Warringah Freeway

Warringah Freeway

Warringah Freeway
New South Wales
Southern terminus of the Warringah Freeway at its junction with the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
General information
Type Freeway
Length 4 km (2 mi)
Opened 1968 - 1978
Route number(s)
  • M1 (2013-present)
  • Entire Route
route number
  • F1 (1968-1992?)
  • National Route 1 (1992-1993)
  • Metroad 2 (1993-2007)
  • Metroad 1 (1993-2013)
  • Entire Route
Major junctions
NW end
  • Miller Street

Falcon St (A8)

South end
Major suburbs / towns Crows Nest
Highway system
Highways in Australia
National HighwayFreeways in Australia
Highways in New South Wales
Warringah Freeway looking south at its widest point - 16 lanes
View of the Warringah Freeway looking north, over the inner western carriageway. This picture was taken during the morning rush hour
View of the Warringah Freeway looking north, towards the Military Road overpass

The Warringah Freeway (also known as the Warringah Expressway) is a major road in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. This freeway forms part of the M1 and the Sydney Orbital Network to provide access to most of the suburbs in Sydney and is also a major route to the north, south, east and west of the metropolis.


  • History 1
  • Current Conditions 2
  • Exits and interchanges 3
  • Original Blueprint of the Warringah Freeway 4
  • In popular culture 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Planning began in 1951. The first stage of the road opened on 18 June 1968. As its name suggests, the road was envisioned as the first stage of a freeway system for Sydney's Manly/Warringah area. An early alignment had the freeway crossing into the Manly Warringah area via Castlecrag, then later via Castle Cove. The freeway was never extended in this direction due to opposition by the residents of Castlecrag.

A large amount of residential and commercial property, half a golf course, and a cemetery were resumed by the government to build this freeway.

The freeway originally featured a 3x2x2x3 arrangement with the inner two carriageways both running in the same direction during the rush hour. The changeover process was slow both on the freeway and the Harbour Bridge, with large numbers of red plastic 'candle sticks' or 'candy bars' being manually moved four times every weekday. The original north termination point of the freeway was Chandos St Cammeray, with a small extension being added to Willoughby road in 1978. The Chandos Street ramps were moved to Brook St at this time.

It was not until 1992 when the Gore Hill Freeway was added to connect the Warringah Freeway to the Pacific Highway, that the road officially became part of Australia's Highway 1. Until then, it had been a short freeway that terminated curiously in the middle of the suburbs, despite being Sydney's most prominent freeway, the "F1", with 16 lanes connecting to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Current Conditions

Only the inner west carriageway is reversible, with the inner east carriageway feeding the tunnel southbound. All carriageways were widened by utilizing the breakdown lane space, and remarking the existing lanes. After the North Sydney northbound onramp, there are 16 lanes across the whole corridor for a short distance, becoming 10 lanes before the Brook Street exit, and then 6 after the Willoughby road exit. This feeds onto the Gore Hill freeway, completed in 1992.

The arrangement is now mostly 4x3x3x3 through the section with the switchable carriageway, with variations in the width of the outer carriageways as ramps enter and exit the freeway. In 2007, major changes to the Military road overpass have occurred with an extra three ramps added, and two extra lanes on the connecting Gore Hill freeway at the northern end (Part of the Lane Cove Tunnel project). The overpass where these five ramps originate has been widened for an attempt to channel all the traffic.

The first of the new Military Road ramps opened in June 2006. Most northbound traffic now has to exit from the right of the six northbound outer carriageway lanes, instead of the left.[1] The previous exit ramp (for a right turn into Military Road) previously had three general lanes and one bus lane. There are now no general lanes, and two bus lanes. Traffic turning left into Military Rd still uses the old ramp. The stated reason for this change is to remove all the traffic which enters the freeway at North Sydney, then exits again at Military Road, adding to rush hours delays.

The carriageway change over process was automated around 1990, with moveable barriers and overhead signage directing traffic onto the correct lanes. The changeover occurs when the Harbour Bridge needs either 5 or 6 lanes southbound (the default is 4 each way). There is only ever a maximum of 5 lanes northbound off the bridge, with the extra lane feeding into a spare lane on the inner west carriageway. Changeover times are around 06:30 and 09:00 Monday to Friday.

A 24-hour Bus Lane (buses, taxi cabs and hire cars) was added after the Sydney Harbour Tunnel opened in 1992. It runs southbound on the outer carriageway and across the Harbour Bridge. This has proven to be a major success, carrying more persons in the morning rush hour than all other southbound lanes combined.

