Dukes Highway (SA)

Heading east from Keith, Jan 2005.

Length: 198km (SA)

Eastern Terminus: Victorian Border, 18km east of Bordertown

Western Terminus: Princes Hwy, Tailem Bend

Interstate Continuation: Continues east through Victoria to Melbourne as the Western Highway

Focal Points: Tailem Bend, Coonalpyn, Keith, Bordertown, Melbourne

Route Overview and History:

The Dukes Highway forms the majority of the Adelaide-Melbourne Link of the National Highway in South Australia. It begins at the Princes Hwy, Tailem Bend, heading east through the lower Mallee through the towns of Coomandook, Coonalpyn, Tintinara, Keith and Bordertown before ending at the Victorian Border, 18km east of Bordertown. It is entirely single carriageway, but with frequent overtaking lanes and most town centres bypassed. Dukes Highway carries the National Highway A8 designation for its entire length, NH-A8 contuing over the border into Victoria as the Western Highway.

The highway traces it origins to the early 1920's races to record the fastest driving time between Adelaide and Melbourne, being much shorter than the original Coorong (Princes Highway) route. The Dukes Highway was included in the great plan initiated by D.V Fleming (first SA Commissioner for Highways) in 1925 to reconstruct and seal all of SA's major roads but nothing was commenced prior to the war. In 1939, at the beginning of the war, the need for serviceable roads became imperitive and a major reconstruction of the Dukes Highway was undertaken between Moorlands and the Victorian Border in 1940. The name Dukes Highway was applied to the route at this time, although the name had been suggested as early as 1928. It replaced the former desgination of Moorlands-Wolseley Main Road.

In 1954 the route's importance as an interstate highway was recognised; being signed as NR8 as part of a trial of National Route marking. The trial was a huge success and the signing of other routes in SA and the other states soon followed. This heightened status, however, was not backed up by more construction with the highway going through a dormant period following the war with the Highways Department's funds and resources focused on other, needier projects.

On the 20th of November 1974 the Dukes Highway was declared a National Highway as part of the Melbourne-Adelaide Link. From this time on, the road was to be fully federally funded while the Highways Department owned and managed it. A detailed planning study for the future development of the Dukes Highway was completed in January 1978 and work commenced on the first project, the Coomandook to Tailem Bend Deviation, in July 1979. Following the completion of this deviation in December 1980 work gradually progressed eastward with many of the town centres bypassed by a matter of metres and/or service roads installed. Sections of the $40 million, 9-year program were let to contractors and for the first time the Highways Department tendered for a contract in competition with private operators. The Department completed the last 4.7km, comprising the Bordertown Bypass, within budget and ahead of time. The highway was officially 'opened' on 4 February 1987 at a ceremony in Bordertown.

Since then, work has continued to provide more frequent overtaking opportunities, especially along the heaviest trafficked section between Bordertown and the Victorian Border. Funding has been included in Auslink for pavement rehabilitation east of Bordertown and it is sorely needed.

In 1998/99 Transport SA launched its rural route marking scheme, replacing the National Highway 8 designation with the National Highway A8 designation. For photos of signage remnants from the former National Highway 8 click HERE.

Notable events in the history of NH8:

26 June 1939 - Dukes Highway named
1940 - Dukes Highway major reconstruction to highway standard
1954 - Signed as NR8
Nov 1974 - Declared a National Highway
1979 - NR8 replaced by NH8
Dec 1980 - Coomandook to Tailem Bend deviation opened to traffic
1981 - Tailem Bend railway overpass
Feb 1987 - Bordertown Bypass & "opening" of Dukes Highway following a 9-year, $40 million upgrade program
1998/99 - Replaced by the alpha-numeric route marking scheme; became National Highway A8

Photos of National Highway A8 - Dukes Highway
On the Princes Hwy eastbound approaching the start of the Dukes Highway in Tailem Bend. Jan 2005.
The first RD sign on the Dukes Highway, heading east from Princes Hwy at Tailem Bend. Note how the Mallee Highway is included on this sign (despite having the old shield). TSA and its predecessors seemed to like this set-up for RD signs where a major route splits off ahead. Many relics of these styles of signs can be found in the mid-north. Jan 2005.
RD sign westbound from the Mallee Highway junction near Tailem Bend. Jan 2005.
RD sign eastbound from Mallee Highway. Jan 2005.
Looking west through Coonalpyn. Jan 2005.
Heading east from Coonalpyn. Jan 2005.
Heading east from Tintinara. Jan 2005.
Rare remaining black sign on the Dukes Highway, heading west from Keith. Jan 2005.
The beginning of the Riddoch Highway in Keith. Jan 2005.
Heading west at the B57 west split near Bordertown. Jan 2005.
Heading west from Bordertown on the A8/B57 duplex. Note no mention of B57 on the sign. Jan 2005.
Black ID signs at a service road on teh western outskirts of Bordertown. Jan 2005.
Looking west to the railway overpass on the Bordertown Bypass. Jan 2005.
Heading east out of Bordertown. Jan 2005.
Looking east between Bordertown and the Victorian Border. Jan 2005.
First westbound RD sign on the Dukes Highway once you enter SA. Jan 2005.
Crossing the border into SA, note the change of surface and the change of highway name, from Western to Dukes. Jan 2005.


Photos of the old alignment of Dukes Highway - Coomandook to Tailem Bend via Moorlands (bypassed in 1980)
The council blade sign that points out "Old Dukes Highway" in Coomandook. Jan 2005.
Looking north on the outskirts of Coomandook of what, until December 1980, was the Dukes Highway. Note the yellow centre lines remaining. Jan 2005.
Looking north on the old highway approaching the Mallee Highway at Moorlands. The Dukes Hwy turned left here and headed to Tailem Bend along what is now the Mallee Highway. Jan 2005.


Photos of the old alignment of Dukes HIghway - Bordertown (bypassed in 1987)
Looking east along the old highway through Bordertown. This section is now the B57 but signage on the ground is non-existant. Jan 2005.

Last updated 1 November 2009
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