Road Photos & Information: New South Wales
  Sydney-Newcastle Freeway (National Highway 1) - Hawkesbury River to Calga (Decommissioned)

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General Information:

The Sydney-Newcastle Freeway is the major arterial highway between Sydney and Newcastle. Starting life as the Berowra-Calga Tollway, the F3 has been gradually extended and improved until the Palmdale / Ourimbah gap and Lengahans Drive bypass were completed in the late 90's. The F3 replaced several sections of very windy road between Berowra and the southern reaches of Newcastle. 1

The freeway starts with the junction of the Pacific Highway and Pennant Hills Road at Pearce's Corner, Wahroonga in Sydney's north. From here it goes north, skirting the western edge of the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park before meeting the Hawkesbury River at Brooklyn. After crossing the Hawkesbury the motorway passes through the Brisbane Water National Park, crossing Mooney Mooney Creek with an impressive 480m long and 75m high bridge before reaching the first main interchange on the Central Coast at Kariong. 1

After reaching Kariong, the motorway continues through rural and semi-rural areas of the Central Coast with interchanges provided at Ourimbah, Tuggerah, Warnervale and also Kiar, near Doyalson. From the Doyalson interchange the freeway continues to the west of Lake Macquarie with interchanges near Morisset, Cessnock, Toronto and Cardiff. The Doyalson interchange is with what is known as "Motorway Link" a connection feeder to the Pacific Highway (now SR111), when the freeway ended at this interchange in the mid 1980s. 1

After the Cardiff interchange a link road takes traffic into Newcastle via Wallsend while the motorway continues north to reach its finish with a roundabout at the junction of Weakleys Drive (Weakley's Drive photos can be seen here) and John Renshaw Drive, Beresfield. From here the National Highway route continues to Brisbane via the New England Highway (accessed via Weakleys Drive), with traffic on NH1/NH15 taking John Renshaw Drive and the New England Highway eastbound to meet the Pacific Highway at Hexham. 1

The Sydney-Newcastle Freeway, is part of the Auslink National Network, and is the major road linking Sydney, the Central Coast and Newcastle. It also links with the New England and Pacific Highways, for travel to northern New South Wales and Queensland. The Sydney-Newcastle Freeway is a vital link for around 75 000 motorists that use the freeway daily, the majority of whom travel between the Central Coast and Hunter regions and Sydney. During weekends and school holidays, the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway is heavily used by motorists travelling to and returning from northern New South Wales and Queensland holiday destinations. 2

History:

The F3 replaced the old Pacific Highway which was built in the 1920’s along a route that had existed since 1840s, when settler George Peat cut a track to his property on the banks of the Hawkesbury River. 2

Planning began for the freeway in the 1950s, with the aim of providing a high-speed replacement to a section of the Pacific Highway which was built in the 1920s and was struggling to cope with the increased traffic volume. Furthermore it was planned that the freeway would connect to freeway systems being proposed for both Sydney and Newcastle, providing a city-to-city freeway link. However, due to several reasons the goal and route of the freeway changed significantly so that today it serves to bypass Newcastle rather than go into it. 1

Firstly, the route between Mount White and Kariong was originally planned to go further east than the current route with an easier crossing of Mooney Mooney Creek. By the time that construction was to begin on this section resistance from the National Parks and Wildlife Service to the proposed route forced the government to take a route through Calga which at the time would have formed part of a route to Singleton. 1

The route through Wyong Shire changed as well; instead of passing along the western edge of the Tuggerah Lakes development in that area resulted in the freeway moving further west with a link road being constructed to meet the Pacific Highway near Doyalson. 1

