The Western Highway is the Victorian part of the principal route linking the Australian cities of Melbourne and Adelaide with a length of approximately 314 kilometres (195 mi) of single carriageway then 156 kilometres (97 mi) of dual carriageway known as the Western Freeway. It is a part of the National Highway network and designated as National Highway A8 and M8. The western end continues in South Australia as the Dukes Highway, the next section of the Melbourne–Adelaide National Highway. The Western Freeway joins Melbourne's freeway network via the Western Ring Road, in the middle western suburbs of Melbourne.
The Western Highway is the second busiest national highway in Australia, in terms of freight movements, with over five million tonnes annually. It provides the link between the eastern seaboard and South Australia and Western Australia. The towns along the way, including Ballarat, Ararat, Stawell and Horsham, are agricultural and manufacturing centres.
The Western Freeway subsumes and bypasses most sections of the older Western Highway. Bypassed sections of the former Western Highway that remain are generally designated sequentially from C801 to C805, or Metropolitan Route 8 (within suburban Melbourne).
The Melbourne section of the Western Highway is shown in the 1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan as part of the F12 Freeway corridor.
The Western Highway begins at the Victorian–South Australian border, east of Bordertown. It is mainly a high quality single carriageway from there to just outside the Melbourne side of Beaufort, with adequate numbers of overtaking lanes. The highway passes through several agricultural centres, for example Horsham, Victoria.
Just east of Beaufort, the Western Highway becomes the Western Freeway, adopting freeway standards with two lanes running each way, and begins bypassing most of the towns the old alignment of the highway used to serve.
The newest sections of freeway standard dual carriageway opened on 6 March 2015 for the Ballarat to Beaufort section (running 25 kilometres (16 mi) in length), and on 17 April 2016 for the Beaufort to Buangor section (running 21 kilometres (13 mi) in length). The first section runs between the end of the Ballarat bypass between a new flyover/interchange with the C805 (Avenue of Remembrance, Burrumbeet) to just outside the eastern side Beaufort (including a bypass of Trawalla) providing 156 kilometres (97 mi) of freeway standard road between Melbourne and Beaufort. The second section runs between just outside the western side of Beaufort to just after the Buangor bypass, where it becomes a single carriageway again running all the way to Ararat, providing a further 21 kilometres (13 mi) of freeway standard road for between Beaufort and just passed Buangor.
Plans are underway for the end of this freeway to be extended from the current terminus just after the Buangor bypass westward towards and eventually to Stawell.
The dual carriageway continues towards Melbourne bypassing Ballarat, Ballan, Bacchus Marsh, Melton and Rockbank to the Western Ring Road. Major intersecting roads are grade-separated, however there remain minor intersections at-grade. Cycling is permitted on the sealed shoulder along most of the freeway.
Upgrades and realignments
Timeline of duplication
- 1964/65 - Ballarat East. 2.4 miles (3.9 km) of duplicate carriageway completed east of Ballarat. No exact date given. Now part of Route C805 leading from the Western Freeway into Ballarat from the east.
- 1966/67 - Deer Park to Rockbank. 7.12 miles (11.46 km) of dual carriageways completed during financial year 1966/67. Part of this is now Ballarat Road, State Route 8 through Deer Park and Caroline Springs.
- 1966/67 - Dual carriageways from Djerriwarrh Creek to Coimadai Creek completed during financial year 1966/67. Now part of Bacchus Marsh Road between Melton and Bacchus Marsh.
- 1966/67 - Dual carriageways 1.83 miles (2.95 km) east of Pykes Creek Reservoir completed during financial year 1966/67.
- 1967/68 - Rockbank to Melton East. Construction completed of over 3 miles (4.8 km) of dual carriageways during financial year 1967/68.
- 1969 - Pykes Creek Reservoir. The ‘Western By-pass Road’ is completed, running four miles east and west of Pykes Creek Reservoir.
- 1972 - Bacchus Marsh bypass. 5.88 miles (9.46 km) opened 30 June 1972, by the Hon. Sir Henry Bolte, GCMG, MP, at a cost of A$4.3m.
- 1972 - Gordon section. 5.74 miles (9.24 km) opened 5 May 1972, by the Board's chairman, Mr R E V Donaldson, at a cost of A$2.2m.
- 1973 - Pentland Hills to Myrniong section. 1 mile (1.6 km) completed from Korkuperrimul Creek to the Lion Park interchange, early 1973.
- 1974 - Pentland Hills section. 4.8 kilometres (3.0 mi) ‘west of Bacchus Marsh’ opened 1974.
