National Route 38
Gwydir Highway

Heading west from Glen Innes. 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: 582km

Eastern Terminus: Pacific Hwy, South Grafton

Western Terminus: Castlereagh Hwy, 14km north of Walgett

Focal Points: Grafton, Glen Innes, Inverell, Warialda, Moree, Collarenebri, Walgett

RTA Internal Classification: State Highway No. 12

Proclaimed a State Highway: 7 August 1928

Named: 7 August 1928

Route Introduced: 1962

The Gwydir Highway is a vital east-west artery in northern New South Wales, connecting four major interstate highways and the coast with the New England tablelands and western plains. The Highway also runs perpendicular to the three major railway lines, increasing its importance as a freight route. Between Glen Innes and Grafton the Highway descends to the coastal plains via the Gibraltar Range and the infamous kink that is clearly visible on any map.

The Gwydir Highway was proclaimed a State Highway in 1928 and gained the National Route 38 shield in 1962. Both the Highway and National Route 38 were extended from Collarenebri to the Castlereagh Highway in December 1993. For more information on the history and development of the Gwydir Highway, particularly the major deviation between Glen Innes and Grafton, please read the 'history and development' article.

History and Development

List of Notable Events:

7 Aug 1928 - Proclaimed a State Highway and named
Aug 1930 - Bridge over Gwydir River at Gravesend
1930s - Bridge over Barwon River, Collarenebri and highway realignment
9 Dec 1960 - Grafton-Glen Innes deviation opened
Oct 1961 - Bridge over Mann River, Jackadgery
1962 - National Route 38 introduced
May 1966 - Bridge over Orara River, Ramornie
Mar 1983 - Bridge over MacIntyre River, Inverell
Dec 1993 - Fully sealed to Collarenebri and highway extended to near Walgett
Dec 1995 - Bridge over Mehi River, west of Moree