Perhaps the most significant effect on the freeway's route and its connections was the anti-freeway movement of the 1970s. Strong public resistance to freeways being constructed within cities along with less than favourable results from government inquiries resulted in unconstructed freeway projects being cancelled and those under construction being revised or cut short. For the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway, this meant that the connecting Lane Cove Valley and North-Western Freeways in Sydney would not be built - forcing traffic to travel along the Pacific Highway between Wahroonga and the city. In addition, the freeway would now go to the west of Lake Macquarie rather than the east and bypass Newcastle. Sections of State Route 123, one of the two expressway routes that the freeway would have connected to in Newcastle, have been constructed, while the freeway route between Belmont and Bennetts Green and the connecting expressway route to Merewether are still reserved with the possibility that they could be constructed in the future. 1

A plaque near the former Mooney Mooney toll plaza (now ambulance station), commemorating the Hawkesbury River to Mt White section of the route, reads as follows: 2

Sydney - Newcastle Road

The first pioneer trade directly connecting Sydney and areas north of the Hawkesbury River was established in 1844 when a ferry service between Kangaroo Point and Mooney Mooney Point was connected by George Peat. The rough tracks north of the River lead to Wollombi, Cessnock, Maitland and Newcastle. Prior to 1844 travellers to and from the areas north of The Hawkesbury River had to travel a long and circuitous route via Windsor and Wisemans Ferry. With the opening of the Railway between Sydney and Newcastle in 1889, the Northern Road via Peats Ferry fell into disuse. Direct Road access from Sydney to Newcastle was re-established by the Main Roads Board in 1930 with the opening to traffic of a new motor road constructed from Hornsby to Gosford as part of the Pacific Highway and the provision of a vehicular ferry service across the Hawkesbury River. The road bridge which replaced the ferry service was completed in 1945. The Toll work from Hawkesbury River to Mount White approximately 5 ¾ miles opened to traffic on 15th December 1965, is ultimately to form part of an expressway between Sydney and Newcastle which will replace the Pacific Highway as the principal arterial road between these cities. It is the first major rural expressway construction to be undertaken in New South Wales.

The Hon. P.H. Morton, MLA
Minister for Highways

J.A.L. Shaw D.S.O., B.E.
Commissioner for Main Roads

Click here for photos of the construction of the route between Hawkesbury River and Calga
Click here for historical photos of the route between Hawkesbury River and Calga

Hawkesbury River to Calga   Calga to Hawkesbury River
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Peats Ferry Bridge:
Crossing the Hawkesbury River at Mooney Mooney. September 2007.

Image © Paul Rands

  AD Sign:
Advance Directional Sign for the Pacific Highway at Mount White, June 2012. Click here for a photo of the previous sign from March 2007.

Image © Justin Cozart

Mooney Mooney Interchange:
Northbound through the interchange at Mooney Mooney. September 2007.

Image © Paul Rands

  Heavy Vehicle Inspection Station:
Located at Mount White, March 2007.

Image © Paul Rands

Distance Sign:
Large RD as you head Northbound at Mooney Mooney, just after the Mooney Mooney interchange and the ambulance station (former toll plaza area), September 2007.

Image © Paul Rands

  AD Sign:
Advance Directional Sign for the Pacific Highway at Mount White, June 2012. Click here for a photo of the previous sign from March 2007.

Image © Justin Cozart

Start Wet Weather Zone:
The beginning of the hi-tech wet weather zone, which is only on the northbound lanes. Mooney Mooney, September 2007.

Image © Paul Rands

  Mt White Interchange:
Southbound through the interchange at Mount White, July 2013. Click here for a photo of this location from March 2007. The interchange is a partial cloverleaf and trumpet interchange, and was once the end of the freeway, opening to traffic in 1965.

Image © Paul Rands

Wet Weather Zone:
More of the special wet weather zone, which is only on the northbound lanes. Approaching Jolls Bridge at Cheero Point, September 2006.

Image © Paul Rands

  Mt White Interchange:
Southbound through the interchange at Mount White, March 2007. The interchange is a partial cloverleaf and trumpet interchange, and was once the end of the freeway, opening to traffic in 1965.

Image © Paul Rands

Cheero Point Area:
Sydney-Newcastle Fwy as it winds its way up through Cheero Point, September 2007.

