Macquarie Pass is one of Australia's best drives

Macquarie Pass is a mountain pass located in New South Wales, Australia. The road to the summit is one of the most famous drives in the state.

Macquarie Pass

Where is Macquarie Pass?

The pass is located in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, within Macquarie Pass National Park, about 115 kilometers southwest of Sydney.

Can you drive through Macquarie Pass?

The road to the summit is totally paved. It’s called Illawarra Highway (A48 - Tourist Route 8). The road is narrow, and for the most part, has no centerline; although centerlines have been recently added in a couple of sections.

How long is Macquarie Pass?

The pass is 13.7 km (8.51 miles) long, running east-west from Tongarra to Robertson.

Is Macquarie Pass in New South Wales open?

The road is typically open all year round, with occasional closure due to dangerous weather conditions, landslides, or fire danger. After heavy rains, Macquarie Pass can be closed due to flooding on the top half of the pass. Cars and motorcycle riders may opt to use Jamberoo Mountain Road between Robertson and Jamberoo, while trucks are advised to use Mount Ousley Road (Southern Freeway) and Picton Road as an alternative.

Is Macquarie Pass in New South Wales safe to drive?

The road is very steep (hitting a 9.9% maximum gradient through some of the ramps) and contains a large number of hairpin bends. The corners often have humps or dips in the middle of them, many have a tightening radius, visibility is mostly limited, and there are two extremely tight hairpins. The road has several single-lane sections and is mostly two lanes with double "no overtaking" lines. Most of the road is flanked by a rock or earth bank on one side and a drop on the other side. So if you try it at high speed and get it wrong, well, the consequences are potentially very serious. Perhaps the biggest danger is traffic. On such a narrow winding road, other vehicles sometimes don’t keep completely to their side of the road. Trucks, especially larger ones like semi-trailers, have a particular problem negotiating tighter corners. It is inevitable that, due to their size and length, they will end up at least partly on the wrong side of the road. (On the hairpins, they have to stop and basically do a 3-point turn to get around).

Is Macquarie Pass in New South Wales busy?

The road is very popular with motorcyclists on weekends and public holidays. Wind can blow leaves, twigs, and other debris onto the road. And even if it has rained the previous day, there can still be damp patches in shaded areas. These factors, and the way the road often rises or dips through corners, have brought many riders undone.

Is Macquarie Pass worth it?

The road is very scenic and offers stunning views. It was first opened in 1898. With terrific bushwalking and birdwatching opportunities, wonderful waterfalls, views to the ocean, and the blazing crimson of Illawarra flame trees, the road is well worth a visit if you’re looking for things to do on the south coast.