Portal:Australian roads

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The Australian roads portal

Introduction

A large, long truck on a two-lane road
Road train on the Stuart Highway, through the centre of Australia

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.

The decades following the war saw substantial improvements to the network, with freeways established in cities, many major highways sealed, development of roads in northern Queensland and Western Australia under the Beef Cattle Roads Grants Acts, and interstate routes between Sydney and Melbourne upgraded. In 1974, the federal government assumed responsibility for funding the nations most important road links, between state and territory capitals cities, which were declared National Highways. Some sections of the 16,000-kilometre-long (9,900 mi) National Highway system were no more than dirt tracks, while others were four lane dual carriageways. The network was 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 included connections to major commercial centres, and intermodal freight transport facilities. Read more...

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The Canning Stock Route, a narrow four wheel drive track through the Little Sandy Desert

The Canning Stock Route is a track that runs from Halls Creek in the Kimberley region of Western Australia to Wiluna in the mid-west region. With a total distance of around 1,850 km (1,150 mi) it is the longest historic stock route in the world.

The stock route was proposed as a way of breaking a monopoly that west Kimberley cattlemen had on the beef trade at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1906, the Government of Western Australia appointed Alfred Canning to survey the route. When the survey party returned to Perth, Canning's treatment of Aboriginal guides came under scrutiny leading to a Royal Commission. Canning had been organising Aboriginal hunts to show the explorer where the waterholes were. Despite condemning Canning's methods, the Royal Commission, after the Lord Mayor of Perth, Alexander Forrest had appeared as a witness for Canning, exonerated Canning and his men of all charges. The cook who made the complaints was dismissed and Canning was sent back to finish the job.

Canning was appointed to lead a construction party and between March 1908 and April 1910, 48 wells were completed along the route. Commercial droving began in 1910, but the stock route did not prove popular and was rarely used for the next twenty years. The wells made it difficult for Aboriginal people to access water and in reprisal they vandalised or dismantled many of the wells.

A 1928 Royal Commission into the price of beef in Western Australia led to the repair of the wells and the re-opening of the stock route. Around 20 droves took place between 1931 and 1959 when the final droving run was completed. Read more...

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In the news

International road news:

Wikinews Roads portal
  • December 28: Israel transport minister Katz plans to name a railway station after US president Donald Trump
  • December 26: Russia: Runaway bus kills at least four in entrance to Moscow Metro station
  • November 27: Singapore announces driverless buses on public roads from 2022
  • September 24: Uber London to lose operator licence after September
  • August 11: Australia: Victorian government to trial driverless vehicles on public roads
  • July 7: Volvo announces all new car models electric or hybrid from 2019

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Did you know...

  • ... that a committee in the 1920s raised the funds to turn a collection of tracks into Anzac Avenue, the longest World War I memorial road in Queensland?
  • ... that local Aboriginal activist Michael Mansell called for the Brighton Bypass to be scrapped, stating that to continue construction "would be cultural vandalism, on an extreme scale"?
  • ... that a grader which broke down during construction of Gary Junction Road had to be towed over 800 kilometres (500 mi), travelling at just 3 kilometres per hour (1.9 mph)?

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