Image © Paul Rands

  RD Sign:
Distance sign after the Mt White interchange, June 2012. Click here for a photo of the previous sign from March 2007.

Image © Justin Cozart

Wet Weather Zone Variable Speed Signage:
One of several variable speed signs and speed cameras within the special northbound only wet weather zone. Mooney Mooney Creek area. September 2006.

Image © Paul Rands

  Mooney Mooney Creek area:
Southbound through the 90 km/h zone in the Mooney Mooney Creek area, March 2007.

Image © Paul Rands

Advance Directional Sign:
Diagrammatic AD sign for the Mount White interchange, September 2007.

Image © Paul Rands

  Mooney Mooney Creek area:
Southbound through the 90 km/h zone in the Mooney Mooney Creek area, March 2007.

Image © Paul Rands

Mt White Interchange:
Heavy vehicle checking station signage and the Mt White interchange. September 2007.

Image © Paul Rands

  Advance Directional Sign:
AD sign for the interchange at Mooney Mooney, June 2012. Click here for a photo by Rob Tilley from November 2010 showing the sign with a different road name patch. Click here for a photo of this location from March 2007.

Image © Paul Rands

Distance Sign:
RD sign as you head northbound at Mt White, just after the Mt White interchange, September 2007.

Image © Paul Rands

  Jolls Bridge:
Crossing Jolls Bridge at Cheero Point, March 2007.

Image © Paul Rands

Heavy Vehicle Checking Station Sign:
Signage for the heavy vehicle checking station located at Mt White. September 2007.

Image © Paul Rands

  Advance Directional Sign:
AD sign for the interchange at Mooney Mooney, June 2012. Click here for a photo by Rob Tilley from November 2010 showing the sign with a different road name patch. Click here for a photo of this location from March 2007.

Image © Paul Rands

Heavy Vehicle Checking Station:
The northbound heavy vehicle checking station at Mt White, September 2007.

Image © Paul Rands

  Services Sign:
Signage showing available services accessible from the Mooney Mooney interchange, March 2007.

Image © Paul Rands

Mount White Area:
The original section (see far right of photo with portable lights) was closed and re-routed to the "phantom junction" area of the original freeway. The phantom junction was designed to be a more direct route to the Central Coast, but construction and environmental concerns caused the freeway to be moved slightly. In 2004 the junction was used to duplicate the northbound carriageway. April 2004.

Image © Paul Rands

  Mooney Mooney Interchange:
Southbound through the Mooney Mooney Interchange, June 2012. Click here for a photo by Rob Tilley from November 2010 showing the sign with a different road name patch. Click here for a photo of this location from March 2007.

Image © Paul Rands

Old Freeway Alignment:
Shows upgrade works in the Mount White area. This part of the Southbound carriageway has been closed due to the difficulties in upgrading it to 3 lanes as it was mostly bridges. The cutting shows old section which is being used for storage. Since about 2006 / 2007 the old section (over 3 km) is now used for truck parking and a southbound heavy vehicle inspection station. This section was closed and re-routed to the "phantom junction" area of the freeway. In 2004 the junction was used to duplicate the Northbound carriageway. April 2004.

Image © Paul Rands

  Mooney Mooney Interchange:
Southbound through the Mooney Mooney Interchange, March 2007.

Image © Paul Rands

      Distance Sign:
RD sign approaching Hawkesbury River Bridge at Mooney Mooney, June 2012.

Image © Paul Rands

      Hawkesbury River Bridge:
Crossing the Hawkesbury River at Mooney Mooney, June 2012.

Image © Justin Cozart

Click here for the continuation of NH1 between Calga and Somersby
Click here for the continuation of NH1 between Hawkesbury River and Berowra

1 Sam Laybutt
2 Roads & Traffic Authority
3 Gosford City Council
4 Department of Main Roads, Inter-City Expressway, Hawkesbury River-Calga Tollway brochure

Last updated: 06-Jan-2017 13:48

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