Photos of National Route 38 - Gwydir Highway
AD sign for the Gwydir Hwy, heading north on the Pacific Hwy at South Grafton. Nov 2005.
Heading west approaching the Summerland Way junction at South Grafton. Nov 2005.
Heading east approaching the Summerland Way junction at South Grafton. Note how NR38 makes way for NR1 as the Gwydir Hwy reaches its penultimate intersection. Nov 2005.
Heading east through South Grafton with the jacarandas in full bloom. Nov 2005.
Distance sign heading west from South Grafton. Nov 2005.
The old Gwydir Highway near 'Sweeneys' between Dalmorton and Newton Boyd, showing the 66m tunnel through a rocky bluff in the Little River valley. (DMR).
Hairpin bend on the Gibraltar Range, 45 miles from Grafton, in 1961. (DMR).
Descending the Gibraltar Range, 45.5 miles from Grafton, in 1961. (DMR).
Gwydir Highway skirting thge Mann River at Mulligan's Bluff. 1961. (DMR).
Distance sign heading east from Glen Innes towards Grafton. Jan 2005.
Gwydir Hwy westbound in Glen Innes approaching the New England Hwy duplex. Jan 2005.
A stray NR38 shield on the New England Highway in Glen Innes, about 500m south of the NR38 duplex. Jan 2005.
New England Hwy northbound approaching the Gwydir Hwy duplex. Jan 2005.
New England wy southbound approaching the Gwydir Hwy duplex. Jan 2005.
Gwydir Hwy eastbound approaching the short New England Hwy duplex in Glen Innes. Jan 2005.
Distance sign heading east from Inverell. Note the dual road names - the Gwydir Highway is also part of Fossickers Way from Glen Innes to the western junction with State Route 95 - 3km west of Warialda. April 2006.
The eastern approach to Inverell. April 2006.
Westbound AD sign for the junction with Thunderbolts Way (Tingha Rd) in Inverell. April 2006.
AD sign northbound on Thunderbolts Way just prior to its terminus at the Gwydir Highway in Inverell. Just behind the AD sign, Thunderbolts Way crosses the MacIntyre River on a concrete bridge constructed in 1939/40. April 2006.
Diagrammatic AD sign eastbound on Gwydir Highway (Glen Innes Rd) at the Henderson St roundabout. The alternative route (compulsory for heavy vehicles) around Inverell town centre is via Henderson & Campbell Streets. April 2006.
Looking east along Gwydir Hwy (Otho St) from Byron St (Inverell-Ashford road) in Inverell town centre on a rainy morning. April 2006.
AD sign acting as an ID sign at the junction of Byron & Otho Streets in Inverell town centre. April 2006.
Rather complex diagrammatic AD sign southbound on Byron Street approaching Mansfield St, the northern limit of Inverell town centre. April 2006.
Looking west along Gwydir Hwy (Byron St) between Otho and Campbell Streets, Inverell. April 2006.
Similar AD sign, this time serving eastbound Gwydir Highway traffic just prior to the bridge over MacIntyre River. April 2006.
Dodgy attempt at fingerboard signage (I think!) at the junction with Bannockburn Rd (Main Road No. 187) on the western outskirts of Inverell. April 2006.
Distance sign heading west from Inverell. Note the mention of Fossickers Way, something not seen on directional signage since the Thunderbolts Way intersection. April 2006.
Very unusual distance sign, heading east from Delungra, because it only has a distance for Inverell! I wonder what the story behind this effort is! April 2006.
A variation of the typical rural/outback services signage, heading west into Delungra. April 2006.
Older double-chevron ID sign dating from the mid-1990s. Note the mid-90s style Fossickers Way nameplate/fingerboard. Located at the junction of Gwydir Hwy and Gunnee St, Delungra. April 2006.
Looking east along Gwydir Hwy through Delungra towards the junction with Gunnee St. April 2006.
I can't quite pick it, but there is something not quite right with font/spacing on this distance sign, heading west from Delungra. April 2006.
Distance sign heading west from Warialda. Note how the Fossickers Way nameplate has now becomes white rather than brown. April 2006.
Extremely old and rare National Route 38 trailblazer (there are only 3 in existence that I know of!), facing westbound traffic on Gwydir Hwy at Market St, Warialda. This traiblazer, and its brothers also located in Warialda, almost certainly date from National Route 38's introduction in 1962. April 2006.
Trailblazer 2 of 3, this one faces eastbound traffic at Market St, Warialda. April 2006.
A close-up of the above trailblazer, showing 44 years of weathering. I am surprised the paint for the numerals has not faded/worn off, considering the state of the once-black border. April 2006.
Typical mid-1990s AD sign westbound approaching Stephen St (SR95) in Warialda. Unfortunately this sign does not include the SR95 shield straight, which it should! April 2006.
Trailblazer no. 3 of 3, this time facing westbound traffic just prior to the junction with Stephen St (SR95). April 2006.
