Section: Chinderah to Tweed Heads

Looking north approaching the South Tweed Heads interchange. To the right is the old Pacific Hwy (Munjingbal Dr) and curving its way into the distance is the current route of Pacific Highway - the Tweed Heads Bypass, completed in 1992. Photo taken: November 2005.

This 10km section of the Pacific Highway stretches from the southern end of the Chinderah Bypass, at Oak Avenue, to the New South Wales/Queensland Border on the Tweed Heads Bypass. It is entirely dual carriageway, following extensive upgrading during the 1980s and 1990s.

Following the reconstruction of the Pacific Highway between Murwillumbah and Chinderah, completed in June 1931, traffic between the rail heads at Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads was now concentrated on the newly-named Pacific Highway. However, the Pacific Highway had to cross both the Tweed River and Terranora Creek en route to the railhead at Tweed Heads and it did so by vehicular punt. These had quickly become a bottleneck to the ever increasing volumes of traffic and the opportunity was taken to use unemployment relief funds to construct bridges over these two watercourses.

Boyds Bay Bridge, over Terranora Creek at Tweed Heads, was the first to be constructed. It was a steel and concrete girder structure, with a vertical lift span to allow boats to access the dry dock located upstream in Terranora Creek. It was completed and opened to traffic in December 1934 (don’t let the caption on the photograph below fool you). However, the engineering of the lift span was quite primitive, as this quote from the RTA’s Oral History programme tells:

“It was quite a narrow, two-lane bridge…it was a lift span bridge and it was…still being lifted up until the last few years of its life. It was lifted by hand winching - you had to get three men on a big crank handle and wind it…and the bridge went up…and you would pull the handle out and let it go down and hope it’d jump back in the same spot…And it just hung on cables! And often when it would come back down it wouldn’t sit on its bed properly.”1

The second bridge to be built was the bridge over the Tweed River at Barney’s Point, eliminating a vehicular ferry which had been operating between Chinderah and Old Ferry Road on the north side of the river. A 3km deviation was constructed to form the approaches to the bridge, replacing the former route of the highway via Old Ferry Rd and Terranora Road. Barneys Point Bridge was of similar design to the Boyds Bay Bridge but opened 18 months later, in July 1936. The RTA’s Oral History programme again tells a story of the Barneys Point Bridge:

“It was another lift span bridge that really caused a lot of problems in the later years of its life because [there was] a cruise boat operating on the river, going up and down at least once a day, and every time demanding the bridge be opened so the highway was in fact closed for a period of perhaps ten minutes at least, twice a day. While in non-peak times that was just a nuisance, it used to cause some spectacular traffic jams in the Christmas period, certainly. Our understanding was always that the boats had right of way, and that boat captain could demand at any stage that the bridge be opened. That caused a lot of trouble for us and from a Council point of view, because not only did the bridge have to be opened but we had a water main slung under the bridge. That was a water main of 600mm - 2 feet - diameter. It had to be drained, turned off, disconnected and, because it was a swing bridge, you actually had to take a piece out of the main to allow it to open. But yeah, those would have been the most polished bolts ever because they were being taken out and done up again, in most cases, twice a day.”2

Little work was done on the highway in this area for many years following the opening of the bridge. The rapid growth of the Gold Coast as a tourist destination in the 1960s placed incredible demand on the Pacific Highway, which was constrained by the narrow, two-lane bridges and its route through the middle of Tweed Heads (via Minjungbal Dr, Terranora Tce, Wharf Street) and through Chinderah (via Chinderah Bay Rd). A bypass of Tweed Heads was planned and designed in conjunction with Queensland Main Roads Department, as it would pass through their land and join their road system, and construction was commenced in the early 1980s. The first stage, from Coolangatta Airport to Kennedy Drive, which provided a bypass of Tweed Heads/Coolangatta but not South Tweed Heads, was opened to traffic in July 1985. Also constructed at the same time was a replacement Boyds Bay bridge - the new five-lane concrete structure which incorporated a grade-separated interchange with Kennedy Drive was opened to traffic in 1985. Also, the Pacific Highway was duplicated through South Tweed Heads, adjoining the Sextons Hill duplication (Barneys Point-Laura St) which had been completed in 1984. Whilst construction of the second stage of the Tweed Heads Bypass, from Kennedy Drive to the Pacific Highway at South Tweed Heads, commenced in July 1986, it was not completed until November 1992.

