Newell Highway

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Newell Highway

General information
Length1,058 km (657 mi)[1]
GazettedAugust 1928 (as Main Roads 56 and 229)[2]
March 1938 (as State Highway 17)[3]
Route number(s)
  • National Highway A39 (2005–present)
    (Goondiwindi–NSW/QLD border)
  • A39 (2013–present)
    (NSW/QLD border–NSW/VIC border)
  • Concurrencies:
  • B64 (2013–present)
    (Marsden–West Wyalong)
  • B94 (2013–present)
route number
  • National Highway 39
  • National Route 39 (1962–1992)
Major junctions
North end Cunningham Highway
Goondiwindi, Queensland
South end Goulburn Valley Highway
NSW/VIC border
Major settlementsMoree, Narrabri, Coonabarabran, Gilgandra, Dubbo, Parkes, Forbes, West Wyalong, Tocumwal
Highway system

Newell Highway is a national highway in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. It provides the major road link between southeastern Queensland and Victoria via central NSW and as such carries large amounts of freight. At 1,058 kilometres (657 mi)[1][4] in length, the Newell is the longest highway in NSW,[5] and passes through fifteen local government areas.[6]

The highway is named in honour of H. H. Newell, the first Commissioner for Main Roads in New South Wales (1932–1941).[7] It is designated route A39 for its entire length.


From its northern terminus at Goondiwindi in Queensland, where it meets the Cunningham and Leichhardt Highways, and forms the southward extension of Cunningham Highway from Warwick and Brisbane, the Newell runs south across the Queensland-New South Wales border through Boggabilla, Moree, Narrabri, Coonabarabran, Gilgandra, Dubbo, Parkes, Forbes, West Wyalong, Narrandera, Jerilderie, and Finley. Its southern terminus is where it crosses the Murray River (part of the border between New South Wales and Victoria) at Tocumwal and becomes Goulburn Valley Highway in Victoria,[8] to eventually join Hume Highway at Seymour. The highway runs generally north–south, parallel to the coast of NSW but about 400 kilometres (250 mi) inland, and is the most direct road link from Victoria to southeastern Queensland, bypassing the more urbanised and congested coastal areas of the state, and in doing so avoiding the difficult coastal topography of the New South Wales North Coast, traversed by Pacific Highway.

The terrain that the highway traverses is generally flat to gently undulating, with long, straight sections joined by the occasional curved section. However, passing through the Warrumbungle Range, there are steeper grades and tighter curves than on the rest of the highway.[6]

The Newell intersects the following highways: Bruxner (at Boggabilla), Carnarvon and Gwydir (at Moree), Kamilaroi (at Narrabri), Oxley (east) (north of Coonabarabran), Castlereagh and Oxley (west) (at Gilgandra), Golden and Mitchell (at Dubbo), Mid-Western (east) at Marsden), Mid-Western (west) at West Wyalong), Sturt (at Gillenbah) and Riverina (at Finley).

Newell Highway is located entirely west of the Great Dividing Range, running largely along the foot of the western slopes of the range, and as such crosses nine major rivers, all west-flowing from the Great Dividing Range. From north to south these rivers are the Macintyre (at Goondiwindi), the Gwydir (10 km north of Moree), the Mehi (at Moree), the Namoi (near Narrabri), the Castlereagh (at Coonabarabran and again at Gilgandra), the Macquarie (at Dubbo), the Lachlan (at Forbes), the Murrumbidgee (at Narrandera), and the Murray (at Tocumwal). Some sections of the Newell Highway are subject to periodic flooding from these rivers,[4] particularly north of Moree,[9] at Dubbo,[10] and south of Narrandera.[11][12]

Other than short four-lane lengths within some of the urban areas through which it passes, Newell Highway is a single carriageway, two-lane road, although there are many overtaking lanes, with further overtaking lanes under construction for the next four years from 2021.[13]

Traffic volumes along Newell Highway vary from around 1,200 to 4,000 vehicles per day in rural areas. In Dubbo, the largest urban centre through which the highway passes, average daily traffic volumes are in the order of 20,000 vehicles a day. Many heavy vehicles use the Newell Highway – between 26 per cent and 52 per cent of all traffic, depending on the point along the highway.[6] At one point in the Riverina region of NSW, the highway carries approximately 1,900 vehicles daily, of which about 32 per cent is heavy vehicles;[14] while at another point in the north of the state, which carries the largest number of heavy vehicles, on average a truck passes every 60 seconds, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.[15] The speed limit on most rural sections of the highway is 110 km/h (68 mph).[8]


