Great Alpine Road

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Great Alpine Road

Map of the Great Alpine Road in eastern Victoria
General information
Length304 km (189 mi)[1]
Opened1923 (as Alpine Road)
1948 (as Ovens Highway)
1996 (as Great Alpine Road)
Route number(s) B500 (1996–present)
route number
  • State Route 156 (1986–1996)
    (Wangaratta-Omeo, as Ovens Highway and Alpine Road)
  • State Route 195 (1986–1996)
    (Omeo-Bairnsdale, as Omeo Highway)
Major junctions
Northwest end Old Hume Highway
Wangaratta, Victoria
Southeast end Princes Highway
Bairnsdale, Victoria
Major settlementsMyrtleford, Ovens, Bright, Harrietville, Mount Hotham, Dinner Plain, Omeo, Swifts Creek, Ensay}, Bruthen
Highway system

The Great Alpine Road (B500)[2][3] is a country tourist road in Victoria, Australia, running from Wangaratta in the north to Bairnsdale in the east, and passing through the Victorian Alps. The road was given its current name because it was considered the mountain equivalent to Victoria's world-famous Great Ocean Road in the south-west of the state.[citation needed] The road usually remains open during winter; however, vehicles travelling between Harrietville and Omeo are required to carry diamond-pattern[4] snow chains during the declared snow season.[5]


The Great Alpine Road[6] links Victoria's North East with Gippsland, winding through mountains, valleys and forests, and past rivers, vineyards and farms. At a length of 304 kilometres (189 mi), it is Australia's highest year-round accessible sealed road. The section over Mount Hotham rises to an altitude of 1,840 metres (6,040 ft) AMSL.[7] It is blanketed with snow during winter months and must be cleared on a daily basis. Extreme weather conditions can sometimes still result in the road being closed between Harrietville and Omeo.

The road itself has existed since colonial times in some form, but was unsealed for much of its history; its last portions were sealed between Slatey Cutting and Dinner Plain in the 1996-97 financial year (when the road was renamed the Great Alpine Road),[8] and the 12km between Dinner Plain and Horsehair Plain in the 1997-98 financial year.[9]


In 1923 the Victorian Country Roads Board (CRB) took responsibility for the Alpine Road between Harrietville and Omeo, and appointed William Benjamin (Bill) Spargo (1888–1959) as supervisor.[10] He lived in a stone cottage at Hotham Heights, which the CRB expanded, at his request, to accommodate up to twenty visiting skiers. From 1925 the premises operated as a guest-house, Hotham Cottage (Hotham Heights Chalet). This was the forerunner of the Hotham Alpine Resort.

The passing of the Highways and Vehicles Act of 1924[11] through the Parliament of Victoria provided for the declaration of State Highways, roads two-thirds financed by the State government through the Country Roads Board (later VicRoads). The Ovens Highway was declared a State Highway within Victoria in the 1947/48 financial year,[12] from Wangaratta via Myrtleford to Bright (for a total of 47.5 miles); before this declaration, the road was referred to as (The) Alpine Road.[13] The highway was eventually extended from Bright further along Alpine Road to Harrietville in September 1993.[14]

The Ovens Highway, and the remainder of Alpine Road beyond, was signed as State Route 156 between Wangaratta and Omeo in 1986. With Victoria's conversion to the newer alphanumeric system in the late 1990s, its former route number was replaced with route B500 in late 1996,[8] with the Ovens Highway and Alpine Road from Wangaratta to Omeo, and the southern section of the Omeo Highway from Omeo to Bruthen[15] and then to Bairnsdale, renamed the Great Alpine Road at the same time.[8]

The passing of the Road Management Act 2004[16] granted the responsibility of overall management and development of Victoria's major arterial roads to VicRoads: in 2004, VicRoads re-declared the road as Great Alpine Road (Arterial #4005), beginning at Wangaratta Road at Wangaratta and ending at Princes Highway in Bairnsdale.[17]

Gallery of some notable sights[edit]

Major intersections, towns and resorts[edit]