- 1975 - Myrniong bypass opened 3 October 1975, by the Minister for Transport, the Hon E R Meagher, CBE, ED, at a cost of A$3.28m. The 5.9 kilometres (3.7 mi) bypass of Myrniong completed '80 km of dual carriageways between Melbourne and Ballarat'.
- 1978 - Ballan bypass. 8.4 kilometres (5.2 mi) opened 15 June 1978, by the Hon J A Rafferty, Minister for Transport, at a cost of A$9.8m.
- 1983 – Wallace and Bungaree bypass opened 9 March 1983, by the Premier of Victoria, the Hon. John Cain MP. The 11.9 kilometres (7.4 mi) bypass cost A$23.6m.
- 1987 – Melton bypass. The 'freeway work' was opened to traffic on 7 July 1987, with the remainder of works expected to be completed by April 1988. The 8.8 kilometres (5.5 mi) bypass cost A$44.2m.
- 1989 – 5.6 km bypass of Dimboola opened in May.
- 1993 - Ballarat bypass. The first stage, a single carriageway section from Woodmans Hill to the Midland Highway, is opened in December 1993, at a cost of A$62m.
- 1994 - Ballarat bypass. The second stage of the initial 26 kilometres (16 mi) single carriageway by-pass is opened to traffic in December 1994.
- 1995 - Ballarat bypass. Second carriageway opened to traffic between Woodmans Hill and Gillies Street in December 1995, at a cost of A$25m.
- 1998 - Ballarat bypass. The final section opened in February 1998, The final stage featured the duplication of the original single carriageway bypass from Gillies Street to the Sunraysia Highway.
- 2001 - The new elevated Hopkins Road Interchange was opened to traffic on 12 July 2001, at a cost of $13.1 million. Before the construction of the new interchange, the intersection of Hopkins Road (Melton-Werribee Road) with the Western Freeway at Rockbank was improved using Black Spot Program funds in 1989 and 1991, but a long term solution to the congestion and crashes at this location was the construction of an elevated interchange.
- 2009 – Deer Park bypass opened to traffic on 5 April 2009, at a cost of A$331m, jointly funded by the state and federal governments. In conjunction with these works, the new Leakes Road interchange at Rockbank was opened in August 2008. This provided a freeway interchange onto the Western Ring Road.
- 2011 – Anthony’s Cutting realignment. A new 5-kilometre (3.1 mi) realignment constructed to the south of the previous section of highway, bypassing the steep grades and tight curves of the old alignment between Melton and Bacchus Marsh. The A$200m project was ‘mostly’ open to traffic in June 2011.
- 2013 - Ballarat to Burrumbeet. 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) duplication opened to traffic 31 January 2013.
- 2015 - Burrumbeet to Beaufort opened to traffic on 18 February 2015 adding a further 26 kilometres (16 mi) of dual carriageway and includes a bypass of Trawalla however the highway still passes through both Burrumbeet (as dual carriageway) and Beaufort (as single carriageway).
- 2016 - Beaufort to Buangor opened to traffic in April 2016 adding a further 21 kilometres (13 mi) of dual carriageway to the existing freeway, which includes the Buangor bypass.
Deer Park Bypass
The Deer Park Bypass opened on 5 April 2009 in the western suburbs of Melbourne. The freeway links the Western Freeway at Ravenhall, and the Western Ring Road in Derrimut. This 9.3 kilometre freeway was estimated to cost A$333 million which also includes a grade separated interchange or a "full diamond" at Leakes Road in Rockbank.
The purpose of the freeway bypass is to move traffic off Ballarat Road, which leads to the Western Ring Road. Due to the strong population growth of about 8.7 per cent and subdivision in Deer Park and Sunshine, the surrounding suburbs and the seven traffic signals between the Western Ring Road and the start of the Western Freeway, substantial long and very frustrating delays were created for the 70,000 vehicles per day with 10 per cent of this consisting of heavy vehicles.
The bypass had been proposed since the completion of the Western Ring Road, the project stalled due to funding quarrels between the Federal and State Governments. In 2004, the Federal government announced that the Deer Park Bypass would be built as part of a $1.4 billion project "package grant" to Victoria. It was anticipated that more than 15 min of travel time would be saved when travelling through Deer Park, via Ballarat Road.
Construction started on the Deer Park bypass in August 2006, work being carried out as a joint venture by Leighton Contractors and VicRoads, in construction with two contracts. The first stage opened in December 2007.
It was announced on 4 March 2009 that the Deer Park Bypass would open in early April 2009, with the new freeway link on track to open more than eight months ahead of schedule.
