Highway One: Sydney’s harbour tunnel

By Catherine Lawson 7 November 2013
Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page
While it’s a daily grind for some, Sydney’s harbour tunnel is quite a marvel to travellers.

Catherine Lawson and David Bristow, along with baby Maya, are doing a lap of Highway One, the road that circles Australia. 

ON A BIG LAP like ours, it’s rarely possible to see every destination at its best – in the right season, with perfect weather, and timed to catch some spectacular natural occurrence like whale watching or a local festival in full swing.

Our travels along NSW’s enormously popular South Coast coincided with summer school holidays, a crazy time to brave beachside campgrounds abuzz with the noise and chatter of a dizzying throng of families having fun.

We were forced to share our journey along this string of blissful coastal havens from Eden to Nowra with crowds, finding respite on bushwalking trails in Mimosa National Park and our new favourite – Morton National Park.

But our bustling adventure prepared us for the increasingly hectic pace of Highway One as we approached Sydney and when we did, the challenge of finding a CBD parking space for an oversized campervan too tall for high-rise parking stations. Remarkably, we negotiated the city’s maze of one-way streets with ease – thanks in no small part to an open laptop and Google maps – and swiftly joined the stream of traffic pouring into the Harbour Tunnel.

Built 20 years ago to alleviate traffic on the Harbour Bridge, the tunnel carries an estimated 90,000 vehicles a day. For local commuters it provides convenient passage in and out of the city, but for out-of-towners, it’s a bit of an underwater thrill that at its deepest point takes us 25m beneath the harbour.

And as luck we have it, our south-to-north drive means we don’t have the hassle of trying to pay the $4 tunnel toll, which is only levied at vehicles travelling in the opposite direction.

…More Highway One articles
Australia’s 18 top camping spots
Camping: the classic Aussie past-time
Top 5 great Aussie road trips
Australian Geographic’s top 100 icons of all time
Top 10 Australian outback experiences
Wilderness by bike: the Munda Biddi Trail
Predict the weather without a forecast
Rottnest Island’s best beaches
Touring the Kimberley from the aerial highway
Australia’s 8 greatest surf spots
6 great Australian train trips
Best winter escapes in Australia
Travel photography tips
10 best kayak day trips in Australia
18 of the best day walks in Australia
Massive new Indigenous Protected Area declared
Gallery: The top five greatest Aussie road trips
Indian Pacific celebrates 40 years