Newell Highway

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Newell Highway

General information
Length1,058 km (657 mi)[1]
Route number(s)
  • National Highway A39 (2005-present)
    (Goondiwindi-NSW/QLD border)
  • A39 (2013-present)
    (NSW/QLD border-NSW/VIC border)
  • Concurrencies:
  • Mid-Western Highway
    (Caragabal-West Wyalong)
  • Burley Griffin Way
route number
  • National Highway 39
    (1992-2005) (QLD)
    (1992-2013) (NSW)
  • National Route 39 (1962-1992)
Major junctions
North end Leichhardt Highway
Goondiwindi, Queensland
South end Goulburn Valley Highway
NSW/VIC border
Major settlementsMoree, Narrabri, Coonabarabran, Gilgandra, Dubbo, West Wyalong, Narrandera, Finley, Tocumwal
Highway system

The 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) in length, the Newell is the longest highway in NSW,[2][3] and passes through fifteen local government areas.[1] The highway is part of Australian national route 39 and was signposted accordingly until 2013. Since then it has been signposted as NSW route A39.

Traffic volumes along the 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.[1] 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;[4] 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.[5]

The highway is named in honour of H. H. Newell, the first Commissioner for Main Roads in New South Wales (1932-1941).[6] It carries NSW route A39 signage for its entire length.

Other than short four-lane lengths within some of the urban areas through which it passes, the Newell Highway is a single carriageway, two-lane road, although there are many overtaking lanes, with further overtaking lanes under construction up until 2021 (see Newell Highway Alliance Program"

The speed limit on most rural sections of the highway is 110 km/h (68 mph).[7]


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.[1]

The highway runs generally north–south, parallel to the coast of NSW, 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 traversed by the Pacific Highway.

From its northern terminus at Goondiwindi on the Queensland-NSW border, where it meets the Cunningham and Leichhardt Highways, and forms the southward extension of the 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 meets the Goulburn Valley Highway in Victoria.[7] The Goulburn Valley Highway forms the next section of national route 39 south towards Melbourne via Shepparton and Seymour, where it joins the Hume Highway.

The Newell intersect 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).

The 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,[3] particularly north of Moree,[8] at Dubbo,[9] and south of Narrandera.[10][11]

Naming and numbering[edit]

The route now known as the Newell Highway was proclaimed as State Highway 17 in March 1938, and in July 1941 named in honour of H. H. Newell (Commissioner for Main Roads 1932-1941) following his death in office.[7][6] 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[2] 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.

Under the original national road numbering scheme in 1954, national route 39 was to run from the Hume Highway (national route 30, subsequently changed to 31) at Seymour, via Shepparton Tocumwal, Finley, Narrandera, West Wyalong, Forbes, Parkes, Dubbo, Gilgandra, Coonabarabran, Narrabri, Moree, Goondiwindi, Moonie, Miles and Banana to Rockhampton, to connect with the Bruce Highway (national route 1). Consequently, the Newell Highway, as part of this route, was signposted in 1965 with the standard black and white national route markers. On 15 January 1993, following the passage of the Australian Land Transport Development Act 1988, the Australian Government assumed financial responsibility from the NSW government for the upkeep and improvement of the Newell Highway. It also assumed responsibility for the onward connectors from either end of the Newell Highway - the Goulburn Valley Highway in Victoria and the Cunningham Highway in Queensland. The black and white national route shields were then replaced with green and gold shields (signifying that the highway is a nationally rather than state-funded route). These in turn were replaced in 2013 by the alpha-numerical shields of the NSW state-based numbering system.

Some sections of the route of the Newell Highway are shared with the routes of 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).

Route development[edit]

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]

QueenslandGoondiwindiGoondiwindi Marshall Street west to Barwon Highway (State Route 85) – Goondiwindi town centre, St George

Cunningham Highway (National Highway A39) north to Leichhardt Highway (National Highway A39) and Cunningham Highway (National Route 42) – Brisbane, Rockhampton, Warwick

Kildonan Road (Tourist Drive 3) east – Border Rivers Tourist Drive
Northern highway terminus at roundabout
00.0 Newell Highway Route transition: South end of National Highway A39, north end of A39
Queensland – New South Wales state border10.62Queensland – New South Wales state border
New South WalesMacintyre River21.2Bridge over river
Moree PlainsBoggabilla85.0Bruxner HighwayNorthern 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 – Wee Waa, Walgett
Namoi River235146Bridge over river
NarrabriNarrabri236147 Kamilaroi Highway (B51 east) – Boggabri, GunnedahRoundabout
WarrumbungleCoonabarabran348216 Oxley Highway (B56) north-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) / Oxley Highway – Coonamble, WarrenRoute B55 western concurrency terminus
Talbragar River501311Bridge over river
DubboDubbo506314 Erskine Street {Golden Highway (B84 east) – Dunedoo
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 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 B64western concurrency terminus
CoolamonMirrool Junction813505 Burley Griffin Way (B94 east) – TemoraRoute B94 eastern concurrency terminus
Ardlethan831516 Burley Griffin Way (B94 west) – GriffithRoute B94 western concurrency terminus
NarranderaGrong Grong876544Ganmain Road  – Coolamon
Narrandera898558Irrigation Way  – Griffith
Irrigation Canal898558Bridge over the canal
Murrumbidgee River899559Narrandera Bridge
NarranderaGillenbah900560 Sturt Highway (A20 south-east) – Wagga WaggaRoute A20 south-eastern concurrency terminus
901560 Sturt Highway (A20 north-west) – Darlington Point, Hay, MilduraRoute A20 north-western concurrency terminus
JerilderieJerilderie Junction991616 Kidman Way – Griffith
Billabong Creek1,005624Bridge over creek
JerilderieJerilderie1,007626Conargo Road – Conargo
BerriganFinley1,042647 Tuppal Street (Riverina Highway) (B58 west) – DeniliquinRoute B58 northern concurrency terminus
1,042.5647.8 Berrigan Road (Riverina Highway) (B58 east) – Berrigan, AlburyRoute B58 southern concurrency terminus
Murray River1,057657Edward Hillson Bridge
New South Wales – Victoria state border1,058657New South Wales – Victoria state border
VictoriaMoiraKoonoomoo Goulburn Valley Highway (A39) – Shepparton, Seymour, MelbourneSouthern highway termninus: continues as Goulburn Valley Highway
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "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.
  2. ^ a b "Newell Highway: History and Development". OzRoads. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Roads Minister says duplicating Newell Highway is on state government's agenda". ABC News. Australia. 7 May 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  4. ^ "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.
  5. ^ Brown, Emma (8 May 2014). "Draft Newell Highway Strategy released". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  6. ^ a b "The Newell Highway – Named after a pioneer road man". Main Roads. OzRoads. 43 (2). December 1977.
  7. ^ a b c "Newell Highway: State Highway No. 17". OzRoads. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  8. ^ "Heavy rain closes roads in NSW north-west". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australian Associated Press. 28 November 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  9. ^ Howe, Marc (12 May 2014). "NSW's Newell Highway Slated for Upgrade". Sourceable. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  10. ^ "Travelling? Check road closures here". The Land. 19 March 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  11. ^ "Highway flood plan (video)". Prime 7. 31 May 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2015.

External links[edit]