Pacific Motorway (Sydney–Newcastle)

Last updated

M1 Pacific Motorway

F3 Freeway / Sydney–Newcastle Freeway / Sydney–Newcastle Expressway

View northbound at Berowra
SSW end
NNE end
General information
Type Freeway
Length127.1 km (79 mi)
Opened15 December 1965
Gazetted 1 February 2013 [1] [2]
HistoryFurther stages opened up until 1998
Route number(s)
  • M1 (2013-present)
  • (Entire Length)
route number
  • National Highway 1
  • (1974 [3] -2013)
  • F3 (unsigned)
  • (1973 [4] -unknown)
Major junctions
SSW end

Bobbin Head Road

NNE end
Major suburbs / towns
Highway system

The M1 Pacific Motorway, also known by the former names F3 Freeway, Sydney–Newcastle Freeway, and Sydney–Newcastle Expressway; is a 127 km (79 mi) stretch of freeway linking Sydney to the Central Coast, Newcastle and Hunter regions of New South Wales. 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. [5]



At its southern end, the freeway starts at Pennant Hills Road, Wahroonga, near its junction with the Pacific Highway (Pearces Corner) in Sydney's north. It heads north, skirting the western edge of the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, running parallel with the railway line until it descends to the Hawkesbury River, crossing at Kangaroo Point in Brooklyn. Immediately north of the river, the Hawkesbury River interchange provides access to Brooklyn and Mooney Mooney before the road climbs. At Mount White there are major heavy vehicle checking stations on both northbound and southbound carriageways, to assess compliance and roadworthiness of trucks.

The freeway passes through the Brisbane Water National Park, and the Calga interchange gives access to Peats Ridge.The freeway then turns east to cross Mooney Mooney Creek by way of the 480 m (1,575 ft) long, 75 m (246 ft) high Mooney Mooney Bridge before it reaches the first major interchange on the Central Coast at Kariong.

After Kariong, the freeway continues through rural and semi-rural areas of the Central Coast with interchanges at Ourimbah, Tuggerah, Warnervale and Kiar, near Doyalson. From the Doyalson interchange the freeway continues to the west of Lake Macquarie with interchanges near Morisset, Cessnock, Toronto and West Wallsend.

At the West Wallsend interchange the Newcastle Link Road (A15) takes traffic into Newcastle via Wallsend and also connects with the M15 Hunter Expressway towards Kurri Kurri and Singleton, while the freeway continues north to end at the roundabout at the junction of Weakleys Drive and John Renshaw Drive, Beresfield. From here traffic bound for Highway 1 takes John Renshaw Drive and the New England Highway eastwards to meet the Pacific Highway at Hexham, and Weakleys Drive connects with the New England Highway towards Maitland.

Between Wahroonga and Ourimbah the freeway passes through rugged sandstone country, particularly as it descends to and ascends from the Hawkesbury River. This section of the freeway is characterised by deep cuttings and extensive embankments.

Approximate road distances (in kilometres) from Sydney of towns and cities along the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway (and Brisbane)
Jolls Bridge, north of the Hawkesbury River
View southbound at Berowra
Southbound on the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway, approaching the Mooney Mooney Bridge


Planning for the freeway began in 1952, with the aim of providing a high-speed replacement for a section of the Pacific Highway that had been built in 1925–30 which was struggling to cope with the increased traffic. It was planned that the freeway would connect to the freeway systems being proposed for both Sydney and Newcastle, providing a city-to-city freeway link.

The route between Mount White and Kariong was originally planned to be further south than the route as built, with an easier crossing of Mooney Mooney Creek. By the time that construction on this section was to begin, resistance from the National Parks & Wildlife Service to the proposed route forced the Department of Main Roads to take a route through Calga, using part of the first stage of a proposed freeway route to Singleton which had been built the 1960s. That scheme has never been further developed.

The route through Wyong Shire also changed; instead of passing east of Wyong along the western edge of the Tuggerah Lakes, development in that area forced the freeway to be moved to the west of Wyong, with link roads being constructed to meet the Pacific Highway near Doyalson and Tuggerah.

In addition, the freeway was revised to go to the west of Lake Macquarie rather than the east, and thereby bypass Newcastle. One of the reasons for this change of location was the issue of connectivity to the Pacific Highway north of Newcastle, as the route of the Newcastle Inner City Bypass, which would have provided a northern extension of the freeway, is problematic in terms of its northern terminus point at Sandgate not easily allowing for a northward freeway-standard route to join to the Pacific Highway.