Almost all entry and exit ramps on the freeway are controlled by traffic signals. Most of the ramps are of sufficient length to avoid any delays to through traffic, with the exception of Military road. The arrangement for accessing the Harbour bridge (For City and west access) southbound can be confusing for anyone unfamiliar with the road, with a choice of either competing with traffic approaching the Sydney Harbour Tunnel via the two lanes at the inner eastern carriageway or having to cross the Bus Lane. The traffic improved when the Sydney Harbour Tunnel went electronic/cashless: the toll is charged either by a beep of an e-tag or by number-plate reading (unless you pay the toll within 48 hours of the number-plate reading, you will be fined); such an arrangement is not uncommon in Sydney, as the Westlink M7, Cross City Tunnel, Lane Cove Tunnel and the M2 Hills Motorway (from December 2007) [5] are fully cashless/electronic. The toll cost is A$3 for southbound vehicles only - Same for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The traffic improved, allowing only electronic toll enabled traffic to move more efficiently when approaching the Sydney Harbour Tunnel (southbound) at 80 km/h - meaning no stopping, less wear and tear, etc. [6] [7] [8].

Exits and interchanges

LGA Location km mi Destinations Notes
Willoughby Naremburn 0 0 Gore Hill Freeway (M1) / Willoughby Road – Epping, Newcastle, Willoughby, Roseville Northern freeway terminus: continues as Gore Hill Freeway; northbound exit to and southbound entrance from Willoughby Road
North Sydney Crows Nest 0.5 0.3 Brook Street – St Leonards, Naremburn Northbound exit and southbound entrance
Cammeray 1 1 Miller Street – Cammeray, Northbridge Northbound exit and southbound entrance
1.4 0.9 Ernest Street – Crows Nest, Cremorne Northbound exit and southbound entrance
North Sydney 1.6 1.0 Military Road (A8) east / Falcon Street – Mosman, Manly, Crows Nest The southbound exit is to Military Road only
2.0 1.2 Alfred Street North – North Sydney, Neutral Bay Southbound exit only
2.2 1.4 Berry Street – no exit Northbound entrance only
2.4 1.5 Sydney Harbour Tunnel (M1) – Wollongong, Canberra Southbound exit and northbound entrance
2.8 1.7 Mount Street to High Street – Neutral Bay, Kirribilli Northbound exit and southbound entrance
3.2 2.0 Pacific Highway – North Sydney Northbound exit only
3.5 2.2 Lavender Street – Kirribilli, Lavender Bay Northbound exit only
4.0 2.5 Bradfield Highway -- Sydney Southern terminus, continues as Bradfield Highway
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Original Blueprint of the Warringah Freeway

Gore Hill Freeway, following on from Warringah Freeway, looking north from Naremburn exit
The now cancelled route that the freeway would have taken from Northbridge to Castlecrag. As you can see it was going to be hugging Sailors Bay before crossing Middle Harbor to the Seaforth bluff.

Following the opening of the first section of this freeway in 1968, there were plans for 6 further stages to be constructed to the north.

  • Stage 1 - Willoughby Road extension, and a tunnel under the North Shore Line. Planned completion 1973. Willoughby road extension completed 1978. Tunnel under the railway completed 1992 as part of the Gore Hill Freeway.
  • Stage 2 - Northbridge to Castlecrag, and Wakehurst Parkway link. Planned completion 1974. Never built due to lobbying by the Castlecrag Progress Association.
  • Stage 3 - Bridge over Middle harbour between east Castlecrag and Seaforth. Planned completion 1974. Never built due to lobbying by the Castlecrag Progress Association.
  • Stage 4 - Seaforth to Balgowlah spur link. Planned completion 1974. Never built due to lobbying by the Castlecrag Progress Association.
  • Stage 5 - Upgrade of Wakehurst Parkway to freeway conditions to Warringah Road. Spur link to Manly Vale. Planned completion 1977. Partially completed (Burnt Bridge Creek Deviation) 1985.
  • Stage 6 - Willoughby Road to Pacific Highway/Epping road junction. Planned completion 1980. Completed 1992 as the Gore Hill Freeway.

Various proposals over the years have been made to complete the Warringah Freeway to the area of its name, due to the chronic traffic problems afflicting the North Shore from Mosman to Chatswood. Ironically the residents of Castlecrag, who opposed the construction of this freeway, also suffer from these traffic problems.

One proposal from the state opposition was for the construction of a six lane tunnel starting at the Burnt Bridge Creek Deviation in Balgowlah, joining the Gore Hill Freeway.[2]

In popular culture

The freeway was briefly seen in the 1974 feature film Stoner.[3]

See also


  1. ^ SMH. June 2006
  2. ^ NSW Liberal Party. February 2002
  3. ^ Stoner. Dir. Huang Feng. Perf. Angela Mao and George Lazenby. DVD. Shout! Factory, 1974.

External links

  • RTA Live Traffic Camera
  • Late 1960's planned freeway extensions
  • Lane Cove Tunnel Project

Motorways near the Harbour Bridge

Cahill Expressway, Bradfield Highway, M1 Sydney Harbour Tunnel, M1 Warringah Freeway, M1 Gore Hill Freeway and M4 Western Distributor.