Tullamarine Freeway

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Tullamarine Freeway
Looking south bound down the Tullamarine Freeway at Airport West.jpg
Tullamarine Freeway at Airport West
General information
Type Freeway
Length 13 km (8 mi)
Opened 1960s
Route number(s)
  • State Route 43 (1989-present)
  • Entire route
route number
  • Freeway Route 81 (1970-1989)
    • Flemington Road-Sunbury Road[1]
  • State Route 40 (1970-1989)
    • Calder Freeway-Sunbury Road[2]
  • National Route 79 (? - 1998)
    • Calder Freeway-Flemington Road[3]
Major junctions
Northwest end Sunbury Road (C743), Tullamarine, Melbourne
Southeast end CityLink (State Route 43), Pascoe Vale, Melbourne
Major suburbs / towns Gladstone Park, Essendon, Pascoe Vale
Highway system
Highways in Australia
National HighwayFreeways in Australia
Highways in Victoria

The Tullamarine Freeway is an urban freeway in Melbourne, Australia, linking Melbourne Airport to the central business district.


The Tullamarine Freeway is one of the oldest freeways in Melbourne. The first stage of construction was completed in the financial year 1965/66 between Mickleham Road and ‘the Tullamarine Jetport Terminal area’ (Melbourne Airport),[4] with the initial 4.5 mile section between Melbourne Airport and Lancefield Road at Essendon Airport officially opening early 1968. This section was originally referred to as the 'Tullamarine By-pass Road'.[5] From Essendon, a new section heading east to Pascoe Vale and then south along the Moonee Ponds Creek to Mt Alexander Road, Flemington was opened to traffic in 1970.[6] This new section replaced Mount Alexander Road as the main route to the city. In 1979, the section of Lancefield Road running along the western edge of Essendon Airport was upgraded to freeway standard, completing the freeway.[7]

The freeway was initially designated F81 for the whole stretch from Tullamarine to Flemington. The freeway was originally designated in the 1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan as the F14 Freeway corridor.

With its completion, city-bound heavy vehicles from Hume Highway were diverted here via Pascoe Vale Road. In the 1990s, the completion of the Western Ring Road increased traffic tremendously. It was only relieved by the completion of CityLink, widening the freeway to 8 lanes (two of these being transit lanes) and extending it south to the West Gate Freeway. The improved sections are now tolled.

The freeway is used by Skybus Super Shuttle services to Melbourne Airport, and in 2002 the Victorian government contributed $3 million to a $10 million plan to expand and improve these services, after a feasibility study into an airport rail link found the number of passengers using a train would not make the scheme economically viable.[8]

The Calder Freeway interchange was completed earlier than expected in mid-2007, which underwent dramatic roadworks to alleviate congestion. All works are now complete, with the end result being the decommissioning and removal of two off-ramps, an additional two lanes inbound, and dedicated Bulla Road-Calder Freeway spurs to eliminate weaving, notorious for many accidents in the area.

Another project now completed is a new bridge and northern entrance to the Essendon Airport through the interchange of Melrose Drive, to provide easy access for the people living in the northern suburbs to access the Essendon Airport district.

Timeline of construction[edit]

  • 1965/66 - Melbourne Airport (‘Tullamarine By-pass Road’). 1.8 miles of 4-lane dual carriageways completed from Mickleham Road to ‘the Tullamarine Jetport Terminal area’. At this stage, the airport interchange, bridges and access roads were still under construction.[4]
  • 1967/68 – Still referred to as the Tullamarine By-pass Road. 4.5 miles opened to traffic between Essendon Airport and Tullamarine Airport.[5]
  • 1970 – 11 miles opened 3 February 1970, by Sir Henry Bolte, MLA, Premier of Victoria. Including 2 miles from Bell Street to the southern boundary of Essendon Airport and 5 miles from Essendon Airport to Tullamarine Airport. Total cost: $14.94m.[6]
  • 1979 - 1.6 km along western boundary of Essendon Airport (previously Lancefield Road) upgraded to freeway standard. Opened 18 December 1979, by Minister for Transport, the Hon Robert Maclellan MLA, at a cost of $7.8m.[7]

Route description[edit]

Tullamarine Freeway northbound near the Calder Freeway interchange
e-TAG toll gantries on the CityLink section of the Tullamarine Freeway

Today the official start of the freeway is at Pascoe Vale Road, as the original southern sections was upgraded in the late 1990s as part of CityLink. Here it is a three lane, high quality dual carriageway, running along the south side of Essendon Airport and the Direct Factory Outlets shopping complex, the former main airport of Melbourne. At the Calder Freeway interchange, staying to the right will lead you to the next section of the Tullamarine Freeway.