On that day, Roads and Ports Minister Tim Pallas and Federal Member for Gorton Brendan O'Connor MP inspected works from the new bridge over the Ring Road at Sunshine West and Tim Pallas announced that the $331 million Deer Park Bypass would open to the public on Sunday 5 April 2009.
Anthony's Cutting Realignment
The section of road through Anthony's Cutting between Bacchus Marsh and Melton was one of the most dangerous sections of the route, and was not of modern freeway standard. The steep hills and tight curves along the 5 kilometre long stretch of road resulted in 21 serious crashes in the five years to 2010. More than 29,000 vehicles, including more than 4000 freight vehicles, travel the highway section daily. The new route opened to traffic on 27 June 2011, nine months ahead of schedule.
The project included:
- Extension of Woolpack Road north from Bacchus Marsh Road to a new interchange on the Western Freeway, including a bridge over the Lerderderg River.
- An overpass carrying Bulmans Road over the existing Western Freeway.
- An overpass taking Hopetoun Park Road across the new freeway, with Melbourne-bound on and off ramps.
- Freeway bridges spanning Djerriwarrh Creek, and Cowans Road / Pyrites Creek.
The original project scope included a diamond interchange at Bulmans Road that has not been built, while the ramps at Hopetoun Park Road were not included but was later added. The extension of Woolpack Road has been delayed due to controversy over need to clear trees in the heritage listed Avenue of Honour at Bacchus Marsh.
Realignment of the road through this section had been proposed far back as 2001, when a group of 10 local councils said the realignment could cost just $65 million to build. By 2006 the cost was estimated to be $85 million, with federal Roads Minister Jim Lloyd stating that the project would receive serious consideration for funding in the 2009 AusLink document, subject to support from the State Government. Construction commenced in February 2010, funded by $160 million from the Australian Government and $40 million from the Victorian Government.
In 2001 work started on a 4.2 kilometre long deviation at Armstrong (on the Adelaide side of Ararat), involving 200,000 cubic metres of earthworks and a new bridge over the main Melbourne–Adelaide railway. Previously high vehicles could not travel under the rail overpass and were forced to detour around it, in addition the poor road conditions led to a number of accidents and fatalities. Costing $6.1 million the work was completed by 2003.
- Proposed upgrade and safety improvements Rockbank to Melton, to be funded by Auslink 2 (2009–2014).
- Proposed extension west from the current freeway terminus in the Melbourne side of Beaufort west through to Ararat and eventually to Stawell, also part of Auslink 2. Beaufort to Buangor was completed in April 2016. Buangor Bypass completed in mid-2016, and Buangor to Ararat is expected to start in early 2017.
Duplication of the Western Highway between Ballarat and Stawell was proposed to be completed between 2009 and 2014, to be funded by Auslink 2. At the end of 2016, parts of this are still in early planning, including the bypasses at Beaufort and Ararat.
The clearing of wide swathes of the ancient red gums by Vic Roads near Beaufort has resulted in community angst and public meetings are being held. Near Buangor, 74 km west of Ballarat, two women chained themselves to a red gum on 16 March 2015 for 4½ hours to draw attention to the issue. Mrs Isabel Mackenzie, a long-term resident of the area, said she was concerned at the environmental impact of trees that are hundreds of years old. Helen Lewers, said that VicRoads should reroute the highway between Buangor and Stawell to preserve the native roadside vegetation.
