Section: Karuah to Bulahdelah

Looking south at the beginning of Stage 1 of the Karuah to Bulahdelah Upgrade. Nov 2005.

This 36km section of the Pacific Highway was not part of its original alignment. The route of the highway, as proclaimed on 7 August 1928 , followed what is now the Bucketts Way through Stroud and Gloucester en route to Taree. However, this changed in on 22 August 1952 when the Pacific Highway was redeclared on a completely new alignment between Twelve Mile Creek and Purfleet, passing through Karuah, Bulahdelah and Nabiac. Due to the need to bridge the Karuah River and the poor quality of existing roads between Karuah and Bulahdelah the Department of Main Roads decided to seal the Booral-Bulahdelah Road , allowing highway traffic to use the Bulahdelah-Purfleet section of the new highway alignment sooner. Thus, improvements to the Karuah-Bulahdelah section of the new highway alignment were postponed until the other sections north of Bulahdelah could be reconstructed to the appropriate standard. Prior to 1960, only a lightly constructed road that was impassable in wet weather linked the two towns, but this soon changed. Only three years later, on 24 December 1963, the new route of the Pacific Highway was officially opened to traffic, including the notorious Waterholes Gap. Since then, overtaking lanes have been added to this section of the highway and are located at regular intervals for both northbound and southbound traffic.

As part of the Pacific Highway Upgrade programme, launched in September 1996, the section between Karuah and Bulahdelah is to be duplicated. Plans indicate that the work will be largely a straight duplication of the highway, with the existing carriageway to be reconstructed and operate as either the southbound or northbound carriageway. However, in some sections the existing highway is to be become a service road, in order to maintain controlled access conditions. Initially an at-grade seagull intersection will be provided at Myall Way (Tea Gardens turnoff), despite fierce lobbying from a number of local and regional groups. It is believed that the high volume of holiday traffic wishing to enter/leave the highway at this intersection could cause serious accidents unless grade-separation is provided. Seemingly the Roads and Traffic Authority reached some sort of a compromise with the locals, deciding that earthworks will be constructed in such a way as to permit speedy construction of an interchange at a later date. A report into the need for an interchange at Myall Way was promised to be released in June 2005 but as at November 2005 the State Government has not been forthcoming with a report.

Upgrading of the Karuah-Bulahdelah section of the highway has been split into three sections, the first of which was commenced in June 2005 and extends from the Karuah Bypass to 2km north of Myall Way. Stage 1 was opened to traffic on 15 December 2006 with Stages 2 and 3 following as a single project opening in September 2009.

Photos of the Karuah to Bulahdelah section of Pacific Highway
Northern end of Karuah Bypass to southern end of the Bulahdelah Bypass
(57-92km north of Newcastle)
Looking north at the northern end of the Karuah Bypass, showing construction of Stage 1 of the Karuah-Bulahdelah Upgrade underway. Nov 2005.
Looking north across the steel and concrete bridge across Bulga Creek - built between 1960 and 1963 - with construction of the highway on a new alignment in the background. Nov 2005.
Looking south North Arm Cove Road prior to the commencement of Stage 1 of the Karuah-Bulahdelah Upgrade. Aug 2004.
Comparison between the old and new alignments. Note how the old alignment has many more dips and curves that the new alignment. Nov 2005.
Looking south along the new section between North Arm Cove Road and Myall Way.
Source: Patrick McKendry, January 2007.
Looking south between North Arm Cove Rd and Myall Way showing the road reserve wide enough to permit dual carriageways. This section of the highway will be retained as a service roads for properties abutting the existing highway, while dual carriageways are constructed parallel to the west of the current alignment. Aug 2004.
Looking south across Bundabah Creek, just south of Myall Way. This bridge will be demolished following the construction of two new bridges to carry the new dual carriageways. Aug 2004.
Distance sign heading south from Myall Way. Interesting to note that neither Karuah or Raymond Terrace rate a mention, despite their obvious importance as a service towns along the highway. Aug 2004.
The northern end of Stage 1, just north of Myall Way (Tea Gardens turnoff). Nov 2005.
Fertile county between Myall Way and Waterholes Gap. Nov 2005.
Typical stretch of overtaking lane, looking north between Myall Way and Waterholes Gap. Nov 2005.
Looking north at Waterholes Gap. I will be very interested to see how a dual carriageway is constructed through this section. It will probably end up being not much wider than the current four-lane road with only a wire rope median barrier separating opposing traffic flows. Nov 2005.
Looking north at Nerong. Nov 2005.
Looking south at Nerong. Note the *seemingly* steep grade in the background. Not sure whether this is the zoom on the camera accentuating the grade or not. Nov 2005.
Looking north at Burdekins Gap. Nov 2005.
Looking south through Burdekins Gap. Nov 2005.
Heavy traffic approaching the mad rush at an overtaking lane between Burdekins Gap and Buladelah. Nov 2005.
Another view of the highway northbound between Burdekins Gap and Bulahdelah. Nov 2005.
Typical rest area distance sign installed on the highway over the last 2 years to help combat accidents caused by fatigue - this one is looking south between Bulahdelah and Burdekins Gap. Nov 2005.

Photos of the old alignment of Pacific Highway
Karuah to Bulahdelah Stage 1
Tarean Road to Myall Way
The old alignment of Pacific Highway looking south at the southern extent of the Karuah to Buladelah Stage 1 project. The Karuah Bypass commences at the bottom of the hill in the background. Note that half the pavement has been covered with spoil and revegetated - this section of the old highway is used only as an access track.
Source: Adam Sadler, October 2009.

A northerly view from the same spot, showing the end of a northbound climbing lane which began at the bottom of the hill near The Branch Lane. A small truck parking area was located on the western side of the highway at this point - it was obliterated by the construction of the new dual-carriageway highway.
Source: Adam Sadler, October 2009.

Looking south near the connection to Gooreengi Rd (the section of former Pacific Highway which is still in use as a local access road) showing the end of a southbound overtaking lane. North of this point, the former highway pavement remains intact, albeit with the overtaking lanes closed off.
Source: Adam Sadler, October 2009.

Last updated 29 October 2009
© Ozroads 2004-2009.