M1 - Princes Freeway / Highway West
Linking Melbourne and Geelong

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Princes Freeway southbound before C115 Exit, Corio. November 2005




Designated Names (as of 2006)

Complete Name List - Column 1 & 2
Road Classification

Column 3

Princes Freeway West Western Ring Road - Broderick Road Freeway #1500
Princes Highway West Broderick Road - Anglesea Road Arterial #6500

Geelong Road

Colloquial name for entire freeway section


in Kilometres


Northern Terminus

Western Ring Road (M80) / West Gate Freeway (M1) Interchange, Brooklyn

Southern Terminus

Anglesea Road (C134), Waurn Ponds

Route Numbering

National Route 1 (1955)
M1 (1997 - Princes Fwy section)
A1 (1997 - Princes Hwy section - see route numbering section)
M1 (1998 - Princes Hwy section)


Route Numbering

M1 West Gate Freeway east of Western Ring Road, Brooklyn

A1 Princes Highway West west of Anglesea Road, Waurn Ponds



The M1 Princes Fwy West (48 km) and the M1 Princes Hwy West (19 km) forms the main transport corridor between Melbourne and Victoria's second largest city, Geelong. The Princes Freeway is fully duplicated eight lane freeway between the Western Ring Road and C109, and six lanes to the edge of Geelong's urban area. Upgrades for this section of freeway were completed in 2002, totalling $120 million, involving extra lanes, flood management, central wire rope barrier and numerous interchange upgrades. As a result of safety review, the speed limit was dropped from 110 km/h to 100 km/h. 


Through Geelong, the Princes Highway forms the backbone as a north - south dual carriageway arterial catering from interstate / intrastate travel, and also for travellers to the Great Ocean Road. The Princes Highway connects with the Midland Highway (A300), Bellarine Highway (B110), Hamilton Highway (B140), Surf Coast Highway (B100) as well as numerous other arterials.


During 2006, the works for the 23 km western bypass of Geelong commenced, with construction expected to be completed by 2009. The Geelong Bypass (Geelong Ring Road)s, funded by both Federal and State Governments at a cost of $380 million, will ultimately provide a freeway bypassing 23 sets of traffic lights. Interchanges provided along the route are location at the northern end of the bypass, Midland Highway, Hamilton Highway, Barrabool Road, and at the southern end. When the bypass is complete, the proposal is to shift M1 on to the bypass, while the current route through Geelong would be allocated A10 as its new route number 1.


Snapshot - Route Numbering

The Princes Highway and Freeway was one of the first routes to receive the 'National Route 1' route number under National Route Numbering Network in 1955. The original alignment (from Melbourne GPO) was via Elizabeth St, Flemington Road, Princes Highway West (Racecourse, Smithfield, Geelong Roads - see MR83), before meeting Princes Highway which at that stage was undergoing major duplication works. In 1961, National Route 1 (NR1) was realigned onto the Maltby Bypass (Werribee Bypass Road) following the construction of Victoria's first bypass road. Through central Geelong, the original path (from the Melbourne-Geelong railway overpass) was via Mercer St, Malop St, Moorabool St and High St before meeting today's alignment of Princes Highway at Settlement Road near Surf Coast Highway.


In 1978, NR1 was moved from Racecourse, Smithfield, Geelong Roads onto the West Gate Freeway in 1978. This section was replaced by Alternative National Route 1 (ALT NR1), which was later replaced by Metropolitan Route 83 ten years later.


In 1990, with the opening of the Latrobe Tce and Settlement Road realignment, NR1 was realigned via this new route which provided a bypass of the Geelong city centre. Before this, NR1 had taken Latrobe Tce up to Fyans St, turning eastward than southward along Moorabool St and High St.


In 1997, with the implementation of the Statewide Route Numbering Scheme, the Princes Highway and Freeway was one of the first major routes to trial the new system. The entire Princes Freeway was rebadged as M1, and the Princes Highway between Broderick Road in Corio and Anglesea Road in Waurn Ponds was designated as A1 in 1997. Within a year, a decision was made to include A1 section as an M route (M1), under the guideline set for M Routes - being routes which were dual carriageway, major regional connector - which this section of the Princes Highway satisfied. And thus the A1 signs were promptly coverplated with M1.