Perfect example of a mid-1990s style AD sign, southbound on Stephen St (SR95) approaching Gwydir Hwy in Warialda. Oh wait, the left-pointing arrow appears to be covering an incorrectly-pointing arrow. Tsk tsk. April 2006.
Sign assembly at the Gwydir Hwy/Stephen St junction in Warialda. April 2006.
Looking east to Stephen St in Warialda. April 2006.
Distance sign heading west from Warialda. Note the missing SR95 shield and the white Fossickers Way name patch. April 2006.
Looking west to the western split with SR95, 3km west of Warialda. Fossickers Way leaves the Gwydir Hwy here and heads south to Tamworth via SR95. April 2006.
Double chevron ID sign at the same intersection, facing northbound SR95 traffic. I'm quite shocked to see it correctly shows the NR38/SR95 duplex! April 2006.
Fossickers Way (SR95) northbound approaching Gwydir Hwy. Note the missing NR38 shield for right-turning traffic, and the inclusion of Inverell as a second focal point rather than Yetman (the next focal point on SR95). April 2006.
Distance sign heading west from the above junction. Note the narrow bridge over Warialda Creek, which appears to have been recently strengthened but not widened! April 2006.
AD sign eastbound approaching the SR95 duplex. Note there is no mention of SR95 straight, despite having the Fossickers Way name. April 2006.
Typical "Stop, Revive, Survive" signage found all across the RTA's Northern Region, eastbound 5km west of Warialda. April 2006.
Looking east on a good quality section of the Gwydir Hwy (albeit with some patching), about 8km west of Warialda. April 2006.
Looking east across the range near Hadleigh. April 2006.
A 3km long section of the Gwydir Highway was under reconstruction east of the Gravesend Bridge when i passed through in April 2006. The existing pavement was narrow and in bad condition, particularly at the edges.
Looking east, just east of Gravesend Bridge, showing the existing pavement about to be reconstructed and widened. April 2006.
A large semi-trailer crosses the long and narrow Gravesend Bridge over the Gwydir River. April 2006.
The western approach to the Gravesend Bridge, complete with narrow bridge and low clearance signage. The steel truss structure was constructed by the Main Roads Board in 1928-30 and is quite narrow compared to today's standards. The overhead trusses also present a problem for larger trucks. April 2006.
The bridge over the Gwydir River at Gravesend in 1959. (DMR).
A nearly side-on view of the Gravesend Bridge from the western approach. April 2006.
Dodgy AD sign westbound approaching Elcombe Rd, 2km east of Gravesend. The NR38 shield is extremely non-standard and AD signs should not have distances on them! April 2006.
Similarly dodgy AD sign eastbound approaching Elcombe Rd. April 2006.
Looking east from Gravesend towards Elcombe Rd (just beyond the view of the photo), showing deteriorating pavement with interim edge-sealing. This section will be reconstructed as part of the project currently underway east of Gravesend Bridge. April 2006.
Looking east through the tiny town of Gravesend. April 2006.
Black fingerboard sign at Terry Hie Hie Road, just west of Gravesend. April 2006.
Eastbound sign announcing the reconstruction of the Gwydir Highway at Gravesend. April 2006.
Looking east in the vicinity of Yagobie. April 2006.
Poor quality section of the Gwydir Highway near Yagobie. April 2006.
B-double heading west across the narrow bridge over Slaughterhouse Creek, near Yagobie. April 2006.
Looking east towards the narrow bridge over Slaughterhouse Creek. This sign marks the eastern end of road train permission on the Gwydir Highway. April 2006.
Black painted fingerboard sign with a much newer, non-standard fingerboard underneath - at Biniguy. April 2006.
Narrow, undulating and flood-prone section of the highway alongside the Gwydir River between Biniguy and Pallamallawa. April 2006.
Non-standard fingerboards at the Pallamallawa turnoff. April 2006.
Black "W50" kilometre plate and coach stop, eastbound at the Pallamallawa turnoff. "W" of course refers to Warialda. April 2006.
Typical rural/outback services sign, eastbound approaching the Pallamallawa turnoff. April 2006.
Another narrow section of the highway where some interim edge sealing has helped to mitigate the deterioration of the pavement. Looking east between Moree and Pallamallawa. April 2006.
Black fingerboard sign at the Marambir turnoff, 18km east of Moree. Note how some of the legend has faded more than other parts. April 2006.
Narrow bridge over a creek feeding into the Gwydir River, about 17km east of Moree. April 2006.
Another black fingerboard sign, this time 16km east of Moree. April 2006.
A fledgling avenue of trees on the eastern outskirts of Moree. April 2006.
Gwydir Highway heading east from Moree. April 2006.
Incorrect NR38 shield (should be for right turn - left turn should be NH39) on an altogether unusually designed sign in Moree. Oct 2004.
