Johnstons Creek Route

Note: This article was written in 2005.

Johnstons Creek Route is the name that is commonly given to the proposed county road between Mascot and Annandale, the northern portion of which follows Johnstons Creek, a concrete and brick-lined stormwater channel constructed by the Public Works Department between 1880 and 1900.

The reservation, as it was gazetted under the County of Cumberland Planning Scheme 1951, commenced in Mascot at the intersection of O’Riordan St and King St, heading north along what is now Bourke Road (constructed in 1999 as part of the Airport Rail Link development), crossing Gardeners Road before turning northwest to cross Alexandria Canal and link directly onto Campbell Road. The reserve continues along the southern side of Campbell Road, the western side of Bedwin Road and Edgeware Road, cutting directly through residential areas to Liberty Street at its intersection with Cambridge Street. Thence, the reserve swallows Liberty Street and Kingston Road, with proposed widening confined generally to the western side of existing roads, before passing between Cardigan St and Cardigan Lane to join Parramatta Road. Formerly, the reservation extended north from Parramatta Road, cutting a north-south line from Parramatta Rd at Cardigan St to The Crescent at Williams St. Just north of this point the county road was proposed to interchange with the now-deleted F3 - North Western Freeway, which would have paralleled Victoria Road, connecting with the Gladesville Bridge and, ultimately, the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway. The northern part of this route is shown to the far right of the following scan from UBD's 1973 Street Directory of Sydney, along with unbuilt segments of the F3 - North-Western Freeway and F4 - Western Freeway.


According to Leichhardt Council’s Local Environment Plan 2000 there currently exists no reservation for the road north of the Great Western Highway (Parramatta Road) at Cardigan St, Stanmore. This section of the route was shown in my 1973 UBD but not in my 1979 UBD - it is possible that it was cancelled along with the F3 and F3 during 1977. Within Marrickville LGA, i.e. between Parramatta Road and Barwon Park Road, the reservation was included in the Marrickville Local Environmental Plan 2001; however it was later deleted by an amendment gazetted on 4 July 2008. The South Sydney Local Environment Plan 1998 shows the reservation intact between Bourke Road and Barwon Park Road.

This route was conceived as an important link between the proposed F6 (Southern), F4 (Western) and F3 (North Western) Freeways to the industrial areas at Mascot, St Peters and Port Botany. It would also serve as an inner ring road for the south and western sides of inner Sydney. This purpose is currently fulfilled by a conglomeration of regional roads south of Parramatta Rd (Burrows Road, Campbell Road, Bedwin Road, Edgeware Road, Liberty St, Kingston Rd and Bridge Road), with Main Road No. 655 (Johnston Street) forming the final link with Victoria Road. While Johnston Street has ample width (four lanes plus 45° angle parking) the remainder of the route is characterised by narrow streets with high levels of conflict with local traffic. The Campbell Street section of the currently used route is one of the narrowest roads I have ever seen! Additionally, a large portion of truck traffic uses the Taverners Hill-Sydenham Route (Old Canterbury Rd/Railway Tce/Gordon St/Sydenham Rd/Railway Rd) and this has led to calls for a “Marrickville Truck Tunnel” to supplant both this route and the Johnstons Creek Route.

Unfortunately there is precious little literature on the Johnstons Creek Route proposals. The only section to have been constructed is a small section of Bourke Road in Mascot. The section between O’Riordan Street and Coward Street was constructed in 1988 and the section between Coward Street and Gardeners Road followed in 1999 to compliment the Airport Rail Link project. Both of these sections are four lane divided roads.

The County of Cumberland Planning Scheme recognised that “there is a general lack of well-defined, continuous cross-regional routes which are attractive to through traffic. There is little to distinguish many local streets from roads used as arterials because they tend to have much the same characteristics in terms of width, abutting land use and standard of alignment. As a consequence, through traffic filters along many alternative routes through the street system.”1 Thus, the Johnstons Creek Route was established along an existing thoroughfare of Campbell St/Edgeware Road.

In his report to the Government on the Botany Bay Port Development, Simblist (1977) referred to this route and also a route from Mascot to Blackwattle Bay known as the Johnston’s Creek Route as being worthy of consideration for early construction. The Johnstons Creek Route was seen by him to have possibly greater advantages than the Cooks River Route.

At the request of URTAC, the Urban Transport Study Group of NSW (UTS) carried out an analysis of the two routes and submitted a report in February 1977. The analysis, which was based on freeway standards for each route, favoured the construction of the Cooks River route over the Johnstons Creek route but recommended that the DMR review the design standards for each route in view of reducing the capital cost.

Subsequently, URTAC recommended, and the NSW Government agreed in September 1977, that the Cooks River route be given preference over the Johnston’s Creek route and that the alignment and standard of construction for the route between Kyeemagh and Chullora should be investigated further.

Since this decision, there have been no further official plans to construct the Johnstons Creek Route, and it may indeed be the case that, following this decision by the State Government in September 1977, that the reservation north of Parramatta Road was deleted from local planning schemes.

The issue of Johnstons Creek Route was raised again on 15 March 2005 when the then Transport Minister, Michael Costa, overturned a decision by the previous Transport Minister, Carl Scully, to abandon future construction the F6 - Southern Freeway between St Peters and Waterfall. As well as causing a storm within his own political party, Costa opened a can of worms regarding possible access roads to/from the Southern Freeway. With the corridor ending at the southern end of Euston Road in Alexandria, it is likely to dump traffic onto a number of sub-standard secondary roads, likely to result in large increases in traffic along Campbell St/Edgeware Road as well as Railway Rd/Sydenham Road. A ‘Marrickville Transport Action Group’ was formed to lobby and oppose both the Johnstons Creek Route and Marrickville Truck Tunnel, requesting that residents should meet with the Planning Minister to encourage him to rezone the corridor, thus removing the spectre of demolition from the heads of those living in the reservation.

In response, the Minister for Roads formally abandoned the ‘major part of the Johnstons Creek Road Corridor Reservation between Parramatta Road and the Illawarra Rail Line’ on 17 March 2006.2 However, the Government has not ruled out the provision of additional traffic capacity by means other than a surface arterial or freeway.

As yet, the State Government has not made a commitment either way for the F6, the tunnel or the Johnstons Creek Route. With the deferral of the M4 East planning process a decision is not likely to be forthcoming for some time.


Botany Bay Port and Environment Inquiry (Mr S.H. Simblist, Q.C, Commissioner);Report of the Botany Bay Port and Environmental Inquiry (1977).

Department of Main Roads & Planning and Environment Commission; Report on the Kyeemagh-Chullora Route Study (1979).

NSW Government Commission of Inquiry into the Kyeemagh-Chullora Road (Mr D.S. Kirby, Commissioner); Kyeemagh-Chullora Road Inquiry (1981).


1.Department of Main Roads & Planning and Environment Commission; Report on the Kyeemagh-Chullora Route Study; May 1979; p.1
2. Marrickville Council; Agenda of Development & Environmental Services Committee Meeting; 3 July 2007; p.2

Last updated 2 April 2011
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