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Portal:Australian roads

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The Australian roads portal


A '1' shield on a sign next to a road
A section of Highway 1
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 In the following decades, the National Highway system was amended through legislation, and was eventually superseded in 2005 by the broader National Land Transport Network, which includes connections to major commercial centres, and intermodal freight transport facilities.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.

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View along The Causeway towards East Perth

The Causeway is an arterial traffic crossing in Perth, Western Australia, linking the inner-city suburbs of East Perth and Victoria Park. It is composed of two bridges either side of Heirisson Island that cross the Swan River at the eastern end of Perth Water. The current Causeway is the third structure to have been crossed the river at this point. Originally the site of mudflats which restricted river navigation, the Colony Government constructed a causeway and bridge across the site, which opened in 1843. When floods in 1862 almost destroyed it, the structure was rebuilt using convict labour, and raised to better withstand future floods. Governor John Hampton officially opened the new Causeway on 12 November 1867. The current Causeway bridges, designed by E W C Godfrey and built between 1947 and 1952, were the first in Western Australia to use steel composite construction. By the early 2000s, the concrete structures had suffered significant damage. Cracks were repaired using Carbon fibre reinforcement and localised patching, extending the bridge's life by decades. The Causeway bridges have been recognised for their heritage value by their entry on the Western Australian Register of Heritage Places.

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International road news

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The Gunbarrel Highway, as straight as a gun barrel

Did you know...

  • ... that the original Fremantle Traffic Bridge was built between 1863 and 1867 using convict labour?
  • ... that though planning began in the 1960s, the first stages of the Geelong Ring Road didn't open until 2007?
  • ... that on 4 April 2010, 18-year-old pilot Patrick Humphries made world headlines by using the normally busy Brooker Highway as an emergency landing strip?



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