Highway 1 (Queensland)

In Queensland, Highway 1 is a 2,964-kilometre (1,842 mi) long route that crosses the state, from the Northern Territory (NT) border near Wollogorang to Cairns, and then travels along the coastline to the New South Wales (NSW) border near Coolangatta. Highway 1 continues around the rest of Australia, joining all mainland state capitals, and connecting major centres in Tasmania. All roads within the Highway 1 system are allocated a road route numbered 1, M1, A1, or B1, depending on the state route numbering system. In Queensland, the highway is designated as National Route 1 from the NT border to Cairns, Route A1 from Cairns to Kybong, and then Route M1 down to the NSW border.

Highway 1 (New South Wales)

In New South Wales, Highway 1 is a 1,351-kilometre (839 mi) long route that crosses the state, from the Queensland/New South Wales border near Tweed Heads to the Victorian border near Timbillica. It provides the main coastal route between Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney. Highway 1 continues around the rest of Australia, joining all mainland state capitals, and connecting major centres in Tasmania.

The Matilda Way is an Australian road route from Bourke, New South Wales to Karumba in Queensland. It has been designated by the Queensland Government as a State Strategic Touring Route.


  1. "Journeys" (PDF). Tourism Australia. December 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 February 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  2. 1 2 Taylor, David (2012). The Highway One travel companion. Volume 1, Melbourne to Tweed Heads. Salisbury, Queensland: Boolarong Press. p. 9. ISBN   9780987218902. Archived from the original on 6 October 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  3. Distance book (12 ed.). Main Roads Western Australia. 2012. pp. 4–5. ISBN   0 7309 7657 2. Archived from the original on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Doyle, John (31 December 2012). "Australia's Highway 1" (MP3). Radio National Breakfast. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  5. 1 2 Caradvice.com.au- Around Australia speed record broken
  6. Motormag.com.au- Around Australia in 6 days
  7. facebook.com- Highway 1 to Hell Route

Further reading

Route map:

KML file (edithelp)
    KML is from Wikidata