Section: Dirty Creek Range

Looking north along the Dirty Creek Range Deviation. Nov 2005.

The Dirty Creek Range is notorious among regular users of the Pacific Highway and presents the most difficult engineering obstacle between Coffs Harbour and Ballina. It is located between Corindi and Halfway Creek, 41-50km north of Coffs Harbour .

In the newly-formed Department of Main Roads’ 1933 Annual Report it is noted that “in Dorrigo Shire, work was commenced on a deviation 2 miles long between Dirty Creek and the Shire boundary [near Halfway Creek] to eliminate steep grades and improve alignment”. This work was constructed to a gravel-surfaced standard and opened to traffic in March 1934. Any remnants of the original alignment are long gone.

The fact that this deviation had been to constructed to 1930s standards of road construction meant that as the condition of the highway gradually improved elsewhere, the difficult terrain at Dirty Creek began to stand out like a sore thumb, demanding attention to relieve the strain of the hill climb on the tortuous alignment. In the mid-1980s the call was answered as construction commenced on a 6.5km deviation of the highway across the range. The project involved the construction of the highway on a new alignment, utilising extensive cuts and fills to minimise the need for a curved alignment and the provision of overtaking lanes along much of the deviation. It was opened to traffic in March 1987. Remnants of the old alignment are still trafficable and exist mainly to serve properties that fronted the old highway. Some sections of the old alignment are now known as Dirty Creek Rd and Falconers Lane .

Not satisfied with the standard of road achieved by this deviation, the Dirty Creek Range section of the Pacific Highway was included in the Woolgoolga to Wells Crossing planning project, which was commenced in November 2004. Currently in the route options development stage, construction is not anticipated for at least five years. All proposed options would involve realignment at the Dirty Creek Range with cuttings 20-40m deep to reduce the hill climb. A bypass of Corindi village would also be preferable in order to maintain strict access control along the upgraded highway.

Looking north along the Dirty Creek Range Deviation. Nov 2005.
Looking south. Nov 2005.
Looking south at the beginning of the deviation. Nov 2005.

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