Southbound on NR38/NH39 approaching the southern split. Oct 2004.
Looking south through Moree town centre on the NR38/NH39 duplex (Balo St/Newell Hwy). Oct 2004.
ID sign pointing Gwydir Hwy traffic towards Collarenebri in Moree town centre. Oct 2004.
ID signs for the Newell/Gwydir Highways duplex in Moree. Oct 2004.
Looking west through Moree along Heber St. Oct 2004.
Unique overdimensional/heavy vehicle route signage, eastbound on Gwydir Hwy approaching Boundary St, Moree. April 2006.
Distance sign heading west from Moree. Note no mention of Walgett - this probably outdates the extension of the Highway in 1993. April 2006.
Pretty compelling sign telling you to take a break from driving in Moree, eastbound about 8km from Moree. April 2006.
Typical view of the Gwydir Highway, eastbound about 15km from Moree. April 2006.
Recently resealed section of highway at a floodway, about 22km west of Moree. I found it interesting to see that none of the many floodways on the Gwydir Highway were constructed in concrete (as is the norm in Queensland and in most other parts of NSW). April 2006.
Looking east about 26km west of Moree, shoing stock grazing alongside the unfenced highway. April 2006.
Non-standard capital letter fingerboard signage, 28km west of Moree. April 2006.
Yet another section of the Gwydir Highway that is subject to flooding. The low-lying and flat nature of the countryside, combined with the rarity that floods are in this area means it is unecomical for the highway to be constructed completely above the flood level. Instead, the highway can be severed periodically during flooding of the Gwydir and Mehi Rivers (the highway is actually on an island in the middle of these two rivers at this location). April 2006.
Typical view of the Gwydir Highway, looking east about 40km west of Moree. This scene almost matches the one in the 1959 photograph below. April 2006.
More non-standard fingerboard signage, which seems to be the norm between Moree and Collarenebri, this time 49km west of Moree. April 2006.
Older (early 90s perhaps?) style of rest area signage seen in the more remote areas of NSW. April 2006.
Narrow 1950s bridge over Browns Creek near Bullarah. This probably replaced a ford/floodway during the progressive sealing of the highway. April 2006.
More non-standard fingerboard signage, this time at a turnoff to Rowena/Burren Junction, near Bullarah. April 2006.
More non-standard fingerboard signage with a fairly new black-on-white road name ID sign, 13km west of Bullarah. April 2006.
More non-standard fingerboard signage, this time at a turnoff for Merrywinebone (a tiny locality on the Burren Junction-Pokataroo railway line), 36km east of Collarenebri. April 2006.
Typical 1950s view of the Gwydir Highway, 18 miles east of Collarenebri. (DMR).
Looking east 120km west of Moree, showing a recently resealed section. Unfortunately I don't think the seal width was extended as part of this job. April 2006.
An assembly of non-standard fingerboard signage at the turnoff to Mungindi, 19km east of Collarenebri. April 2006.
Looking north across the Mehi River, 18km east of Collarenebri. From here until Moree, the Gwydir Highway is actually on an island, located between the Gwydir and Mehi Rivers. April 2006.
Well at least this one doesn't use all upper case lettering! Another fingerboard sign, this time with an incorrect use of a border and no mention of National Route 38! 16km east of Collarenebri. April 2006.
One the wider and better sections of the Gwydir Highway, looking east about 12km east of Collarenebri. April 2006.
Non-standard (but cool!) distance sign heading east from the junction with Burren Junction-Collarenebri Road near Grawin Creek, 9km east of Collarenebri. This sign looks as if it could be a poor replacement for a very old black DMR distance sign. Some of the older DMR designs has the highway name in capital letters without a white background. April 2006.
Northbound AD sign on Burren Junction-Collarenebri Road approaching the Gwydir Highway near Grawin Creek. Again note the use of the highway name in upper case but with no white background - perhaps another poor copy of an old DMR sign? April 2006.
Poorly designed AD sign acting as an ID sign at the intersection with Burren Junction-Collarenebri Rd near Grawin Creek. This is the only sign facing westbound Gwydir Hwy traffic, so lucky there is no traffc and thus plenty of time to sit at the intersection and take in all the focal points! April 2006.
Distance sign for westbound Gwydir Highway traffic, leaving the Burren Junction-Collarenebri Road intersection. The narrow steel truss bridge over Grawin Creek (probably built in the 1930s or, at the latest, the 1950s) is in the background. April 2006.
Heading east along Gwydir Highway approaching the Grawin Creek bridge. As you can see, Road Trains and large trucks cannot stay within their own lane across the bridge so it is advisable to take caution whenever approaching one of these structures. April 2006.
