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Australia's Highway 1 is a network of highways that circumnavigate the country, joining all mainland state capitals. 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

National Route 1 National Highway 1 National Highway M1 National Highway A1
State Route M1 State Route A1 State Route B1
Map of Australia's Highway 1
Map of Highway 1, which is a ring road around Australia. A separate section in Tasmania connects Hobart to Burnie.
General information
Length14,500 km (9,010 mi)
HistoryHighway 1 was established in 1955
Highway system


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 and territories, with the exception of the Australian Capital 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 Most of these route designations have been replaced by either a state route designation, or an alpha-numeric route designation, depending on which state the section is in.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 markersEdit

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

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 markersEdit

State Segment Route marker Road(s) See also
New South Wales QLD border to West Ballina   M1 Pacific Motorway (QLD/NSW) Highway 1 (New South Wales)
West Ballina to Newcastle   A1 Pacific Highway (NSW)
Newcastle to Wahroonga   M1 Pacific Motorway (NSW)
Wahroonga to Artarmon   A1 Pacific Highway (NSW)
Artarmon to Mascot   M1
Mascot to Waterfall   A1
Waterfall to Yallah   M1 Princes Motorway
Yallah to VIC border   A1 Princes Highway (NSW)
Victoria NSW border to Traralgon   A1 Princes Highway (VIC) Highway 1 (Victoria)
Traralgon to Winchelsea   M1
Winchelsea to SA border   A1 Princes Highway (VIC)
South Australia VIC border to Tailem Bend   B1 Princes Highway (SA) Highway 1 (South Australia)
Tailem Bend to Murray Bridge   National Highway A1 Princes Highway (SA)
Murray Bridge to Glen Osmond   National Highway M1 South Eastern Freeway
Glen Osmond to Waterloo Corner   A1
Waterloo Corner to WA border   National Highway A1
Western Australia SA border to Norseman   National Highway 1 Eyre Highway Highway 1 (Western Australia)
Norseman to Port Hedland   National Route 1
Port Hedland to NT border   National Highway 1
Northern Territory WA border to Katherine   National Highway 1 Victoria Highway Highway 1 (Northern Territory)
Katherine to Daly Waters   National Highway 1 Stuart Highway
Daly Waters to QLD border   National Route 1
Queensland NT border to Cairns   National Route 1 Highway 1 (Queensland)
Cairns to Kybong   A1 Bruce Highway
Kybong to NSW border   M1
Tasmania Entire Route   National Highway 1 Highway 1 (Tasmania)

The Savannah Way sectionEdit

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 conditionsEdit

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, 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.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Journeys" (PDF). Tourism Australia. December 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 February 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  2. ^ a b Taylor, David (2012). The Highway One travel companion. Volume 1, Melbourne to Tweed Heads. Salisbury, Queensland: Boolarong Press. p. 9. ISBN 9780987218902.
  3. ^ Distance book (12 ed.). Main Roads Western Australia. 2012. pp. 4–5. ISBN 0 7309 7657 2. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d 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. ^ Around Australia speed record broken
  6. ^ Around Australia in 6 days
  7. ^ Highway 1 to Hell Route
  8. ^ Around Australia speed record broken

External linksEdit

Further readingEdit

Route map:

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