The next bottleneck to be rectified was the Barneys Point Bridge. Planning had been undertaken whilst the Tweed Heads Bypass was under construction and, with the aid of a federal grant for the construction of a six-lane high-level bridge over the Tweed River, construction of the Chinderah Bypass and new Barney’s Point Bridge was commenced in 1993. The southbound carriageway of the new bridge and Chinderah Bypass was opened to traffic on 21 October 1996 and the northbound carriageway followed on 29 November 1996. All major works were completed by January 1997 at a cost of $67 million.

The old Barneys Point Bridge was to be demolished following construction of the Chinderah Bypass, however this has not been the case. As at November 2005 the portion of the bridge south of the old lift span still remains. The lift span was preserved, becoming part of a new bridge over the Richmond River to replace the Broadwater Ferry. This commonwealth-initiated project was partially paid for by the Commonwealth, with the remainder of the funding coming from the NSW Government, Richmond Valley and Lismore City Councils. The new, 166m long bridge was opened to traffic in December 2005.

In November 2004 planning commenced for an upgrade of the Pacific Highway at Banora Point, between the Chinderah and Tweed Heads Bypasses. Whilst duplication of the highway at this location was completely fairly recently (1984), it was not constructed to freeway standards and will, in the future, form a major bottleneck as it contains the only remaining traffic signals between Ballina and the Queensland Border. Two options were been short-listed, both of which involve the construction of a viaduct across a steep valley to the east of Sextons Hill. Major construction on the project commenced in December 2009 and completion is expected in late 2012.

Distance sign heading north along the Chinderah Bypass from Tweed Valley Way, which marks the northern end of the Yelgun-Chinderah project. Nov 2005.
Northbound AD sign for Chinderah Rd interchange. Nov 2005.
Northbound AD sign for Waugh St interchange. Nov 2005.
Heading north from Waugh Street to the Barneys Point Bridge. Nov 2005.
Poorly-designed AD sign for the Tourist Drive 38 loop via the Tweed Coast, southbound at Barneys Point Bridge. Also note the incorrect NH1 shield. Nov 2005.
Looking north at the Barneys Point interchange. The northbound on-ramp forms part of the original northern approach to the original Barneys Point Bridge, most of which is still located slightly upstream from the current six-lane bridge. Nov 2005.
Unusual style diagrammatic AD sign for the Tweed Heads Bypass, just north of Terranora Rd. Note the incorrect NH1 shield. Jan 2005.
Gantry signage southbound approaching Laura St at Banora Point. Note the incorrect NH1 shield. Jan 2005.
Distance sign heading north from Minjungbal Dr at Tweed Heads South. Note the incorrect NH1 shield - common on signage for the Tweed Heads Bypass. Nov 2005.
Distance sign heading south from Kennedy Drive. Again, note the incorrect NH1 shield. Jan 2005.
Looking north at the Kennedy Drive interchange. This marked the southern terminus of the Tweed Heads Bypass from 1986 until 1992. Nov 2005.
Distance sign heading north from Kennedy Drive. Again THE PACIFIC HIGHWAY IS NOT A NATIONAL HIGHWAY :-) Nov 2005.
Southbound AD sign for Kennedy Drive. Again the route shield is incorrect. Jan 2005.
Interesting sign, heading south from the Queensland Border on the Tweed Heads Bypass. Note the poor condition of the concrete pavement on the NSW section of the bypass. Jan 2005.
The NSW/QLD Border looking south. Jan 2005.
Looking north into Queensland and the northern end of the Tweed Heads Bypass from the Queensland/NSW Border. Interestingly, this section of what is signed as the Pacific Hwy is not actually part of the gazetted Pacific Hwy according to QMR. More on that in the QLD section of Ozroads. Jan 2005.


