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


Route Numbering:

General Information:

The Sydney-Newcastle Freeway is the major arterial highway between Sydney and Newcastle. Starting life as the Berowra-Calga Tollway, the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway has been gradually extended and improved until the Palmdale / Ourimbah gap and Lengahans Drive bypass were completed in the late 90's. The route 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


The Sydney-Newcastle Freeway replaced the old Pacific Highway which was built in the 1920s 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 an old DMR issued brochure on Expressway Etiquette, which includes a map of the (former) tollway from Berowra to Calga.

Due to the large number of images and information on the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway, it has been broken into several sections, as detailed in the maps below. Click inside the green boxes to view each section.

Wahroonga to Wyong Wyong to Beresfield

1 Sam Laybutt
2 Roads & Traffic Authority
3 Gosford City Council
4 Department of Main Roads, Inter-City Expressway, Hawkesbury River-Calga Tollway brochure
5 Department of Main Roads, The Roadmakers, A History of Main Roads in New South Wales, ISBN 0 7240 0439 4
6 Office of the NSW Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government

Last updated: 08 Nov 2019 01:09

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