Macquarie Pass

Macquarie Pass, one of the Australian best driving roads

Macquarie Pass is one of the most famous roads in New South Wales, Australia. It’s an eight-kilometre-long section of the Illawarra Highway passing through Macquarie Pass National Park. The road is narrow, and for the most part has no centre-line; although centre-lines have been recently added in a couple of sections. The pass is quite notorious for accidents due to its nature, and drivers and riders are required to be cautious.

This section of roadway is very steep, and contains a large number of hairpin bends, resulting in buses and trucks needing to reverse on some of the bends. The road itself was first opened in 1898, and bears the legacy of the era when it was designed. The corners often have humps or dips in the middle of them, many have a tightening radius, visibility is mostly pretty limited, and there are two extremely tight hair-pins. Macquarie Pass links the Southern Highland town of Robertson to the coastal town of Albion Park, descending the Illawarra Escarpment via a very narrow bitumen roadway, which 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 (with armco railing) on the other side. So if you do try it a high speed and get it wrong; well, the consequences are potentially very serious! With terrific bushwalking and birdwatching opportunities, wonderful waterfalls, views to the ocean and the blazing crimson of Illawarra flame trees, Macquarie Pass National Park is well worth a visit if you’re looking for things to do on the south coast.
Perhaps the biggest danger is traffic. The road is winding, in some places only wide enough for one vehicle, and in many places bordered on one side by cliffs and on the other side unprotected by guardrails. On such a narrow winding road other vehicles sometimes don’t keep completely to their side of the road. Trucks though, especially larger ones like semi-trailers, have a particular problem. When 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 hair-pins they have to stop and basically do a 3-point-turn to get around).

The surface of the road is asphalted. The road is very popular with motorcyclists on weekends and public holidays. This stretch of road should not be attempted by novice drivers. 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. After heavy rain, the 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.


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