The New England Highway (A15), Hunter Expressway (M15) and Cunningham Highway (National Highway 15/A15/M15) which all make up Highway 15, is one of the main road links between Sydney and Brisbane. The highway is an inland route connecting Newcastle (in New South Wales' Hunter Valley) and Ipswich, Queensland.
In a nutshell, Route 15 is just an alternative route to the Pacific Highway/Motorway that links Sydney and Brisbane. Whilst a slightly longer route than it's coastal cousin (by approximately 50 km), the New England Highway is often less busy and hence an easier and safer drive. Allow 10 - 12 hours to complete the entire Sydney - Brisbane drive, depending upon traffic conditions.
There are no remote regions along the route, but it still pays to have a car in good mechanical condition, and food and water enough for several hours you could spend waiting for help to arrive if required. You can pick up supplies and anything else you forgot at the towns along the route.
There are many ways to get in and can be accessed at many points along the drive.
Brisbane to Warwick
The Cunningham and Ipswich Highways form the first leg up from Queensland's capital. Note there is a steep, windy section at the Cunningham Gap. Ensure that you can stand those windy conditions and battle motion sickness.
Warwick to Glen Innes
The road passes through the Granite Belt country to Tenterfield in NSW.
Glen Innes to Armidale
The highway joins the intersection of Thunderbolts Way leading to Walcha, at Uralla. Beyond Bendemeer the highway passes over the Moonbi Range. Tamworth is famed for its country music festival and its Big Golden Guitar.
Tamworth to Scone
Scone is the Thoroughbred horse breeding centre of the state.
Scone to Newcastle
The drive between Scone and the coast at Newcastle follows the course of the Hunter Valley, the famed New South Wales wine region. The highway passes through coal mining centres such as Singleton and Muswellbrook, which though not in the wine region do provide cheaper accommodation options than many of the hotels that are around the vineyards themselves.
At Branxton, most vehicles choose to use the Hunter Expressway (M15) and continue on Highway 15 to Bypass Maitland and other towns like Branxton.
- Glen Innes.
- Tamworth. Australia's country music capital.
- Scone. No, not a place for chocolate scones :(.
Most of the route is single carriageway with a 100 km/h speed limit with only an exception at Hunter Expressway (with a 110 km/h limit). Do not be tempted to speed - the police have the route well-covered and there are plenty of static cameras, particularly in NSW. When passing through towns en route, it is necessary to slow down to as little as 50 km/h.
Overtaking opportunities in the form of an extra lane are plentiful along the route - be patient when stuck behind traffic as an overtaking lane is never more than a few kilometres away!
Pay attention to the wildlife warning signs - kangaroos are common in much of the northern NSW region and venture on to the highway particularly around dusk.
The main towns along the route are studded with motels and caravan parks that cater for the holiday traffic on this popular route. Prices are highest in the holiday season. See under the individual destinations for more detail.
As with sleeping options, eateries are also plentiful in the towns passed en route. See under the individual destinations for more detail.