Princes Motorway

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This article is about the motorway in New South Wales. For the freeway in Victoria, see Princes Freeway.
Princes Motorway
F6 Freeway / Southern Freeway
New South Wales
Southern Freeway, near Helensburgh NSW.jpg
Princes Motorway near Helensburgh
General information
Type Motorway
Length 53 km (33 mi)
Opened 1975–1987
Route number(s)
  • M1
  • Entire route
route number
  • National Route 1
  • (mid 1980s-2013)
  • F6
  • (1975-mid 1980s)
Major junctions
North end
South end
Major suburbs / towns Helensburgh, Wollongong, Dapto
Highway system
Highways in Australia
National HighwayFreeways in Australia
Highways in New South Wales

The Princes Motorway, formerly known as the Southern Freeway[1] is a motorway linking Sydney to Wollongong. It currently is designated as part of the M1, but it once was signposted as F6 (Freeway Route 6) and is still commonly known by this latter name.

As Wollongong and Port Kembla are important industrial centres, freight traffic is heavy. Despite the current decline of the local steel industry, emergence of Wollongong as a commuter city of Sydney has kept the freeway and the adjacent Mount Ousley Road busy.


Princes Motorway; Waterfall onramp, looking south.

The Princes Motorway route starts at Waterfall in the north, taking more or less a parallel route with Princes Highway until the sprawling Bulli Tops interchange (with Appin Road (State Route 69) and Princes Highway). There it continues downhill, avoiding the steep Bulli Pass, and bypasses Wollongong CBD, through Gwynneville and continues for 20 kilometres (12 mi) to Yallah where it rejoins the Princes Highway.

From its opening on 24 July 1975, the Waterfall to Bulli Tops section of the then Southern Freeway incurred a toll.[2] This part of the freeway did not feature the Helensburgh Interchange (which subsequently opened in February 2000). The toll operated for 20 years, which was 10 years short of its intended operating length. The main reason for this was local residents complaining that the F3 Freeway (now Pacific Motorway) had their toll dropped in 1988, which was at the time intended to be dropped as its loans had been fully paid off unlike those of the F6.

After much pressure the toll for the F6 freeway was removed on 30 July 1995 as the loans had been repaid. Remnants of the tollbooths are still able to be seen at the old toll plaza at Waterfall. One of the lanes and very faint markings are still intact. Heading southbound one set of warning lights to slow down for the toll plaza are also still intact minus signage.

In early 2013, as part of the New South Wales alphanumeric route conversion process, the road name changed from the Southern Freeway to the Princes Motorway. The new name has also been applied to what was formerly known as Mount Ousley Road.[3]

In November 2015, it was announced that the section between Bulli Tops and Picton Road would have a third lane added in each direction.[4]


Captain Cook Bridge
Taren Point Road
The six-lane Captain Cook Bridge (connecting Sans Souci to Taren Point) and a short joining section of Taren Point Road to the south are the only parts of the extension to be built

The County of Cumberland Scheme of 1948 outlined an F6 extension from the current-day end-point at Waterfall.[5] As such, an F6 corridor was set aside that passes through the Royal National Park from Waterfall to Campbell Road in St Peters. The land reservation tract currently passes through the suburbs of Loftus, Kirrawee, Gymea, Miranda, Taren Point, Sandringham, Sans Souci, Ramsgate, Monterey, Kogarah, Brighton-Le-Sands, Rockdale, Banksia, Kyeemagh and Tempe.[6]

Of the proposed extension, only the six-lane Captain Cook Bridge and a short connecting section of Taren Point Road to the south have been built. Establishment of the bridge section of the F6 extension began in 1962, expedited to replace the ferry service that had operated from Taren Point to Sans Souci since 1916. Captain Cook Bridge was opened for general use in May 1965.[7]

Road surface, Captain Cook Bridge

In the original plan, the F6 would connect to the Western Distributor.[8] Then, in August 1977, premier Neville Wran cancelled the inner section of the F6 link, which at the time had an estimated construction cost of $96 million.[7] At the same time, Wran announced that the inner section reservation would be sold off and the proposed extension would instead terminate at St Peters, a medium density industrial suburb.[7][9][10]

Prior to the 2007 federal election, the Liberal-Nationals (Coalition) promised to allocate A$20 million towards planning for the F6 extension.[11] Although the Coalition did not win the 2007 election,[12] the funding was once again promised at the subsequent 2010 federal election. This funding would ensure the project is "shovel ready" when funding becomes available.[13]

