Portal:Australian roads

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The Australian roads portal

Introduction

Kangaroo warning sign
Kangaroo warning sign
Australia's earliest needs for trade and travel were met by narrow bush tracks, used by tribes of Indigenous Australians prior to European settlement. The formal construction of roads began in 1788 in the newly formed colony of New South Wales. 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, to manage each state's arterial road network. 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 of 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.

The decades following the war saw substantial improvements to the network, with freeways established in cities, many major highways sealed, development of rural roads in northern Queensland and Western Australia, and interstate routes upgraded. In 1974, the federal government assumed responsibility for funding the nation's most important road links, between state and territory capital cities, which were declared National Highways. Those roads were gradually improved, and by 1989, all gravel road sections had been sealed. In the following decades, the National Highway system was amended through legislation, and was eventually superseded in 2005 by the broader National Land Transport Network, which includes connections to major commercial centres, and intermodal freight transport facilities.

The first route marking system was introduced to Australia in the 1950s. National Routes were assigned to significant interstate routes – the most important road links in the country. National Route 1 was designated to a circular route around the Australian coastline. A state route marking system was designed to supplement the national system, for inter-regional and urban routes within states. When the National Highway system was introduced, National Routes along it became National Highway routes with the same numbers, but with distinctive green and gold route markers. During the late 1970s, planning began for a new alphanumeric route system in the state of Tasmania. Alphanumeric routes have since been introduced in most states and territories in Australia, partially or completely replacing the previous systems.

Selected article

High altitude section of Snowy Mountains Highway with distinctive yellow lane marking

The Snowy Mountains Highway is a highway in New South Wales, Australia. Its two sections connect the New South Wales South Coast to the Monaro region, and the Monaro to the South West Slopes via the Snowy Mountains. The higher altitude regions of this road are subject to snow over the winter months, and the road also provides access to many parts of the Snowy Mountains Scheme. The highway bears the B72 shield along its entire length. The highway originally bore then name Monaro Highway until 1958, when it received its current name. It originally ran from Tathra to Wagga Wagga but has been shortened to run from the Princes Highway to the Hume Highway instead. Part of the roadway was reallocated to what is now known as the Monaro Highway in 1955. Reservoirs created as a result of dams built in the 1950s and 1960s as part of the Snowy Mountains Scheme required the creation of major realignments to avoid submerged areas. The highway is currently signed as B72 along its entire length. Previous to New South Wales' conversion to alphanumeric route markers, it was signed as National Route 18.

Selected video

Driving down Greenmount Hill on Great Eastern Highway

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Selected picture

Wanneroo Road 047 S Tuart Hill Lawley.jpg
Wanneroo Road, with Perth's CBD in the background

Did you know...

  • ... that the Canberra road Yarra Glen does not have one of the usual roadway suffixes because the name sounds better without them?
  • ... that part of High Street in Fremantle, Western Australia, was closed in the 1960s in order to reinstate Kings Square as a town square?
  • ... the decision to only use electronic toll collection for Melbourne's CityLink was made in 1992, at a time when there was little practical experience of such systems?

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