Road Photos & Information: New South Wales
Great Western Highway, Mitchell Highway & Barrier Highway (National Route 32) (Decommissioned)


Route Numbering:

General Information:

National Route 32 is the main route linking the New South Wales state capital, Sydney, with the west of the state. The road varies from arterial road conditions, rural expressway and rural highway.

The highway is signposted as National Route 32 from Glenbrook in Sydney's west, to its terminus at Bathurst. Great Western Hwy is signposted as SR44 in the sydney area.

The Great Western Highway is regarded as one of the oldest roads in Australia. Starting as George Street in the Sydney CBD, and following Parramatta Road, it heads west across metropolitan Sydney to Penrith, where it crosses the Nepean River. It then crosses the Blue Mountains and the Great Dividing Range to Bathurst.

The road across the Blue Mountains was built by William Cox in the 1800s shortly after a viable route across the mountains was discovered. An obelisk at Macquarie Place in Sydney records the construction of the road during the rule of Governor Lachlan Macquarie.

In the 90s, the highway was terminated at Emu Plains with the closure of the Knapsack Gully Viaduct. An extension to the Western Mwy (Metroad 4) at Emu Plains was constructed, which rejoined with the highway at Glenbrook. The upper portion of the Great Western Highway from Russell Street is now only used by residents and cars coming from Blaxland via Mitchells Pass. Mitchells Pass is section of the former main road over the Blue Mountains.

The Mitchell Highway links north-western NSW with Dubbo, Bathurst and eventually Sydney.

The highway starts at Bathurst as National Route 32 and heads west through the Great Dividing Range to Orange then continues north through Molong, Wellington and Dubbo. From Dubbo, the highway follows the Bourke railway line in a north-westerly direction to Nyngan. The highway's route number changes to NR71 (after the Barrier Highway junction at Nyngan), and then it continues north-west to Bourke and terminates at the QLD border, just north of Barringun.

The Mitchell Highway is named after Major Thomas Mitchell, who was Surveyor-General of New South Wales in the 1820s and explored much of inland New South Wales and Victoria.

The Barrier Highway is a highway in New South Wales and South Australia.

The Barrier Highway starts at Nyngan where it joins the Mitchell Highway. It heads west to Cobar. It then continues to Wilcannia, then further west it passes through Broken Hill and enters South Australia, turning southwest towards Adelaide. It joins Main North Road at Giles Corner between Riverton and Tarlee. Route A32 continues on Main North Road to Gawler where it joins the Sturt Highway (A20). The area traversed by the Barrier Highway is remote and very sparsely settled.


Click here for historical photos and drawings of the route.

1 Roads and Traffic Authority, Schedule of Classified Roads (and unclassified Regional Roads), 25 February 2008
2 Department of Main Roads. The Roadmakers, A History of Main Roads in New South Wales, ISBN 0 7240 0439 4
3 Roads & Traffic Authority, Projects, Western Region, Completed Projects, Railway overpass at Molong.
4 Roads & Traffic Authority, Projects, Great Western Highway, Completed projects.
5 Roads & Traffic Authority, Community update, Road activity update – Western NSW, February 2003.
6 Roads & Traffic Authority, News & Events, Great Western Highway upgrade at Lawson, 4 August 2008.
7 Minister for Infrastructure & Transport, Media Release, Molong overpass construction underway, October 14 2009.
8 Roads & Traffic Authority, Projects, Great Western Highway, Installation of mid-block pedestrian lights – Great Western Highway, Blackheath, 31 May 2010.
9 Roads & Traffic Authority, Projects approved under Round 2 of the Federal Government's Heavy Vehicle Safety Productivity Program, March 2010.
10 Roads & Traffic Authority, Projects, Great Western Highway, July 2011.

Last updated: 10-Sep-2020 0:38

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