National Route 32
Sydney to Broken Hill

The distance sign heading east from the NSW/SA Border at Cockburn. This is now the western terminus of National Route 32 following the implementation of alpha-numeric route marking in SA. Jan 2005.

In 2013, RMS will be implementing a new alpha-numeric route numbering system. For more information, visit the RMS Website.

Forthcoming alpha-numeric route number:

Length: 1154km

Eastern Terminus: Great Western Hwy & Western Motorway & Governors Dr, Lapstone, NSW

Western Terminus: Barrier Hwy, NSW/SA border, Cockburn

Route taken: Great Western Hwy, Mitchell Hwy, Barrier Hwy

Focal Points: Sydney, Katoomba, Lithgow, Bathurst, Orange, Wellington, Dubbo, Nyngan, Cobar, Wilcannia, Broken Hill, Adelaide

When the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities (NAASRA) was planning the National Route marking system during the early 1950s, National Route 32 was a key route. It would provide a continuous route stretching across many differently named highways from Sydney to Adelaide, via the overland route.

Erection of National Route 32 signs was commenced by the Department of Main Roads (NSW) in 1958 and by June 1959 they had erected the necessary signs from Railway Square in Sydney (junction of Broadway, George St, Pitt St and Lee St) to Nyngan, via the Great Western and Mitchell Highways. Quite intriguingly, my NAASRA map of 1959 shows this route as National Route 30, but someone has come along with a biro and corrected it to say National Route 32. Later maps all show National Route 32 so I have no doubt it was an error, although it could explain why there is no National Route 30 in the system. Also by June 1959, the Highways Department (SA) had erected National Route 32 signs from Gawler (where it terminated) to the town of Peterborough, about 180km north, along Main North Rd and the Barrier Highway.

Erection of route marking signs continued swiftly and by the end of 1961 Sydney and Gawler (Adelaide) were connected by the National Route 32 shield. Interestingly, National Route 32 deviated inland between Terowie and Oodlawirra, via Peterborough until 1968, when the Highways Department (SA) had finished constructing the Barrier Highway and, in the process, had bypassed Peterborough.

Major changes to the course of National Route 32 came in Sydney during the 1970s, 80s and 90s. The construction of the Western Freeway, which was to parellel the Great Western Highway between Ultimo and Lapstone, meant that, as sections were completed, National Route 32 was moved off the Great Western Hwy and onto the freeway. A detailed history of the Western Freeway is available elsewhere on this site so right now I will just list the years when changes to NR32 were made and which part of the Gt Western Hwy was relieved of the NR32 shield:
1972 - Russell St, Emu Plains to Wallgrove Rd, Eastern Creek
1974 - Wallgrove Rd to near Reservoir Rd, Blacktown
1982 - Hawkesbury Rd, Mays Hill to Church St, Granville & Melton St, Auburn to Concord Rd, North Strathfield
1984 - Wentworth St, Granville, to Melton St, Auburn
1986 - Church St, Granville to James Ruse Dr, Granville
1992 - near Reservoir Rd, Blacktown to Hawkesbury Rd, Mays Hill
1993 - Governors Drive, Lapstone to Russell St, Emu Plains
National Route 32 also used a number of short sections of various roads, mainly as interim alignments in between stages of the Western Freeway construction. The biggest change in the Sydney area came in September 1992 when Metroad 4 forever replaced National Route 32 through the Sydney Metropolitan Area. Photos showing National Route 32 before its decommissioning, as well as remnants that survived the coverplating and sign replacements, can be viewed from the links below.

In the 1998/99 financial year, Transport South Australia (TSA) launched its alpha-numeric route marking system for South Australia, thus officially decommissioning all existing routes, including National Route 32, which has become "A32". Whilst National Route 32 may have been officially decommissioned in 1998/99, it was not until 2002 that most of the signs were either replaced or coverplated.

So now National Route 32 is confined to the New South Wales section between Lapstone and Cockburn, a mere shadow of its former self. When NSW introduces its alpha-numeric route marking system it is likely that the existing NR32 will simply become "A32", to match South Australia's signs and to again provide one continous route shield from Sydney to Adelaide.

Explore National Route 32:

Remnants of NR32 in Sydney
Great Western Highway
Mitchell Highway
Barrier Highway (NSW)

Remnants of NR32 in South Australia

Last updated 12 December 2012
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