The sections of the Newcastle Inner City Bypass from the Pacific Highway at Bennetts Green to Kotara and from Jesmond to Sandgate have since been constructed, while the original freeway route between Belmont and Bennetts Green and then northward to the Pacific Highway at Merewether Heights is still reserved from development, with the possibility that it could be constructed in the future.

The major stages in the construction of the freeway were: [6]

In August 2013, road signs were changed to show the new M1 marker and the new name "Pacific Motorway" as part of a new statewide alpha numeric route scheme. [5]

Upgrades and proposed connections

Core sampling in preparation for construction of the Hunter Expressway

Strong public resistance in the 1970s to freeways being constructed within cities and unfavourable outcomes of government inquiries resulted in several freeway proposals in Sydney being abandoned. This included the connecting the Lane Cove Valley and North Western Expressways, which means that the Pacific Highway (a six lane urban arterial) continues to be the connecting route between the freeway's southern terminus at Wahroonga and the city centre.

However plans are currently being developed for extensions at both ends of the M1:

"F3" designation

The northbound and southbound cafes at the Warnervale interchange are called "Cafe F3", reflecting the road's former route allocation and its common name.

In addition to the National Highway 1 designation, the freeway at one stage carried the Freeway Route 3 (F3) designation. This route numbering system, introduced in 1971, was to provide distinctive route numbering and signage for freeways in Sydney and the surrounding areas. Although the route was never signed with the F3 route marker (the numbering system was removed in the late 1980s), the route is still often referred to as the F3 Freeway, with this title being used not only colloquially but on state and federal government documents and web sites and some road signs.

Traffic disruption

Other than the Pacific Highway, which the freeway has superseded, the freeway is the only direct route between Sydney and the Central Coast, and is the major road route for road transport from Sydney to the Hunter region, northern NSW and Queensland. The freeway thus carries a heavy mix of commuter traffic, road freight transport, and (periodically) holiday and recreational travellers. It often suffers from traffic disruptions, generally associated with traffic volume and congestion related to on-road breakdowns and vehicle accidents, or natural disasters (in particular, bushfire). [16] [17]

In addition traffic on the freeway is frequently affected by vehicle crashes, often involving trucks. [18] [19] These events have encouraged the NSW motoring organisation NRMA to call for more freight to be moved by rail to reduce the number of trucks using the freeway. [20]

Bushfires have caused closure of the freeway and the nearby railway line and Pacific Highway between Sydney and the Hawkesbury River on a number of occasions. One such event of this type was recorded on 21 and 22 January 2007, when a fire broke out in the adjoining Kuring-gai Chase National Park. The fire forced the closure of the two roads and the railway line between Sydney and the Central Coast, resulting in extended disruption to traffic flow.[ citation needed ]

Because of the frequency of these disruptions to traffic flow, arguments for a second major freeway north from the Sydney metropolitan area continue to be pushed forward. [10] [21] However topography and resultant cost rules this out for practical purposes, other than indirect routes crossing the Hawkesbury in the vicinity of Wiseman's Ferry, some 30 km upstream of the current crossing.

Following criticism of significant delays due to accidents and blockages, [22] the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) is in the process of constructing a $28 million emergency plan for the freeway which involves development of a 40 km/h contraflow traffic scheme to allow vehicles to travel around an accident. [23]

In addition, the upgrade between Tuggerah and Doyalson (commenced 11/10/2017). Traffic flow has had reduced in peak periods. This work is not due to be finished until late 2020.

Traffic volume

The Annual average daily traffic (AADT) data from the Roads & Traffic Authority showed a decline in traffic volume on the freeway near its southern end at Wahroonga, from 78,600 in 2002 to about 76,600 in 2005 and then to 75,800 in 2006. [10]

The 2004 AADT figures for other locations on the freeway include 73,400 at Mooney Mooney, just north of the Hawkesbury River bridge, 60,100 near Wyong, 38,500 near Wyee, 27,000 near Freemans Waterhole and 33,000 near its northern terminus at Beresfield. [24]