Towns & Suburbs
Towns along the freeway include:
Suburbs along the freeway include :
Exits and major intersections
|South Australia – Victoria state border||439||273||South Australia – Victoria state border||Continues in South Australia as the Dukes Highway|
|West Wimmera||Kaniva||414||257||Melbourne–Adelaide railway|
|412||256||Kaniva-Edenhope Road (C208) – Edenhope|
|Hindmarsh||Nhill||376||234||Nhill-Harrow Road (C206) – Harrow|
|374||232||Nhill-Yanac Road (C225) –|
|373||232||Nhill-Netherby Road (C224) – Netherby|
|372||231||Nhill-Jeparit Road (C223) – Jeparit|
|338||210||Dimboola-Rainbow Road (C227) – Jeparit, Rainbow, Dimboola||C227 is the road through Dimboola, highway uses bypass|
|335||208||Borung Highway (C234) – Donald|
|334||208||Horsham Road (C227) – Dimboola||C227 is the road through Dimboola, highway uses bypass|
|Horsham||300||190||Blue Ribbon Road (C231) –|
|/ Henty Highway (B200/B240) – Warracknabeal, St Arnaud, Mildura||Duplex with A200 for 3km and B240 for 400m|
|299||186||Wimmera Highway (B240) – Edenhope, Naracoorte|
|Horsham-Lubeck Road (C215) – ,|
|297||185||Henty Highway (A200) – Hamilton, Portland||Duplex with A200 through Horsham|
|286||178||Ballyglunin North Road (C215)|
|283||176||Northern Grampians Road (C222) – Halls Gap|
|Northern Grampians||246||153||Stawell-Warracknabeal Road (B210) – Warracknabeal|
|Stawell||235||146||Grampians Road (C216)– Halls Gap|
|234||145||(C221) – Pomonal, Avoca|
|231||144||London Road (to Donald–Stawell Road) (C238) – Donald|
|Great Western||223||139||Melbourne–Adelaide railway|
|Ararat||Ararat||205||127||Pyrenees Highway (B180)|
|203||126||Ararat-Halls Gap Road (C222)|
|Melbourne–Adelaide railway level crossing|
|161||100||Beaufort-Lexton Road / Skipton Road (C172)|
|Ballarat||Burrumbeet||134||83||Remembrance Drive interchange (C805)|
|Miners Rest||129||80||Sunraysia Highway (B220) – Avoca, Mildura||Western Freeway (M8) east, Western Highway (A8) west|
|Miners Rest, Mitchell Park||127||79||Ballarat–Maryborough Road (C287) – Ballarat, Maryborough|
|Wendouree, Mount Rowan||125||78||Gillies Road (C307) – Wendouree, Clunes||westbound exit / eastbound entry only|
|123||76||Midland Highway (A300) – Bendigo, Geelong|
|Brown Hill||117||73||Ballarat–Daylesford Road (C292) – Brown Hill, Daylesford|
|Warrenheip, Brown Hill||115||71||Victoria Street/Old Western Highway (C805) – Ballarat|
|114||71||Clarks Road||south side only|
|Warrenheip||112||70||Brewery Tap Road / Old Melbourne Road – , Dunnstown||Not grade separated|
|111||69||Greene Road||south side only, left in/left out, at grade|
|110||68||Richards Road||north side only, left in/left out, at grade|
|Moorabool||Leigh Creek||108||67||Forbes Road / Black Swamp Road||At-grade|
|107||66||Bungaree–Wallace Road – Bungaree||At-grade, south side only|
|Bungaree, Springbank||97||60||Ormond Road – Springbank, Bungaree–Wallace Road (C291) – Wallace, Creswick|
|Gordon||92||57||Brougham Street / Abbington Park Road – Gordon||Grade separated|
|Ballan||82||51||Ballan–Daylesford Road (C141) – Ballan, Daylesford|
|79||49||BP Service Centre|
|77||48||Old Melbourne Road (C803) – Ballan|
|Myrniong||71||44||Greendale–Myrniong Road (C318) – Kyneton|
|Myrniong,||65||40||Pentland Hills Road –|
|62||39||Mortons Road / Pentland Hills Road –||Melbourne side ramps only|
|Darley, Bacchus Marsh||60||37||Bacchus Marsh Road (C802) – Bacchus Marsh||Adelaide side only|
|Bacchus Marsh||58||36||Bacchus Marsh–Gisborne Road (C704) – Geelong, Gisborne|
|53||33||Bacchus Marsh Road (C802) – Bacchus Marsh||exits only|
|Hopetoun Park||51||32||Hopetoun Park Road||Melbourne side only|
|Melton||Brookfield, Melton, Melton West, Melton South||45||28||Coburns Road (C801) – Exford, Melton|
|Melton, Melton South||42||26||Ferris Road, Melton Highway (C754/C801) – Melton, Gisborne, Taylors Lakes, Melton South|
|Rockbank||40||25||Mount Cottrell Road – Mount Cottrell||at-grade|
|36||22||Leakes Road – Rockbank, Plumpton|
|33||21||Troups Road North||At grade|
|31||19||Hopkins Road (C702) – Werribee, Diggers Rest|
|Ravenhall||28||17||Ballarat Road (State Route 8) – Deer Park, Sunshine||Melbourne side only|
|27||17||Christies Road – Caroline Springs||Melbourne side only|
|Brimbank||Derrimut||21||13||Robinsons Road – Tarneit, Burnside|
|19||12||Western Ring Road (M80) – Greensborough, Seymour, Sydney, airport|
|Derrimut, Sunshine West||18||11||continues as Western Ring Road (M80) – Melbourne, Geelong|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi|
- Country Roads Board Victoria. Fifty-Second Annual Report: for the year ended 30 June 1965, Melbourne, Victoria: Government Printer, 1965. p. 16
- Country Roads Board Victoria. Fifty-Fourth Annual Report: for the year ended 30 June 1967, Burwood, Victoria: Brown, Prior, Anderson, 1968. p. 35