Before its declaration, Newell Highway existed as a collection of unrelated roads, many gazetted as separate entities. The passing of the Main Roads Act of 1924[16] through the Parliament of New South Wales provided for the declaration of Main Roads, roads partially funded by the State government through the Main Roads Board (later the Department of Main Roads, and eventually Transport for NSW). Main Road No. 6 was declared as part of Mid-Western Highway from West Wyalong and Marsden,[2] Main Road No. 11 was declared as part of Oxley Highway from Gilgandra to Coonabarabran,[2] Main Road No. 56 was declared from Gilgandra, Dubbo, Parkes and Forbes (and continuing northwards via Coonamble eventually to Walgett, and southwards via Cowra, Yass and Canberra eventually to the intersection with Queanbeyan-Braidwood Road, today Kings Highway, at Queanbeyan),[2] Main Road No. 63 was declared from Boggabilla to the state border with Queensland at Goondiwindi (and continuing southwards via Yetman to Warialda and Bingara to the intersection with Great Northern Highway, today New England Highway, at Tamworth),[2] Main Road No. 126 was declared from Boggabilla via Moree and Bellata to Narrabri (and continuing southeast via Boggabri and Gunnedah to Qurindi),[2] Main Road No. 229 was declared from Wagga-Hay Road (today Sturt Highway) in Narrandera, via Jerilderie and Finley to the state border with Victoria at Tocumwal,[2] Main Road No. 235 was declared from Forbes to Marsden (and continuing southwards via Morangarell and Stockinbingal to Cootamundra),[2] and Main Road No. 243 was declared from Narranderra to Grong Grong (and continuing eastwards via Coolamon, Cootamundra and Harden to Bowning).[2] With the passing of the Main Roads (Amendment) Act of 1929[17] to provide for additional declarations of State Highways and Trunk Roads, these were amended to State Highways 6 and 11, Trunk Roads 56 and 63 and Main Roads 126 and 229 and 235 and 243 on 8 April 1929.

The Department of Main Roads, which had succeeded the MRB in 1932, later declared Trunk Road 72 from the intersection with State Highway 12 (Gwydir Highway) in Moree via Bellata to Narrabri (and continuing southeast via Boggabri to Gunnedah) and Main Road 338 from Moree to Boggabilla, on 18 July 1933;[18] the northern end of Main Road 126 was truncated to meet State Highway 11 (Oxley Highway) at Gunnedah. State Highway 17 was declared on 16 March 1938, from the intersection with State Highway 16 (later known as Bruxner Highway) at Boggabilla (which subsumed Trunk Road 63, declared on the same day[19]) to the intersection with Gwydir Highway at Moree (subsuming Main Road 338), then from Moree via Narrabri to the intersection with Oxley Highway near Coonabarabran, then from Gilgandra via Dubbo, Parks and Forbes to the intersection with Mid-Western Highway at Marsden, then from West Wyalong via Ardlethan to the intersection with Sturt Highway at Narrendera, then from Narrandera, Jerilderie and Finley to the state border with Victoria at Tocumwal, subsuming Main Road 229;[3] the northern ends of Trunk Roads 56 and 72 were truncated to meet State Highway 17 at Forbes and Narrabri respectively, Main Road 235 was truncated to meet State Highway 17 at Marsden, and Main Road 243 was truncated to meet State Highway 17 at Grong Grong, as a result.[3] State Highway 17 was named Newell Highway on 2 July 1941,[20] in honour of H. H. Newell, Commissioner for Main Roads 1932-41, following his death in office.[7]

At the time of the gazettal of State Highway 17, it followed existing roads as far as possible, but between Coonabarabran and Narrabri and between Narrandera and West Wyalong[5] no road existed. The section through the Pilliga Scrub between Coonabarabran and Narrabri was constructed during 1941-42 as a wartime defence project, and the section between Narrandera and West Wyalong was constructed in 1946–49. In 1952 the ultimate gazetted route of the highway between Narrandera and West Wyalong was altered from its original 1938 gazetted route.

Some sections of Newell Highway run concurrent along other highways. From north to south these are the Gwydir at Moree, the Kamilaroi at Narrabri, the Oxley (from 10 km north of Coonabarabran to Gilgandra), the Castlereagh through Gilgandra, the Mid-Western between Marsden and West Wyalong, and the Riverina (185 m through Finley). Previously, the declaration of Newell Highway was discontinuous, breaking where it shared concurrencies with these highways. As a consequence of its declaration as a National Highway in 1992, to simplify funding and administrative purposes, it was redeclared to form one continuous highway on 15 January 1993, breaking other highway declarations it shares concurrencies with.[21]

The passing of the Roads Act of 1993[22] through the Parliament of New South Wales updated road classifications and the way they could be declared within New South Wales. Under this act, Newell Highway today retains its declaration as Highway 17, from the state border with Queensland at Goondiwindi to the state border Victoria at Tocumwall.[23]

Newell Highway was signed National Route 39 across its entire length in 1965. The Whitlam government introduced the federal National Roads Act 1974,[24] where roads declared as a National Highway were still the responsibility of the states for road construction and maintenance, but were fully compensated by the Federal government for money spent on approved projects.[24]: S7  As an important interstate link between the capitals of Queensland and Victoria, Newell Highway was declared a National Highway in 1992, and was consequently re-allocated National Highway 39. With both states' conversion to the newer alphanumeric system between 2005 and 2013, its route number was updated to route A39 for the highway within Queensland in 2005, and eventually within New South Wales in 2013.[25]

Completion of the sealing of the full length of the highway occurred in 1972.

