TASMANIA - Former State Route marking system
One of the very few remnants of the former State Route marking scheme - this sign is facing eastbound traffic on Brisbane St (A7) in Launceston. Source: Josh Geoghegan, Dec 2004.
Prior to 1979, there existed a system of State Routes in Tasmania. This system was based on the policy of State Route marking, adopted by the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities (NAASRA) at their 24th meeting, in November 1961.
The State Route system was introduced in the 1960/61 financial year, and the Report of the Director of Public Works for the Year 1961 makes the following mention of route marking:
"Nine major through highways have been zoned and route marking signs have been erected on Route 1 between Bell Bay and Hobart, and on Route 2 between Launceston and Somerset. It is proposed to complete erection of signs on these and on the other seven major routes during 1961-62 with the standard State Route marker. Road maps now incorporate these route numbers."
The nine routes were based primarily on the State Highway network of the time, and, whilst they provided route marking on the primary routes through the State, the route marking system's usefulness was diminished by the fact that the marked routes also had easily-identifiable route names. Furthermore, outside of the state routes, signposting to/from/between other towns and tourist destination was below standards for consistency. This combination of factors and an investment in the tourism industry towards the end of the 1970s led to the conversion to an alpha-numeric route marking system in 1979.
The section below provides a snapshot of each former State Route and photos of remnant signs. If you have a photo showing an obsolete State Route shield or sign, please submit it to email@example.com.
Overview of former Tasmanian State Routes
(compiled from old maps, not an official source)
Note: Highway names and alignments referred to in the short description are based on those in existence in 1960 - I have explained the alignment in terms of current roads in the longer descriptions.
Southport (Hythe) to Low Head
State Route 1 was the primary north-south route in Tasmania, running from the bottom of the state at Southport to the top of the state at Low Head Lighthouse.
When first introduced, its route was:
From the end of the Huon Highway at Southport (Hythe), thence via the Huon Highway (A6) to near Longley, thence via Huon Road and Davey Street (B64) to Hobart, thence through Hobart CBD via Davey Street (A6), Dunn Street, Market Place, Collins Street (Macquarie Street for southbound traffic) and Brooker Avenue (NH1), thence via Brooker Highway (NH1), Elwick Road, Main Road, Midland Highway (NH1), and Hobart Road to Launceston, thence through Launceston via Wellington St (NH1), Brisbane St (A3) and Tamar St, thence via Invermay Road, George Town Road, East Tamar Highway (A8) and Low Head Road (A8) to the entrance to Low Head Lighthouse.
Note that this route takes in a number of roads that would not, today, be used for long distance travel. It is important to remember that in the 1960s and 1970s, many of Hobart and Launceston’s major arterial roads were only just being constructed.
Following its introduction, State Route 1 only changed route due to changes in the road network, e.g. extension of Brooker Highway in Perth. Notable changes of in the route of State Route 1 include:
As part of the introduction of the new ‘Route Number Coding System’ in 1979, State Route 1 was, for the lack of a better term, officially decommissioned. Signage was gradually replaced along the full length of the route - the National Highway 1 section was undertaken first - until the introduction of new routes was completed in 1986.
On its day of decommissioning in 1979, the route of State Route 1 was:
From the end of the Huon Highway at Southport (Hythe), thence via the Huon Highway (A6) to near Longley, thence via Huon Road and Davey Street (B64) to Hobart, thence through Hobart CBD via Davey Street (A6), Dunn Street, Market Place, Collins Street (Macquarie Street for southbound traffic) and Brooker Avenue (NH1), thence via Brooker Highway (NH1), Claremont Link Road, Main Road, Midland Highway (NH1), and Hobart Road to Launceston, thence through Launceston via Wellington St northbound/Bathurst Street southbound (NH1), Brisbane St eastbound/George & York Streets westbound (A3) and Tamar St, thence via Invermay Road, George Town Road, East Tamar Highway (A8) and Low Head Road (A8) to the entrance to Low Head Lighthouse.
Launceston to Marrawah
State Route 2 was an east-west route across the north of Tasmania, stretching from Launceston in the east to Marrawah in the west, and following the Bass Highway for almost its entire length.
State Route 2’s alignment when first introduced was:
From the junction of Wellington St & Westbury Rd, Launceston, via Westbury Road and Bass Highway (NH1 + A2) to the junction of Bass Highway, Arthur River Rd & Comeback Rd, near Marrawah.
This description of the route does not change over State Route 2’s lifespan, however many sections of the Bass Highway were improved, realigned and relocated. I do not have comprehensive details on these changes as yet, but it does not really matter for the purposes of following State Route 2. At any point in time 1960-1979 it followed Westbury Road and Bass Highway, whatever their alignments may have been at the time.
Hobart to Launceston
State Route 3 is almost entirely replicated by today’s route A3, which follows the Tasman Highway from Hobart to Launceston. Its primary purpose is to connect Hobart with Port Arthur (via Sorell) and the coastal towns, as well as providing a link to Launceston for tourist traffic.
Upon introduction, State Route 3’s route was:
From the intersection of Brooker Ave & Liverpool St, Hobart, via Liverpool St and Tasman Highway (A3) to Chain Of Lagoons, thence via Elephant Pass Main Road (A4) to St Marys, thence via Esk Main Road (A4) and Tasman Highway (A3) to Launceston, thence through Launceston via Hoblers Bridge Road, Elphin Road and Brisbane Street, to the junction of Brisbane and Tamar Streets, Launceston.
The route remained in this configuration up until its decommissioning in 1979.