As part of modifications made during the planning stage of the WestConnex project, stub tunnels will be added to the "New M5" tunnel to allow for an extension connection to it by the F6 extension.[14][15]

Exits and interchanges[edit]

Princes Motorway
Northbound exits Distance to
Distance to
Southbound exits
End Princes Motorway
continues as Princes Highway
to Sydney
Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport
45 116 Start Princes Motorway
from Princes Highway
Woronora Dam
Old Princes Highway
no exit 55 110 Helensburgh, Stanwell Park
Lawrence Hargrave Drive
Darkes Forest, Helensburgh
Old Princes Highway
53 108 no exit
Maddens Plains, Darkes Forest
Old Princes Highway
63 98 Maddens Plains, Darkes Forest
Old Princes Highway
no exit 64 97 Appin, Campbelltown
Appin Road
no exit 65 96 Thirroul, Bulli
Princes Highway
Appin, Campbelltown
Appin Road
no exit
Picton Road
74 87 Picton
Picton Road
Clive Bissell Drive 75 86 no exit
no exit 78 83 New Mount Pleasant Road
no exit 80 81 Wollongong
Mount Ousley Road
Northfields Avenue
81.5 79.5 Gwynneville, Keiraville, University of Wollongong
University Avenue
Irvine Street
North Wollongong, Bulli
Northern Distributor
82 79 no exit
Dapto, Figtree, Wollongong
Princes Highway
84 77 Wollongong, Figtree, Dapto
Princes Highway
no exit 86 75 Coniston, Port Kembla
Masters Road
Unanderra, Port Kembla
Five Islands Road
88 73 Port Kembla, Unanderra
Five Islands Road
Northcliffe Drive
91 70 Warrawong
Northcliffe Drive
no exit 93 68 Kanahooka, Dapto
Kanahooka Road
no exit 95 66 Koonawarra, Dapto
Fowlers Road
Princes Highway
98 63 End Princes Motorway
continues as Princes Highway
to Kiama / Nowra
Start Princes Motorway
from Princes Highway

See also[edit]


  1. ^ F6 Southern Freeway, Ozroads: the Australian Roads Website. Retrieved 24 August 2008.[self-published source]
  2. ^ F6 Southern Freeway – Construction, Ozroads: the Australian Roads Website. Retrieved 24 August 2008.[self-published source]
  3. ^ "Information for Southern NSW & ACT". Alpha-numeric route numbers. Roads and Maritime Services. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  4. ^ Humphries, Glen (2 November 2015). "Extra lanes for motorway between Picton Road and Bulli Tops". Illawarra Mercury. Archived from the original on 3 November 2015. 
  5. ^ "10 reasons for not building an F6 Motorway" (PDF). Sutherland Shire Environment Centre. 2005. Retrieved 30 August 2010. 
  6. ^ "F6 Corridor Public Transport Use Assessment" (PDF). Roads and Traffic Authority. September 2004. Retrieved 30 August 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c "F6 Southern Freeway : History and Development". Ozroads. Retrieved 30 August 2010. [self-published source]
  8. ^ "Western Distributor - Construction Information". Retrieved 11 May 2011. [self-published source]
  9. ^ Baker, Jordan (27 February 2007). "Shire will become car park unless F6 is built: NRMA". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 August 2010. 
  10. ^ Baker, Jordan (12 February 2007). "F6 extension – the great dividing road". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 August 2010. 
  11. ^ "$20 million worth of progress on F6". NRMA. 5 November 2007. Retrieved 30 August 2010. 
  12. ^ "Kevin Rudd claims victory in federal election". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 November 2007. Retrieved 30 August 2010. 
  13. ^ Kelly, Craig; Morrison, Scott (2 August 2010). "Morrison/Kelly Announce $20 Million to Get F6 Extension Tunnel Shovel Ready". Liberal Party of Australia. Retrieved 30 August 2010. 
  14. ^ Saulwick, Jacob (3 September 2015). "Multimillion-dollar compensation brawl brews over WestConnex St Peters interchange". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 July 2016. 
  15. ^ "WestConnex – Updated Strategic Business Case" (PDF). Sydney Motorway Corporation. November 2015. ISBN 978-1-925421-39-2. Retrieved 26 July 2016.