Double-chevron ID sign acting as a fingerboard at the turnoff for Cryon, 2km east of Collarenebri. Note the painted Gwydir Highway name plate that would outdate the installation of this sign, which is also missing a NR38 shield. April 2006.
Distance sign heading east on Gwydir Hwy approaching the Cryon turnoff, 2km east of Collarenbri. Again note similarities to old DMR designs. April 2006.
Looking east along Gwydir Highway (Wilson St) through Collarenebri, showing the tiny commerical precinct. April 2006.
Now this is one interesting sign, located on Gwydir Highway westbound approaching Herbert St in Collarenebri. The signface itself is actually a large sticker, covering the original signface, which was a correctly-designed late-1990s RTA creation. The differences between the old and new signfaces? Firstly, the new one has the wrong shield (should be NR38) and has the focal points of Angledool & Lightning Ridge via Gwydir Highway, rather than the much short (but unsealed) route via Regional Road No. 457 which is now an alternative route. It is extremely unsual to see the use of an internal road number on a directional sign. April 2006.
Non-standard fingerboard sign at the junction of Gwydir Highway and Herbert St, Collarenebri. Note the distances to both Angledool and Lightning Ridge are much shorter via Regional Road 457 which is unsealed. Also note the missing NR38 shield for Gwydir Highway. From 1928 until 1993, this intersection was the western terminus of Gwydir Highway - the remaining 59km of the highway was formerly part of Trunk Road No. 68 which originally stretched from the QLD Border near Mungindi to the SA Border near Renmark, following the Barwon and Darling Rivers. April 2006.
Well-designed AD sign (same style as the original signface 2 photos above) on Regional Road No. 457 (Narran St), heading southeast to the junction with Herbert St (Main Road No. 68) in Collarenebri. The Gwydir Highway is only a matter of two blocks from this intersection. April 2006.
AD sign northeastbound on Gwydir Highway (Herbert St) approaching the junction with Regional Road No. 457 in Collarenebri. April 2006.
Heading eastbound into Collarenebri on Gwydir Highway. I am not quite sure of the story behind this sign. Perhaps it was installed following the 1993 extension of Gwydir Highway from the above intersection west to the Castlereagh Hwy near Walgett. Alternatively, it may be older than the highway extension and is somehow advising motorists of the upcoming beginning of the Gwydir Highway. April 2006.
Strangely, there is no distance sign leaving Collarenebri towards Walgett. Instead this large concrete culvert crossing of Coppocks Creek greets travellers on the western outskirts of Collarenebri. April 2006.
Eastbound about 10km from Collarenebri is this relatively sharp curve (I say relatively sharp because the road is almost dead straight between the Castlereagh Hwy and Collarenebri) with a tipping trucks warning sign. This photo also shows typical road quality between Collarenebri and the Castlereagh Hwy - not bad for a former Trunk Road that is still predominately unsealed. April 2006.
Another typical view of the Gwydir Highway west of Collarenebri. A road train and a caravan in the distance is the cause of the surprising amount of traffic. April 2006.
Looking north-east across 23 Mile Warrambool. "Warrambool" is an Aboriginal word describing the channels that a river uses when it overflows during periods of flood. This particular channel is an overflow of the Barwon River and is located 23 miles north-west of the junction of the Barwon and Namoi Rivers. April 2006.
Very comprehensive RD sign at the beginning of the Gwydor Highway, at the junction with Castlereagh Hwy, 14km north of Walgett. April 2006.
Looking west along the final stretch of the Gwydir Highway with the Castlereagh Highway junction in the distance. Note the non-standard AD sign with no mention of NR55 or Castlereagh Hwy which marks the end of Gwyidr Highway. It is also interesting to see "Angledool" as the focal point rather than Lightning Ridge which is preferred on newer signs. April 2006.
Black sign with a "Gwydir Highway" nameplate that faces southbound Castlereagh Hwy traffic at the beginning of Gwydir Hwy. Note there is no mention of National Route 38, which also ends/begins here. April 2006.
Perfectly-designed black AD sign northbound on Castlereagh Highway approaching the Gwydir Hwy junction. This sign outdates the signposting of NR38 and NR55 and the extension of Gwydir Highway west of Collarenebri. April 2006.
Newer non-standard AD sign, southbound on Castlereagh Hwy approaching Gwydir Hwy. At least this one includes both route markers. April 2006.

Last updated 13 December 2012
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