Lyell Highway

The Lyell Highway (Route A10) is a highway in Tasmania, running from Hobart to Queenstown. It is the one of two transport routes that passes through the West Coast Range, the other being the Anthony Road (B28).

Lyell Highway

Lyell Highway descending towards Queenstown
General information
Length248 km (154 mi)
Route number(s) A10
(Granton – Queenstown)
(Queenstown – Strahan)
route number
State Route 8
(Granton – Queenstown)
Major junctions
SSE end Brooker Highway
Granton, Tasmania
  Zeehan Highway
Boyer Road
Marlborough Highway
Gordon River Road
NNW endHarvey Street
Strahan, Tasmania
Major settlementsNew Norfolk, Ouse, Queenstown
Highway system


The name is derived from Mount Lyell, the mountain peak where copper was found in the late 19th century; the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company was the predominant business in Queenstown for almost 100 years.

Hobart to Central Highlands section

Starting at Granton it winds along the southern side of the Derwent River in a generally north westerly direction to New Norfolk. This section has in the past been susceptible to flooding.[1][2]

At New Norfolk it crosses the Derwent River and winds its way through hilly terrain to Hamilton. Just prior to Hamilton is the turnoff to Bothwell via a sealed route that passes Arthurs Lake and ultimately goes on to Launceston.

Central Highlands section

After Hamilton, the small town of Ouse is the only other population centre on the highway until the former Hydroelectricity town of Wayatinah.

When the highway was first constructed, it made use of existing tracks and roads in the Victoria Valley area, directly north of Ouse, leaving the Ouse and Derwent River valleys and climbing the hilly country through the towns of Osterley, Victoria Valley and Dee before rejoining the present highway near Brontë. This route closely skirts Dee Lagoon, and runs close to several other lakes, particularly Lake Echo. The now-bypassed road is narrow, and unsealed.

When the hydro-electric system was expanding and their works were under construction at Tarraleah, the highway was re-aligned to follow the Derwent River until it passed Tarraleah to provide better access to the area for construction vehicles. The Ouse-Tarraleah section was opened to traffic in August 1940 even though construction work had not finished. After Tarraleah the road climbs steeply out of the Nive River gorge until it re-joins the original route near Brontë.

At Brontë the Marlborough Highway (B11) turns off the main road and leads to the Great Lake, where it joins the Lakes Highway and eventually runs to Deloraine.

A common short-cut is the "14-Mile Road" (C601), a gravel road which cuts across the Nive Plains just after Tarraleah, by-passing the steep Tarraleah Gorge section, re-joining the highway several kilometres past Brontë. It is not a safe alternative as it is a narrow, unsealed road, and can be frequented by log-trucks.

In wintry conditions the whole of the Central Highlands section is susceptible to black ice, and it can be exceptionally bad in the heavily forested section west of Ouse, but it can be encountered all the way to the west coast. Snow is usually encountered in the Derwent Bridge area during most winters and may force closure of the road occasionally for several days.[3] This applies to both the newer Tarraleah section and the older Osterley-Lake Echo-Dee section.

As the highway enters Derwent Bridge it strikes a midpoint between Lake St Clair to the north, and Lake King William to the south.

West Coast section

This section is usually known as that west of Derwent Bridge or Mount King William.[4]

It runs through the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, and through the West Coast Range before reaching Queenstown. There has also been a state reserve along the highway.[5]

The highway did not reach Queenstown until November 1932,[6] and was not properly surfaced for some time after that, and frequently blocked.[7][8]

During construction in the late 1920s and early 1930s it was called the West Coast Road.[9][10]

Due to its altitude, the section of the highway over the plateau between Derwent Bridge and Mount King William is often closed during winter due to ice and snow.[11] It can also be affected by rockfalls.[12]

With the damming of the King River and the creation of Lake Burbury, the highway was re-routed to a narrow point where the Bradshaw bridge could be constructed across the lake.

See also


  1. "Lyell Highway Flooding". The Mercury. Hobart, Tasmania. 8 August 1947. p. 8. Retrieved 12 October 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  2. Tasmania. Dept. of Infrastructure, Energy & Resources (2008), Lyell Highway, Granton to New Norfolk, Department of Infrastructure, Energy & Resources, retrieved 12 October 2012
  3. "SNOW BENDS POLES ON LYELL HIGHWAY". The Mercury. Hobart, Tasmania. 26 August 1946. p. 2. Retrieved 12 October 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  4. Tasmania. Land Information Bureau; Tasmania. Parks and Wildlife Service (1994), Lyell Highway map and notes between Derwent Bridge and Strahan, Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania, retrieved 12 October 2012
  5. Tasmania. Parliament (1979), Management plan for the Lyell Highway State Reserve, April 1979, Govt. Pr, ISBN 978-0-7246-0934-5
  6. Opening day being the 19th of November 1932 - p.5 of Rae, Lou (1999), The Abt Railway and railways of the Lyell Region, L. Rae, ISBN 978-0-9592098-7-7
  7. "Lyell Highway Open". The Examiner (Tasmania). C, (144). Tasmania, Australia. 27 August 1941. p. 4 (LATE NEWS EDITION). Retrieved 19 November 2018 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  8. "Topics of The Day Lyell Highway Not Yet Open". The Examiner (Tasmania). CII, (135). Tasmania, Australia. 17 August 1943. p. 4. Retrieved 19 November 2018 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  9. "THE WEST COAST ROAD". The Mercury. CXXX, (19, 151). Tasmania, Australia. 25 March 1929. p. 6. Retrieved 19 November 2018 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  10. "THE WEST COAST ROAD". The Mercury. CXXXIV, (19, 836). Tasmania, Australia. 5 March 1931. p. 6. Retrieved 19 November 2018 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  11. "LYELL HIGHWAY". The Mercury. Hobart, Tasmania. 27 August 1941. p. 6. Retrieved 12 October 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  12. "Landslide Blocks Lyell Highway". The Mercury. Hobart, Tasmania. 22 September 1950. p. 8. Retrieved 12 October 2012 via National Library of Australia.


  • Blainey, Geoffrey (2000). The Peaks of Lyell (6th ed.). Hobart: St. David's Park Publishing. ISBN 0-7246-2265-9.
  • Whitham, Charles. Western Tasmania: A Land of Riches and Beauty.
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