Town centre bypasses have been provided in Moree, Dubbo, Parkes and West Wyalong (heavy vehicle route). A town bypass at Ardlethan has also been constructed.

Major intersections[edit]

QueenslandGoondiwindiGoondiwindi00.0 Cunningham Highway (National Highway A39 north) – Warwick, Brisbane
to Leichhardt Highway (National Highway A39, A5) – Toowoomba, Miles, Rockhampton
Northern terminus of highway at roundabout
National Highway A39 continues north along Cunningham Highway
Marshall Street (west), to Barwon Highway (State Route 85) – Goondiwindi, St George
Kildonan Road (Tourist Route 3 east) – Yelarbon, Border Rivers Tourist Drive
10.62 Newell Highway (National Highway A39)Southern terminus of National Highway A39
State borderQueensland – New South Wales state border
New South WalesMacintyre RiverBridge over river
Moree PlainsBoggabilla Newell Highway (A39)Northern terminus of route A39
85.0Bruxner Way – Yetman, Tenterfield, Northern Rivers coast
Gwydir River12276Bridge over river
Moree PlainsMoree13181 Boggabilla Road (Gwydir Highway) (B76 west) – CollarenebriRoute B76 western concurrency terminus
Mehi River13383Bridge over river
Moree PlainsMoree13383 Alice Street (Gwydir Highway) (B76 east) – WarialdaRoute B76 eastern concurrency terminus
NarrabriNarrabri232144Kamilaroi Highway (west) – Wee Waa, Walgett
Namoi River235146Bridge over river
NarrabriNarrabri236147 Kamilaroi Highway (B51 east) – Boggabri, GunnedahRoundabout
WarrumbungleCoonabarabran348216 Oxley Highway (B56 east) – Gunnedah
GilgandraTooraweenah407253Tooraweenah–Mendooran Road – Tooraweenah
Gilgandra441274 Castlereagh Highway (B55 east) – Mendooran, DunedooRoute B55 eastern concurrency terminus
Castlereagh River442275Jack Renshaw Bridge
GilgandraGilgandra442275 Castlereagh Highway (B55 west), to Oxley Highway (west) – Coonamble, WarrenRoute B55 western concurrency terminus
Talbragar River501311Bridge over river
DubboDubbo506314 Erskine Street, to Golden Highway (B84) – Dunedoo, MuswellbrookT-intersection
Macquarie River507315Emile Serisier Bridge
DubboDubbo508316 Mitchell Highway (A32) – Wellington, Narromine
NarromineTomingley559347Tomingley–Narromine Road – Narromine
ParkesParkes626389Dalton Street (Henry Parkes Way) (west) – Condobolin
627390Grenfell Street (Henry Parkes Way) (east) – Orange
ForbesForbes659409Camp Street, to Lachlan Valley Way (east) – Cowra, and to Henry Lawson Way – Grenfell)Lachlan Valley Way northern concurrency terminus
Lake Forbes660410Oxley Bridge
Lachlan River661411Bridge over river
ForbesBundaburrah665413Lachlan Valley Way (west) – CondobolinLachlan Valley Way southern concurrency terminus
BlandMarsden726451 Mid-Western Highway (B64 east) – GrenfellRoute B64 eastern concurrency terminus
Wyalong758471 Barmedman Road (Goldfields Way) (B85) – Temora
West Wyalong763474 Mid-Western Highway (B64 west) – HayRoute B64 western concurrency terminus
CoolamonMirrool Junction813505 Burley Griffin Way (B94 east) – TemoraConcurrency with route B94
Ardlethan831516 Burley Griffin Way (B94 west) – Griffith
NarranderaGrong Grong876544Ganmain Road – Coolamon
Narrandera898558Irrigation Way – Griffith
Irrigation Canal898558Bridge over the canal
Murrumbidgee River899559Narrandera Bridge
NarranderaGillenbah900560 Sturt Highway (A20 southeast) – Wagga WaggaConcurrency with route A20
901560 Sturt Highway (A20 northwest) – Darlington Point, Hay, Mildura
JerilderieJerilderie Junction991616 Kidman Way – Griffith
Billabong Creek1,005624Bridge over creek
JerilderieJerilderie1,007626Conargo Road – Conargo
BerriganFinley1,042647 Tuppal Street (Riverina Highway) (B58 west) – DeniliquinConcurrency with route B58
1,042.5647.8 Berrigan Road (Riverina Highway) (B58 east) – Berrigan, Albury
Tocumwal1,057657 Newell Highway (A39)Southern terminus of Newell Highway
Murray RiverEdward Hillson Bridge
State border1,058657New South Wales – Victoria state border
VictoriaMoiraKoonoomoo Goulburn Valley Highway (A39) – Shepparton, SeymourNorthern terminus of Gouldburn Valley Highway, route A39 continues south
