Section: Taree

Looking south from the bridge over the Manning River North Arm onto Dumaresq Island. Aug 2004.

This 9km section of the Pacific Highway includes the Taree Bypass as well as the former route of the Pacific Highway through Purfleet, Taree, Chatham and Cundletown.

Since its proclamation as a State Highway in 1928 the Pacific Highway has always passed through Taree. A ferry was used to carry highway traffic across the Manning River at Tionee until 1937 when the two-lane steel truss Martin Bridge was constructed by the Department of Main Roads as unemployment relief. Opening of the bridge relocated the highway from Tionee via Purfleet and across the Manning River floodplain to Commerce Street at Taree.

Also during the 1930s the Department of Main Roads relocated the highway through Taree as part of its ongoing improvements to the highway. The 1935 Annual Report of the DMR describes the work: “The work was commenced at Taree and, to avoid the existing level crossing on the North Coast Railway at the northern end of High Street, Taree, the route of the Highway has now been diverted from High Street to pass along Victoria Street using the existing timber bridges over Browns Creek and crossing a branch railway line leading to the deep water wharf. The original route of the Highway is rejoined at a point 1.5 miles from Taree Post Office.” The original route of the highway was from the Bucketts Way at Tionee, via Claxton St, Ctton St and Edinburgh Drive to High St, thence via High St , High St North , Kanangra Dr and Copwer Street to Chatham .

Further north, at Cundletown, a timber bridge across the Dawson River was constructed in 1879. This bridge weathered some severe floods until it was replaced by a steel truss bridge in 1933.

For many years the Pacific Highway at Taree was a major bottleneck and the narrow Martin Bridge over the Manning River was the scene of several accidents. As part of a five-year programme for upgrading the Pacific Highway , construction of the state-funded Taree Bypass was commenced in July 1993. Traversing the Manning River floodplain to the east of town, almost 3km of bridges were required for the bypass which, since opening, has shortened the Pacific Highway by 5km and cut 10min off travel times. Costing $119 million to build, the bypass was opened in two stages - the first of which was a two-way single carriageway in December 1997. The second carriageway, which upon opening became the southbound carriageway, was opened to traffic in April 2000.

The route of the old highway has now been renamed Manning River Drive, although the local street names of Victoria Street, Crescent Ave, Oxley St, Chatham Rd and Cowper Street through Taree and Main Street and Princess Street through Cundletown are preferred on signs. A large section (~2km) of the abandoned highway remains, southwards from Purfleet. North of the Cundletown interchange, a 1.2km section of the old highway remains on the eastern side of the new alignment, as Oxley Bend Rd.

Current Pacific Highway route (Taree Bypass)
Looking north at the southern end of the Taree Bypass. Note the original highway alignment leading off to the left and now blocked by a wire fence. Nov 2005.
Northbound "bypassed town" AD sign for the Old Bar Rd interchange. Nov 2005.
Tourist Drive loop AD sign for Tourist Drive 8, northbound approaching the Old Bar Rd interchange. Nov 2005.
Distance sign heading south from Old Bar Rd. Oct 2005.
AD sign located just off the northbound exit ramp at Old Bar Rd. Nov 2005.
AD sign for the Pacific Hwy, heading west on Old Bar Rd. Note the clearing behind the sign which is where Old Bar RD used to go prior to commencement of the Taree Bypass in 1993, during which it was relocated about 50m to the north. Oct 2005.
Southbound AD sign for the Old Bar Rd interchange. Note "Wingham" is on a coverplate over "Gloucester". Also note the wrong colour for the TD8 shield. Aug 2004.
Looking north to the twin bridges over the Manning River North Arm. Aug 2004.
Northbound AD sign for the northern interchange at Cundletown. Aug 2004.
Distance sign heading north from the Cundletown interchange. Aug 2004.
Southbound ID sign for the Cundletown interchange. Nov 2005.
Looking south at the transition between Taree Bypass and Taree-Coopernook sections. You can just make out a gap in the trees on the left hand side of the road at the corner - this is where the Pacific Hwy ran prior to opening of the bypassed. This old alignment can be accessed a bit further south as Oxley Bend Rd. Nov 2005.
Old Pacific Highway through Taree (1928-1997)
Looking south along the old Pacific Highway south of Purfleet where an earth embankment prevents traffic from rejoining the current alignment. Oct 2005.
Looking south from Purfleet along an abandoned section of the old highway. You can just make out the beginning of an overtaking lane which then ends abruptly at the embankment shown in the above photo. Oct 2005.
Looking north at the formerly signalised (?) intersection with Bucketts Way and Old Bar Rd in Purfleet. Also note how the old southbound carriageway is no longer in use and the old line markings making things rather confusing for anyone other than a local. Oct 2005.
Remnant northbound AD sign for Bucketts Way. Note the heavy coverplating on the top panel - covering "Pacific Hwy/NR1" - as well as a rare reference to "The Bucketts Way". Nov 2005.
Looking north from the above sign towards the new intersection with Old Bar Rd & Bucketts Way. You can make out where the former southbound carriageway has had palm trees planted in the middle of it. Nov 2005.
Looking north from Old Bar Rd/Bucketts Way along Manning River Dr (old Pacific Hwy). Note the heavy traffic on a thursday morning merging into one lane to cross the Manning River and floodplain. Nov 2005.
Looking north across the Manning River floodplain. Nov 2005.
Remnant NR1 shield on AD sign northbound approaching Martin Bridge over the Manning River. Nov 2005.
View of heavy Pacific Highway traffic using the extremely narrow Martin Bridge prior to opening of the Taree Bypass in 1997. Photo thanks to Shayne Kerr.
AD sign southbound on Commerce Street approaching the old highway (Manning River Dr & Victoria St). It is clear to see where a NR1 shield once stood on the sign. Nov 2005.
Looking south onto the bridge from the intersection of Commerce St & Victoria St. Nov 2005.
The old highway (Victoria St) looking southwest between Manning St & Pulteney St. Nov 2005.
Looking northeast from the same location. This street was formerly a six-lane highway but was beautified and traffic-calmed since the full opening of the Taree Bypass in 2000. Nov 2005.
Looking northeast near Browns Creek. Nov 2005.
Looking northeast at the railway overpass near Chatham. Nov 2005.
Looking north along a remaining six-lane section with old style concrete pavement through Chatham. Nov 2005.
Remnant distance sign heading north through Chatham. Note the green sticker covering "Pacific Hwy" & a NR1 shield. Nov 2005.
Looking south to the narrow steel truss bridge over the Dawson River at Cundletown. Nov 2005.
Looking east along Main St in Cundletown. Nov 2005.
One of the many right-angle bends that once confronted Pacific Hwy travellers between Taree and Coopernook. This particular one has been eliminated by the Taree Bypass - the old highway continues to a dead-end straight ahead while to the right is a link road which takes traffic from the old highway to the Cundletown interchange. Nov 2005.

Back to Pacific Hwy