Hornsby Shire Wahroonga 0.000.00 Pennant Hills Road (Cumberland Highway) (A28)
Hornsby Shire / Ku-ring-gai Council Wahroonga 4.83.0 Pacific Highway (B83)Wahroonga Interchange
Hornsby Shire Mount Colah 106.2 Pacific Highway (B83)Mount Colah Interchange
Cowan Pacific Highway (B83)Berowra Interchange
City of Gosford Mooney Mooney Pacific Highway (B83)Hawkesbury River Interchange
Mount White Pacific Highway (B83)Mount White Interchange
Calga Peats Ridge Road, Pacific Highway (B83)Calga Interchange
Somersby Central Coast Highway (B83) / Wisemans Ferry RoadKariong Interchange
Peats Ridge RoadSomersby Interchange
Wyong Shire Ourimbah Pacific Highway Ourimbah Interchange
Mardi / Tuggerah Wyong Road (B74)Tuggerah Interchange
Halloran / Jilliby / Wallarah Sparks Road (B70)Warnervale Interchange
Halloran / Jilliby / Kiah / Wallarah Motorway Link to Pacific Highway (A43)Wallarah Creek Interchange
City of Lake Macquarie Morisset Mandalong Road (B53)Morisset Interchange
Cooranbong Freemans Drive (B82)Freemans Waterhole Interchange
Freemans Waterhole Cessnock RoadAwaba Interchange
Cameron Park George Booth Drive (B89)West Wallsend Interchange
Hunter Expressway (M15) / Newcastle Link Road (A15)Newcastle Interchange
City of Newcastle Black Hill Lenaghans DriveBlack Hill Interchange
Beresfield / Black Hill John Renshaw Drive (B68) to Kurri Kurri (16 km) and Cessnock (30 km)
Weakleys Drive to Maitland (14 km) and Brisbane (836 km)
John Renshaw Drive (A1) to Newcastle (22 km), Taree (160 km) and Brisbane (784 km)
4-way roundabout
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also


  1. Government Gazette of NSW 1 February 2013 Page 8 Archived 28 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine., NSW Government, Retrieved on 6 June 2013.
  2. Government Gazette of NSW 1 May 2013 Page 15 Archived 3 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine., NSW Government, Retrieved on 6 June 2013.
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 November 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2016. Ozroads: Sydney-Newcastle Freeway - Construction Information
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 April 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2015. Ozroads: NSW Freeway Routes
  5. 1 2 "Next round of alphanumeric signs to be updated". Roads and Maritime Services. 13 August 2013. Archived from the original on 16 August 2013. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  6. "Sydney-Newcastle Freeway". NSW Roads & Traffic Authority. 20 June 2006. Archived from the original on 2 March 2008. Retrieved 9 January 2008.
  7. Mary Boson and Nicole Taylor (23 March 1989). "Motorists Rejoice as Bypass Opens". The Sydney Morning Herald . Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 June 2006. Retrieved 6 July 2006. RTA F3 Project Information
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-03. Federal minister's press release
  10. 1 2 3 Pearlman review of F3 to M7 Corridor Selection, published August 2007 Archived 17 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine .
  11. "Transurban announces preferred contractor for NorthConnex" (PDF). Transurban. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 March 2014.
  12. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 2006-10-21. F3 to Pacific Highway route study
  13. Minmi/Link Road and Stockrington Concept Plan, Page 102 Archived 23 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine ., Coal & Allied Industries, Retrieved on 31 December 2013.
  14. M1 Pacific Motorway Upgrade Between the Tuggerah and Doyalson interchanges Archived 15 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine ., NSW Roads & Maritime Services, Retrieved on 14 January 2014.
  15. M1 Pacific Motorway Upgrade Between the Kariong and Somersby interchanges Archived 15 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine ., NSW Roads & Maritime Services, Retrieved on 14 January 2014.
  16. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-21. Auslink Sydney Brisbane Corridor Strategy, p15
  17. Faulks, I.J., Irwin, J.D., Tynan, D., Dabbas, W.M., Sweedler, B. & Stewart, K., (2009). Motorways and heavy vehicle safety: The F3 Sydney – Newcastle Freeway. Paper presented to the NSW Department of Emergency Services seminar on the F3 Freeway Heavy Vehicle Safety and Emergency Management, held at Berowra NSW, Saturday 27 June 2009.
  18. "F3 closed: third smash in four days". 1 February 2008. Archived from the original on 14 February 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  19. The Age news story on crash 31 January 2008 Archived 3 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine .
  20. "Trucks face ban on F3 Highway to Hell – Daily Telegraph, 31 January 2008". Archived from the original on 19 March 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  21. "Truck smash causes freeway frustration - National -". Archived from the original on 26 November 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  22. "RTA 'bungled truck inferno reaction'". 30 January 2008. Archived from the original on 14 February 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  23. F3 Freeway emergency traffic management plan
  24. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 August 2008. Retrieved 2009-04-05. NSW RTA AADT for Northern region including Hunter, 2004