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Google (16 February 2023). "Newell Highway" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 16 February 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Main Roads Act, 1924-1927". Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales. No. 110. 17 August 1928. pp. 3814–20. Archived from the original on 3 August 2022. Retrieved 1 August 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ a b c "Main Roads Act, 1924-1937". Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales. No. 58. National Library of Australia. 14 April 1938. pp. 1525–6. Archived from the original on 29 August 2022. Retrieved 29 August 2022.
  4. ^ a b "Roads Minister says duplicating Newell Highway is on state government's agenda". ABC News. Australia. 7 May 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Newell Highway: History and Development". OzRoads. Retrieved 22 March 2015.[self-published source]
  6. ^ a b c "Draft Newell Highway Corridor Strategy" (PDF) (PDF). Roads & Maritime Services, Government of New South Wales. April 2014. pp. 8–9, 11. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  7. ^ a b "JOURNAL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF MAIN ROADS, NEW SOUTH WALES" (PDF). Main Roads. 43 (2). Sydney: OpenGov NSW: 38–9. December 1977.
  8. ^ a b "Newell Highway: State Highway No. 17". OzRoads. Retrieved 22 March 2015.[self-published source]
  9. ^ "Heavy rain closes roads in NSW north-west". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australian Associated Press. 28 November 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  10. ^ Howe, Marc (12 May 2014). "NSW's Newell Highway Slated for Upgrade". Sourceable. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  11. ^ "Travelling? Check road closures here". The Land. 19 March 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  12. ^ "Highway flood plan (video)". Prime 7. 31 May 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  13. ^ "Newell Highway Program Alliance". Transport for NSW. 30 January 2023. Retrieved 16 February 2023.
  14. ^ "Improvements to the Newell Highway at Grong Grong". Projects: South West NSW. Roads & Maritime Services, Government of New South Wales. 2015. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  15. ^ Brown, Emma (8 May 2014). "Draft Newell Highway Strategy released". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  16. ^ State of New South Wales, An Act to provide for the better construction, maintenance, and financing of main roads; to provide for developmental roads; to constitute a Main Roads Board Archived 11 August 2022 at the Wayback Machine 10 November 1924
  17. ^ State of New South Wales, An Act to amend the Main Roads Act, 1924-1927; to confer certain further powers upon the Main Roads Board; to amend the Local Government Act, 1919, and certain other Acts; to validate certain payments and other matters; and for purposes connected therewith. Archived 12 August 2022 at the Wayback Machine 8 April 1929
  18. ^ "Main Roads Act, 1924-1931". Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales. No. 119. National Library of Australia. 4 August 1933. p. 2882. Archived from the original on 17 October 2022. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  19. ^ "Main Roads Act, 1924-1937". Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales. No. 46. National Library of Australia. 25 March 1938. pp. 1222–3. Archived from the original on 29 August 2022. Retrieved 29 August 2022.
  20. ^ "Main Roads Act, 1924-1939". Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales. No. 89. National Library of Australia. 11 July 1941. p. 2483. Archived from the original on 29 August 2022. Retrieved 29 August 2022.
  21. ^ "State Roads Act 1986". Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales. No. 5. National Library of Australia. 15 January 1993. p. 125. Archived from the original on 29 August 2022. Retrieved 29 August 2022.
  22. ^ State of New South Wales, An Act to make provision with respect to the roads of New South Wales; to repeal the State Roads Act 1986, the Crown and Other Roads Act 1990 and certain other enactments; and for other purposes. Archived 11 August 2022 at the Wayback Machine 10 November 1924
  23. ^ Transport for NSW (August 2022). "Schedule of Classified Roads and Unclassified Regional Roads" (PDF). Government of New South Wales. Retrieved 1 August 2022.
  24. ^ a b National Roads Act 1974 (Cth)
  25. ^ "Road number and name changes in NSW" (PDF). Roads & Maritime Services. Government of New South Wales. 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2016.

External links[edit]