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Sydney-Newcastle Expressway (1968)


A public relations film made for the New South Wales Department of Main Roads (DMR) by Kingcroft Productions which documents the first three-and-a-half years of construction on the Sydney-Newcastle Expressway. It shows the planning, design, construction and completion of the first three sections of the expressway between Hawkesbury River, Mount White and Calga through rugged terrain.

Footage includes the inspection and clearing of land; drilling, blasting, ripping and cutting into rock for excavation and fill; the relocation of existing sections of highway prior to the commencement of earthworks; the construction of bridges, overpasses and interchanges; the compacting of materials for the road surface; the installation of lights and guardrails; the production of street signage at the DMR central workshop at Granville; landscaping of adjoining land; the laying of communication cables for emergency telephones; the opening ceremony of the first section in 1965; and the fourth stage of construction getting underway.

Curator’s notes

Sydney-Newcastle Expressway uses maps, diagrams, models and aerial footage to document the highway-building process as it unfolds from planning to construction. At 51 minutes, the film is demanding viewing, even for a road enthusiast. But Kingcroft Productions have condensed footage from three-and-a-half years’ worth of construction into less than an hour, offering a comprehensive summary of each stage of construction. The film starts with footage of the 1965 opening ceremony of the first section of the expressway, but then unfolds chronologically.

The excellent camerawork – which covers every possible angle of the project, including from the air – is a result of Kingcroft’s well-refined production style, and the script is clear and always mindful of the need to be accessible to a general audience. As well as highlighting the work of the DMR in servicing the travelling public, the film would have also provided an opportunity for the department to showcase its work to the public and detail the large scale of the undertaking.

Sydney-Newcastle Expressway is one of several documentary films made by Kingcroft Productions for the NSW DMR between 1932 and 1989 that document achievements in bridge and road design, construction and maintenance (see also The New Gladesville Bridge, 1967, and The Western Distributor, 1973). Kingcroft Productions specialised in corporate documentaries and sponsored films and also worked on documentaries for the Australian Inland Mission and the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electricity Authority.