Looking southwest along the current highway from the footbridge at the top of Sexton Hill, showing the junction with Terranora Road. The original highway alignment hugged the far right of the road reserve, continuing along the service road and then following Terranora Road. The current highway route, shown curving to the left, was initially constructed as part of the 1930s deviation to Barneys Point Bridge and was susbequently widened.
Photo taken: December 2009.
Terranora Road looking west at the junction with Old Ferry Road. The original highway route turned left into Old Ferry Road, descending to cross the Tweed River via the Chinderah Punt.
Photo taken: July 2008.
Old Ferry Road looking southwest as you begin the descent to the river flats. The development of a canal estate on the flats has essentially removed all traces of the former ferry landing and approaches on this side of the river.
Photo taken: July 2008.


Chinderah Bay Drive looking south at the southern end of the old alignment. Just the other side of the small grassed mound is the current alignment of Pacific Highway, 1.3km south of the Chinderah Road interchange.
Photo taken: December 2009.
Looking north from the southern end of the old alignment towards the easy right-hand bend which leads into Chinderah village. The road has been fully resealed since this photo was taken, which shows the highway in the approximate condition it was in prior to the bypass opening in 1996.
Source: Michael Pascalis, September 1999.
Looking north through the bend towards Chinderah. Note the right turn lane ahead for what was once a Tweed Shire Council depot. The depot is now a sand mine and the channelised turn lane has since been removed.
Source: Michael Pascalis, September 1999.
Looking south from the entrance to the former Council depot, with a typical farmhouse on the left. Note the channelised right turn lane and the acceleration lane for traffic entering the old highway - relics of a much busier time. This section of road was reconstructed in 2008/09 and the turning lanes removed.
Source: Michael Pascalis, September 1999.
Looking north at the former Council depot, showing the reconstructed road.
Photo taken: December 2009.
Looking north, just north of the former Council depot showing the old 'Chinderah' sign marking the entrance to the village. The Chinderah Lake Caravan Park is to the right of the highway.
Source: Michael Pascalis, September 1999.
Looking north towards the junction with Chinderah Road. This intersection was reconstructed to favour traffic proceeding to/from north and east, however the old '70' and '100' speed zone road markings are still visible.
Photo taken: December 2009.
Chinderah Bay Drive looking south towards the junction with Chinderah Road. When this was part of the Pacific Highway, the speed limit was 70km/h - now it is 50km/h.
Photo taken: December 2009.
A southerly view from just north of River Street, showing the proximity of the highway to the Tweed River. On occassion the highway and village has been flooded due to exceptional flood events.
Photo taken: December 2009.
Looking north towards the junction with Wommin Bay Road ('Jenners Corner'). About 1990 traffic signals were installed at this junction to cater for access to/from the highway. The signals were removed soon after the bypass opened3 but the pre-bypass junction arrangement still remains. The highway itself has been resurfaced; it had been in poor condition due to years of pounding from heavy traffic.
Photo taken: December 2009.
Two views, 10 years apart, looking south towards the junction with Wommin Bay Road. Note the northbound acceleration lane has been removed due to much lower traffic volumes.
Top photo: Michael Pascalis, September 1999.
Bottom photo: September 2009.
Looking north through an s-bend towards the junction with Waugh Street. Waugh Street provides a connection to the bypass for northbound traffic.
Photo taken: December 2009.
Chinderah Bay Drive looking south towards the junction with Waugh Street. Note the incorrect National Highway Route marker on the sign - it should of course show National Route 1.
Photo taken: December 2009.
Looking north between Waugh Street and Barneys Point, with the current Barneys Point Bridge in the background. Note the layout of road has changed post-bypass to provide a two-way cycleway along the eastern shoulder.