- Country Roads Board Victoria. Fifth Annual Report: for the year ended 30 June 1968, Burwood, Victoria: Brown, Prior, Anderson, 1969. p. 35
- Country Roads Board Victoria. Fifty-Sixth Annual Report: for the year ended 30 June 1969, Burwood, Victoria: Brown, Prior, Anderson, 1970. p. 6
- Country Roads Board Victoria. Fifty-Ninth Report: for the year ended 30 June 1972, Burwood, Victoria: Brown, Prior, Anderson, 1972. p. 7
- Country Roads Board Victoria. Sixtieth Annual Report: for the year ended 30 June 1973, Burwood, Victoria: Brown, Prior, Anderson, 1973. p. 5
- Country Roads Board Victoria. Sixty-First Annual Report: for the year ended 30 June 1974, Burwood, Victoria: Brown, Prior, Anderson, 1974. p. 4
- Country Roads Board Victoria. Sixty-Third Annual Report: for the year ended 30 June 1976, Burwood, Victoria: Brown, Prior, Anderson, 1976
- Country Roads Board Victoria. Sixty-Fifth Annual Report: for the year ended 30 June 1978, Burwood, Victoria: Brown, Prior, Anderson, 1978. p. 9
- Country Roads Board Victoria. Activity Report 1982/83, Kew, Victoria: Country Roads Board Victoria, 1983. p. 8
- Road Construction Authority Victoria. Annual Report 1986-87, Kew, Victoria: Road Construction Authority, Victoria, 1987. p. 64
- Road Construction Authority Victoria. Annual Report 1987-88
- "Ministry of Transport Annual Report 1988–1989" (PDF). Victoria Transport. p. 12. ISSN 0816-1143. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
- VicRoads. VicRoads Annual Report 1993-94, Kew, Victoria: VicRoads, 1994, p. 17
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- VicRoads. VicRoads Annual Report 1995-56, Kew, Victoria: VicRoads, 1996, p. 15
- VicRoads. VicRoads Annual Report 1997-98, Kew, Victoria: VicRoads, 1998, p. 32
- Vic Roads 2001
- BUDGET 2001-2002 Media Release. John Anderson, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Transport and Regional Services. FEDERAL ROADS BUDGET FOR VICTORIA JUMPS 77 PER CENT, 2001 Budget 8 22 May 2001
- VicRoads. VicRoads Annual Report 2008-09, Kew, Victoria: VicRoads, 2009, p. 42
- VicRoads. VicRoads Annual Report 2010-11, Kew, Victoria: VicRoads, 2011, p. 10
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- "Western Highway upgrades". VicRoads. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
- First milestone reached on the Deer Park Bypass
- Media Release - Deer Park ByPass to open in early April 2009
- "$200 Million Anthony's Cutting Project Underway". Media release issued by the Hon Kevin Rudd MP, Prime Minister; Tim Pallas, Victorian Roads Minister; and Catherine King, Member for Ballarat. 18 February 2010. Archived from the original on 1 June 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
- "Anthony's Cutting to open early". The Courier. 24 June 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
- "Anthony's Cutting realignment open to traffic". Melton Leader. 27 June 2011. Archived from the original on 2 July 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
- "Project Overview". Western Highway Realignment Project. Archived from the original on 22 April 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
- "Angry Hopetoun Park residents petition MP". Melton Leader. 3 October 2009. Archived from the original on 5 October 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
- Carolyn Webb (13 August 2010). "Heritage listing puts project on hold". The Age. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
- MARIZA FIAMENGO (31 October 2001). "Campaign unveiled for safe highway". The Courier. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
- "Positive response to highway upgrade plan". The Courier. 31 July 2009. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
- "Western Highway - Realignment of Anthonys Cutting between Melton and Bacchus Marsh". nationbuildingprogram.gov.au. 18 May 2011. Archived from the original on 1 June 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
- "Works to start on Armstrong deviation". Stawell Times News. www.stawelltimes.com.au. 2 November 2001. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
- John Anderson (14 May 2002). "Federal Government Keeps Victoria Moving". Budget Media Releases 2002–03. www.infrastructure.gov.au. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
- "Western Highway Duplication – Ballarat to Stawell" (PDF). Department of Transport, State Government of Victoria, Australia. p. 58. Archived from the original (pdf) on 22 July 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
- "Beaufort Bypass". Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Government of Victoria. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
- Hatch, Patrick (16 March 2015). "Grandmother, 91 chains herself to tree in Victoria's west to protest roadwork". The Age. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
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