Queensland Roads


The sunshine state of Queensland has around 180,000 km of roads that pass through the whole state. The variety in these roads is truly remarkable as there is the Pacific Motorway which is eight lanes, and you will also find the unformed tracks in some parts of the state. The Main Roads Department is in charge of the management of 34,000 km of these roads. The state, like all others, has its problem when it comes to road construction. One of the most significant problems is the fact that the population is concentrated in the south-eastern part of the state; there is also heavy rainfall in coastal sites which means there are so many watercourses for you to cross. Another significant problem is that the southwestern part of the state is isolated, and there are still inland rivers with torrential surges for three months in the year.

Route Numbering the state

The route numbering is designed such that motorists will be able to find their way around the state easily by simply using the route shields. However, the current route numbering system in the state is quite confusing as there are so many route numbering systems with the old grout shield systems like the National routes, state routes, and Metro ads, mixing up with the alphanumeric route systems. There are also the decommissioned routes which refer to the routes that are no longer in existence or have been decommissioned.

Aerial view of Caboolture and Bruce highway to Brisbane with Bri
Road trip with motion blur along Ellis Beach near Palm Cove and

National Routes & Highways

This covers the roads in Queensland that fall under the National Route Marking scheme, which was started in 1954 but is no longer in use with the replacement by alphanumeric markings system. Most of the routes designated as National Routes are now decommissioned in part and replaced by a newer route such as a state route, a metro and, or alphanumeric route.

The National Routes & Highways that are still active in the state include

Kennedy Highway & Gulf Developmental Road

Wallangarra-Warwick-Ipswich via New England & Cunningham Hwys

Mount Lindesay Highway

The old route of Cunningham Highway through Ipswich.

Leichhardt and Gore Highways

Ipswich-Yarraman via Esk

Carnarvon Highway (Mungindi to Castlereagh Highway junction)

Birdsville-Normanton via Boulia, Mt Isa and Cloncurry

Thomson Developmental Road

Alphanumeric Roads

The introduction of Alphanumeric Roads in Queensland started in 2000. It has continued till this day, but it is still too early to say whether the whole state will be changed to alphanumeric markings or it will just be the major highways. The plan to use an alphanumeric route system started in 1997 with all the Australian States and Territories agreeing on the conversion so that there can be more uniformity in the routeing system, which will help road users, especially tourists, to find their way around the country more than the shield system that is more prevalent.

The plan was first drafted into a policy statement titled ‘Policy on Road Signing’ before it was finally adopted as the ‘Strategic Tourism Routes’. Eight routes were selected, with the numbering being from 1 to 9; 8 was skipped for a reason.

The Pacific Motorway was the first road construction in the state that adopted the Alphanumeric marking with an M1.

Winding Australian Road near Bega
Australian Aerial Photography


Brisbane and Sydney are the only two cities in Australia that use the Metroad route marking system, and it was adopted in Brisbane in 1995. At first, it was made up of five routes, but the sixth one was later added. Together, the Metro ads constitute the priority roads that access metropolitan areas or go through. For Brisbane, it refers to the roads that bypass the Central Business District. There is one exception to this, which is the Metroid 3 that forms access into the Central Business District from south and north. Due to the topography of the city, there is no major route from the west or east that enters the Central Business District that is worth having as a Metroid, and these roads only get the state road markers.

However, it appears that those who introduced the Metroid didn’t consider how much it would affect the state route system that was already in place. Thus, while they commissioned the National Route 15 and converted it into a state road, there wasn’t any other significant change in the system, and the result is a very complicated system where roads like the State Route 22 is divided into two sections and the State Route 20 is divided into three.

With the introduction of the alphanumeric route system, the number of Metroid that exist have now reduced to a complete route and two part-routes. In 2005, M1 replaced Metroid 1, and by 2008, Metroid 3 and 4 have followed suit. Large portions of metroad 5 and 2 have also been changed into alphanumeric routes, but there seem to be no plans whatsoever to convert or decommission the remaining.

Active Metro ads in Queensland include

Metroid 2 – Granard Road, Riawena Road, Kessels Road & Mt Gravatt-Capalaba Road

Metroid 5 – Western Arterial Road (Toowong to Kedron)

Metroid 6 – Logan Motorway (Gateway Motorway to Pacific Motorway)

Decommissioned Routes

Bruce Highway

Coolangatta – Former route of Pacific Highway/Gold Coast Highway through Coolangatta

Brisbane – South East Freeway, Story Bridge and Gympie Arterial Road

Gold Coast – Gold Coast Highway

Mackay – Original alignment of Bruce Highway

Townsville – Former route of Bruce Highway

Ipswich – Brisbane Road & Warwick Road

Brisbane – Pacific Motorway & Gateway Motorway

Brisbane – Logan Motorway & Gateway Motorway

Brisbane – Pacific Motorway, Inner City Bypass, Lutwyche Rd & Gympie Road

Brisbane – Hale Street to Ashgrove via Paddington

Wallangarra to Brisbane via New England & Cunningham Highways

Southern Queensland – Warrego Highway (Landsborough Hwy junction to Charleville)

Warrego Highway

Capricorn Highway

Landsborough Highway

Mitchell Highway

Gore Highway

State Routes

When the state route system is added to the mix, the numbering here becomes even more confusing. The state route started in Brisbane in 1976, and the major problem with it was the duplication of numbers.

road along the sea


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