Photo taken: December 2009.
Looking south at the southern of the old Barneys Point Bridge, showing remnant original highway pavement. Prior to the bypass, this was the location of a curved T-junction, where Fingal Drive joined the highway from the left of shot. These days Chinderah Bay Drive leads directly into Fingal Drive with this section of the old highway used only as a parking area for fisherman using the old bridge.
Source: Michael Pascalis, July 1997.
Prior to its partial demolition, the old bridge was left in-situ with the lifting span open to allow river traffic to pass. These wonderful photos, taken by Michael Pascalis, illustrate the bridge almost in the condition it was when the bypass opened.
Source: Michael Pascalis, July 1997.
The old bridge has since been partially demolished, with the opening span utilised in a new bridge over the Richmond River to replace the Broadwater Ferry, and 4 spans at the southern end were retained for use as a fishing platform. This series of photos shows the remains of the bridge and just how popular it is with locals and holidaymakers. Note the faded double yellow centrelines.
Photos taken: December 2009.
A long view across the Tweed River to the remains of the northern abutment. As you can see, only a mound of earth remains and part of the brick lining. Note the truncated water main which was a source of trouble when the bridge opened for many years.
Photo taken: December 2009.
Two views from the north bank back towards the remaining spans on the southern bank, with the new bridge beside.
Photos taken: December 2009.
A close up shot of the remains of the brick-lined northern abutment and former water main.
Photo taken: December 2009.
A southerly view of the northern approach to the old bridge, which was located right where the electricity pole is now. Note the new high level bridge in the background.
Photo taken: December 2009.
Looking north along the old northern approaches at the junction with Noarlunga Street, Banora Point. The roundabout was installed as part of the bypass project. Note the former service station which was, at December 2009, up for sale as a development site.
Photo taken: December 2009.
Looking south towards the former service station and the junction with Noarlunga Street. This would have been a typical urban T-junction prior to the bypass.
Photo taken: December 2009.
Looking north alongside the deep cutting, constructed as part of the 1930s deviation, which marked the ascent of Sexton Hill. The junction with the bypass is located just behind the trees.
Photo taken: December 2009.
Remnant formation of the old highway as it hugs the deep cutting to rejoin the current highway alignment on the way up Sexton Hill. I'm not sure if the pavement is a remnant from the old highway or a newer footpath.
Photo taken: December 2009.
Looking south on Munjingbal Dr where it joins the Pacific Hwy at South Tweed Heads. On the far right is Pioneer Pde, which may have been the route of the highway prior to the construction of the Barneys Point Bridge in the 1930s. If not, there is a little slip road at the junction with Terranora Rd which would have been part of the original highway alignment prior to construction of Barneys Point Bridge. Jan 2005.
Distance sign heading north on Minjungbal Drive from the South Tweed Heads interchange. Jan 2005.
Looking north to the Boyds Bay Bridge over Terranora Creek. Jan 2005.
The old Boyds Bay Bridge, which was two lanes and had an opening span, built as unemployment relief in the 1930s. (DMR)
Great old black AD sign with a NR1 shield, northbound approaching Kennedy Dr. Jan 2005.
Another great old black AD sign, this time on Keneedy Dr approaching Minjungbal Dr & Terranora Tce. Jan 2005.
Newer NR1 sign on Kennedy Dr at Boyds Bay Bridge. Jan 2005.
Looking north along Wharf Street. Jan 2005.
NSW Border sign, looking south along Wharf Street from Griffith St at the NSW/QLD Border. Jan 2005.
National Route 1 sign erected at the NSW/Queensland Border in 1955 to advise motorists of the new route marking scheme. (DMR)

1. Accessed: 12 December 2005
2. Accessed: 12 December 2005
3. Recollections of Lachlan Sims

Last updated 18 February 2012
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