Examples of the original A1 signs can be found here.

The next proposed route numbering change will occur when the Geelong Bypass opens in 2009. As mentioned above, the current route through Geelong will be allocated A10 while M1 will be rerouted on to the bypass 1.



1920 - Prince's Highway name first designated on subsequent alignments.

1925 - Official classification of Princes Highway as a state highway under State Highways and Vehicles Act 1924.

1928 - Moorabool St bridge over Barwon River constructed.

1939 - Laverton North deviation built to permit the expansion of nearby RAAF airfield.

1955 - Duplication works begin on Princes Highway between Brooklyn and Norlane.

1959 - Reconstruction of Princes Highway through Geelong begins.

1959 - Land is reserved for future, now under construction, Geelong Bypass.

1961 - Maltby Bypass opened.

1962 - Duplication works of Princes Highway (Brooklyn - Norlane) complete.

1967 - Moorabool St bridge over Barwon River widened.

1970 - Six lane overpass of Melbourne - Geelong Railway at Separation St.

1970 - Dual carriageways between Separation Street rail overpass and Bell Parade completed.

1971 - Dual carriageway to Anglesea Road.

1971 - Lara, High St/Newland St and Point Cook Road interchanges completed.

1974 - Freeway upgrade works complete between Brooklyn and Corio, roadway reclassified as 'Princes Freeway'. Included are the interchanges at Little River and Avalon.

1978 - Former Princes Highway between Hoppers Crossing and Wattle Avenue works on duplication begin.

1978 - Realignment of Former Princes Highway through Werribee centre.

1978 - West Gate Freeway opens, connecting with the Princes Freeway at Brooklyn.

1979 - Railway overpass at the northern end of Latrobe Terrace.

1982 - Part One of Inner Geelong Bypass - Widening of Latrobe Tce complete.

1983 - Works in Werribee and Hoppers Crossing of Former Princes Highway complete.

1989 - Forsyth Road interchange opens.
1990 - Part Two of Inner Geelong Bypass - Widening of Settlement Road and construction of James Harrison Bridge over Barwon River.

By 1991 - Former Princes Highway in Werribee decommissioned as a state highway.

1994 - Third Melbourne-bound lane from Corio to Lara constructed.

1997 - Route number changes; M1 replaces National Route 1.

1999 - 'Geelong Road Upgrade' begins, entire stretch of freeway has works completed.

2003 - 'Geelong Road Upgrade' works completed. Freeway speed limit now 100 km/h from 110 km/h.

2004 - Princes Highway reclassified from state highway to arterial under Road Management Act 2004.

2006 - Works on Geelong Bypass begin.

2006 - Southern end of Geelong Bypass to be modified after community pressure.


M1 Princes Freeway / Highway West Sections:



History of the Princes Freeway / Highway West (M1)



Princes Freeway - West Gate Freeway to Duncans Road

- Current & Historic


Princes Freeway - Duncans Road to Avalon Road

- Current & Historic


Princes Freeway - Avalon Road to Broderick Road

- Current & Historic


Princes Highway - Broderick Road to Midland Highway

- Current & Historic

Princes Highway - Midland Highway to Anglesea Road

- Current & Historic

- Former A1 Signage


Former Alignments:

- Laverton (early route via Old Geelong Road)

- Werribee (via Werribee Main Road)

- Central Geelong (via Mercer St and Moorabool St)



West Gate Freeway / M80 Western Ring Road Interchange Interactive Map

Exit List - For Princes Freeway West


Further Reading:


A1 Princes Highway West

M1 West Gate Freeway

MR83 Princes Highway West

1. Correspondence from Vicroads staff, March 2007

Last Updated: 10/4/07
© 2007.  Main Roads Victoria Webmaster.