WangarattaWangaratta0.00.0 Parfitt Road (Wangaratta Road) – Wangaratta, Yarrawonga, WodongaNorthwestern terminus of road and route B500
East Wangaratta4.22.6 Hume Highway – Melbourne, Seymour, Wodonga, Sydney
Tarrawingee11.06.8 Beechworth-Wangaratta Road (C315) – Beechworth, Yackandandah
Bowmans Forest33.720.9 Buckland Gap Road (C524) – Beechworth
AlpineGapsted39.424.5 Snow Road – Milawa, Glenrowan
Myrtleford44.827.8 Myrtleford-Yackandandah Road (C527) – Yackandandah
45.228.1 Buffalo River Road (C526) – Lake Buffalo
Ovens50.131.1 Happy Valley Road (C534) – Mount Beauty
Porepunkah69.943.4 Mount Buffalo Road (C535) – Mount BuffaloRoundabout
Bright75.747.0Anderson Street – Bright, to Morses Creek Road – Wandiligong
Germantown81.350.5 Tawonga Gap Road (C536) – Mount Beauty
Harrietville100.762.6Mill Road – Harrietville
Hotham Heights121.075.2Dargo High Plains Road – Dargo, BairnsdaleSummer season only road
Mount Hotham132.482.3Davenport Drive – Mount Hotham
Dinner Plain142.288.4Horseshoe Circuit – Dinner Plain
Cobungra152.594.8 Mount Hotham Airport Road – Mount Hotham Airport
East GippslandOmeo182.7113.5Cassilis Road – Cassilis
186.3115.8 Omeo Highway (C543) – Benambra, Tallangatta
Swifts Creek211.9131.7Cassilis Road – Cassilis
Ensay230.9143.5Ensay-Doctors Flat Road – Ensay
Bruthen281.2174.7 Bruthen-Nowa Nowa Road (C620) – Buchan, Orbost
Wiseleigh284.5176.8 Sarsfield-Tambo Upper Road (C605) – Swan Reach
Lucknow303.7188.7 Princes Highway (A1) – Lakes Entrance, Orbost, Bairnsdale, MelbourneRoundabout; southeastern terminus of road and route B500
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
  •       Route transition

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Google (10 October 2021). "Great Alpine Road" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  2. ^ "Map NE Victoria" (PDF). Vic Roads. p. 16. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 August 2008. Retrieved 9 February 2009.
  3. ^ State Route 156 – Ovens Highway, Main Roads Victoria. Retrieved on 23 September 2013.
  4. ^ Mount Hotham, Wheel Chains
  5. ^ Travel Victoria, Great Alpine Road
  6. ^ "Great Alpine Road". Tourism Victoria. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
  7. ^ "Mt Hotham Section". 2009 Google – Map data 2009 MapData Sciences Pty Ltd, PSMA. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
  8. ^ a b c "VicRoads Annual Report 1996-97". VicRoads. Melbourne: Victorian Government Library Service. 27 August 1997. pp. 17, 24.
  9. ^ "VicRoads Annual Report 1997-98". VicRoads. Melbourne: Victorian Government Library Service. 31 August 1998. p. 36.
  10. ^ Garden, Donald S (2002). "Spargo, William Benjamin (Bill) (1888–1959)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  11. ^ State of Victoria, An Act to make further provision with respect to Highways and Country Roads Motor Cars and Traction Engines and for other purposes 30 December 1924
  12. ^ "Country Roads Board Victoria. Thirty-Fifth Annual Report: for the year ended 30 June 1948". Country Roads Board of Victoria. Melbourne: Victorian Government Library Service. 1 November 1948. p. 7.
  13. ^ "Country Roads Board Victoria. Twenty-Sixth Annual Report: for the year ended 30 June 1939". Country Roads Board of Victoria. Melbourne: Victorian Government Library Service. 10 November 1939. p. 105.
  14. ^ "Victorian Government Gazette". State Library of Victoria. 2 September 1993. p. 2458. Retrieved 30 December 2021.
  15. ^ 8423 Omeo, Victoria, Topographic Map. National Topographic Map Series (1 ed.). Commonwealth of Australia. 1982.
  16. ^ State Government of Victoria. "Road Management Act 2004" (PDF). Government of Victoria. Archived (PDF) from the original on 19 October 2021. Retrieved 19 October 2021.
  17. ^ a b VicRoads. "VicRoads – Register of Public Roads (Part A) 2015" (PDF). Government of Victoria. pp. 65–6. Archived from the original on 1 May 2020. Retrieved 19 October 2021.

External links[edit]

"Great Alpine Road – Tourism Victoria". Retrieved 21 July 2011.
"Australian Traveller". Retrieved 10 February 2009.
"Great Alpine Road – Visit Victoria (official tourism website)". Retrieved 20 June 2015.
"Sydney – Melbourne Touring". Archived from the original on 23 February 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
"Victoria's Alpine High Country". Retrieved 10 February 2009.
"NRMA Motoring Services". Retrieved 10 February 2009.
"Discover East Gippsland". Archived from the original on 25 April 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2009.