The next section is quite narrow, with two lanes running either way and a concrete barrier (later grass and shrubbery) in the middle of the road. Melrose Drive runs alongside its airport-bound side. This section is frequently congested due to the combination of freight traffic from the Hume Highway, which is accessed from the Western Ring Road interchange, and the traffic from the airport. After the ring road interchange, the traffic is slightly better, leading to the Melbourne Airport off ramp, after which the freeway ends.

The travel time on the Tullamarine Freeway in both directions, is 16 minutes. (Inbound: 4 minutes between Melbourne Airport and the Western Ring Road, 5 minutes between the Western Ring Road and Bell Street and 7 minutes between Bell Street and the West Gate Freeway. Outbound: The exact same, except 8 minutes from the West Gate Freeway to Pascoe Vale Road and 3 minutes from the Western Ring Road to Melbourne Airport).

The usual peak period travel time, is between 19–30 minutes. It's usually around 19 minutes for the majority of the daylight hours inbound, because there is only one lane to merge with the West Gate Freeway city bound, hence slowing traffic over the Bolte Bridge section. However, during times of extreme congestion, including being residual due to an incident, the travel time can well exceed half an hour.

Exits and interchanges[edit]

LGA Location km[9] Mile Destinations Notes
Hume Melbourne Airport 0 0 Sunbury Road (C743) north / Centre Road – Sunbury, Melbourne Airport North-western freeway terminus: continues as Sunbury Road; northbound entry from and southbound exit to Centre Road, and northbound entry from airport
0.95 0.59 Centre Road – Melbourne Airport Northbound exit and southbound entry only
Mercer Drive – Melbourne Airport terminal 4 Northbound exit and southbound entry only
WestmeadowsTullamarineGladstone Park tripoint 3.3 2.1 Mickleham Road (State Route 39 south / State Route 48 north) – Tullamarine, Broadmeadows
Hume–Moreland boundary Tullamarine–Gladstone Park–Gowanbrae tripoint 5.1 3.2 Western Ring Road (M80) – Seymour, Sydney, Bendigo, Geelong, Adelaide No access north-eastbound to southbound or northbound to south-westbound
Moonee Valley Airport WestStrathmore HeightsEssendon Fields tripoint 6.3 3.9 Melrose Drive north-west / Wirraway Road south-east – Airport West, Essendon Airport No entry northbound; southbound exit to Wirraway Road only
Airport West–Essendon Fields–NiddrieEssendon North quadripoint 8.6 5.3 Calder Freeway (M79 / State Route 40) – Keilor, Bendigo Partial Y interchange: South-eastbound entry and north-westbound exit only
Essendon Fields–Essendon North–Strathmore tripoint 9.5 5.9 Bulla Road (State Route 37 south) – Essendon, Moonee Ponds, Niddrie
Strathmore 10.9–
Bell Street (State Route 40) – Coburg, Heidelberg Eastbound exit and westbound entry only
11.3 7.0 CityLink (State Route 43) – Melbourne City Centre South-eastern freeway terminus: continues south as CityLink
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Freeway Route Numbering System, Main Roads Victoria. Retrieved on 4 September 2013.[self-published source]
  2. ^ Metropolitan Route Numbering System - 1989 Changes, Main Roads Victoria. Retrieved on 4 September 2013.[self-published source]
  3. ^ National Routes, Main Roads Victoria. Retrieved on 4 September 2013.[self-published source]
  4. ^ a b Country Roads Board Victoria. Fifty-third Annual Report for the Year Ended 30th June, 1966, Melbourne, Victoria: Government Printer, 1967. p. 11, p. 47
  5. ^ a b Country Roads Board Victoria. Fifty-Fifth Annual Report: for the year ended 30th June, 1968, Burwood, Victoria: Brown, Prior, Anderson, 1969. p. 33
  6. ^ a b Country Roads Board Victoria. Fifty-Seventh Annual Report: for the year ended 30th June, 1970, Burwood, Victoria: Brown, Prior, Anderson, 1971. p. 1
  7. ^ a b Country Roads Board Victoria. 67th Annual Report. 1979-1980, Kew, Victoria: Country Roads Board Victoria, 1980. p. 9
  8. ^ Better buses replace dumped rail link, The Age, 12 June 2002.
  9. ^ Google Inc. "Tullamarine Freeway". Google Maps (Map). Cartography by Google, Inc. https://www.google.com.au/maps/dir/-37.6694367,144.855746/-37.7336357,144.9243888/@-37.7140526,144.887392,13z/data=!4m9!4m8!1m5!3m4!1m2!1d144.8844165!2d-37.6929655!3s0x6ad65bd2ab7f1693:0x7fafbd87e02fd816!1m0!3e0. Retrieved 5 June 2014.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°41′45″S 144°53′11″E / 37.69591°S 144.88632°E / -37.69591; 144.88632