Conara to St Marys
State Route 4 is almost entirely replicated by today’s route A4, with the exception of the legs north and south of St Marys. At the time of State Route 4’s existence, the Tasman Highway (and thus State Route 3) still went via St Marys, rather than following the coastline to Falmouth as it presently does.
The route of State Route 4 at the time of introduction was:
From the intersection of Midland Highway & Esk Main Road at Conara Junction, via Esk Main Road to the junction of Esk Main Road & Elephant Pass Main Road, St Marys.
There were no changes to the alignment of State Route 4 prior to its decommissioning in 1979.
Melton Mowbray to Deloraine
State Route 5 is replicated in the current route marking system by route A5, which follows the Lake Secondary Road from Melton Mowbray to Deloraine. It was, and still is, the main access route to or from the Highland Lakes region but most of the route remains unsealed to this day.
The route of State Route 5 at the time of introduction was:
From the intersection of Midland Highway & Lake Secondary Road, Melton Mowbray, via the Lake Secondary Road to the intersection of Meander Valley Secondary Road & Lake Secondary Road, Deloraine.
It should be noted that, at the time of State Route 5’s existence, Lake Secondary Road was actually the Lake Highway, hence its inclusion in a route marking system primarily concerned with the State Highway network. It should also be noted that the Meander Valley Secondary Road is actually the former route of Bass Highway - at the time of State Route 5’s existence, Bass Highway (former State Route 2) passed through Deloraine.There were no changes to the alignment of State Route 5 prior to its decommissioning in 1979.
Hobart to Huonville
State Route 6 is replicated in the current route marking system by route B68, which follows Sandy Bay Road and the Channel Highway from Hobart to Huonville. It was never meant as a through route to Huonville - the former Huon Highway through Fern Tree and later the Southern Outlet were the preferred routes - but as a connection between Hobart, Kingston and the Channel country.
The route of State Route 6 at the time of introduction was:
From the intersection of Davey Street & Harrington Street, Hobart, via Harrington Street, Sandy Bay Road and Channel Highway, to the intersection of Huon Highway & Channel Highway at Huonville.
There were no changes to State Route 6 prior to its decommissioning, despite the construction of the Hobart Southern Outlet (now route A6) between Hobart and Kingston, which could have replaced the route along Sandy Bay Road.
State Route 6 also had about 36km of unsealed pavement, between Gordon and Cygnet, at the time of introduction.
Sorell to Port Arthur
State Route 7 is replicated in the current route marking system by route A9, which follows the Arthur Highway from Sorell to Port Arthur. It provided the only connection between Hobart and the Tasman Peninsula, as well as the tourist attraction of Port Arthur.
The route of State Route 7 at the time of introduction was:
From the intersection of Tasman Highway & Arthur Highway, Sorell, via the Arthur Highway to the intersection of Arthur Highway & Safety Cove Road, Port Arthur.
Now, I have nominated that junction in Port Arthur as the southern terminus of State Route 7 as it was the southern terminus of the Arthur Highway at the time. None of the maps I have in my possession were able to show this area in sufficient detail to determine whether the terminus of State Route 7 was any different. So it will do for now.
There were no changes to State Route 7 prior to its decommissioning.
Hobart to Somerset
State Route 8 was probably the most fascinating of the former State Routes, being introduced immediately following the construction of the Murchison Highway, which completed the route from Hobart to Burnie via Queenstown. It is replicated today, in the most part, by route A10.
The route of State Route 8 at the time of introduction was:
From the intersection of Midland Highway & Lyell Highway at Granton, via Lyell Highway to Queenstown, thence via Zeehan Highway to the junction with Murchison Highway near Zeehan, thence via Murchison Highway and to the intersection of Bass Highway & Murchison Highway at Somerset.
It should be noted that, at the time, the Lyell Highway did not pass through Tarraleah, instead leaving the current alignment at Ouse, passing through Osterly, Victoria Valley, and around the southern side of Dee Lagoon, rejoining the current alignment near the junction with Marlborough Secondary Road at Bronte Park. It should also be noted that, at the time, the section of Murchison Highway between Waratah Main Road and the Bass Highway was part of Waratah Highway.
The only change to the route came with the relocation of Lyell Highway via the former Tarraleah Highway around 1971.
State Route 8 was unsealed for more than half its length when it was introduced in about 1960, however sealing was undertaken rapidly and was completed in 1973.
Launceston to Devonport
State Route 9 formed an alternative link between Launceston and Devonport, replicated in the current route marking system by routes A7 (Launceston to Exeter) and B71 (Exeter-Frankford-East Devonport). Its role appears to have been a dual one; providing access to the western Tamar River valley, as well as providing an alternative route to the Bass Highway between Launceston and Devonport. The decision to declare Bass Highway part of the National Highway system in 1974 meant that the role of State Route 9 diminished.
The route of State Route 9 at the time of introduction was:
From the intersection of Wellington Street & Brisbane Street, Launceston, via Wellington Street, Paterson Street, and West Tamar Highway to the intersection of West Tamar Highway & Frankford Main Road, Exeter, thence via Frankford Main Road and Port Sorell Main Road to the intersection of Bass Highway and Port Sorell Main Road near East Devonport.
The only change in route came at the Launceston end, with a one-way street system introduced prior to 1972, resulting in Brisbane Street being used for westbound State Route 9 traffic.
The Frankford Main Road was originally not a fully sealed road, but its sealing was completed prior to the end of the 1960s.
Last updated 7 February 2009
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