1. Design Principles

The objective is to heighten the traveller's first perception of approach and arrival in order to enhance recognition of the special symbolic and functional significance of the National Capital. These detailed conditions are concerned with achieving awareness of this special significance through the following:

  • marking the boundary of the ACT;
  • establishing a clear and identifiable route from the border to the Central National Area, the symbolic centre of the city, by providing visual cues and strong structural links;
  • building up expectations by progressively formalising the design character as travellers approach the Central National Area;
  • enhancing views to recognisable and popular images of the National Capital so as to further build expectation and define the approach; and
  • ensuring that the structure, detailing and signage is consistent along each approach route into the National Capital.

2. Policies

2.1 Future Roads

In the area marked by shading on Figure 1, the position and design of major road alignments and intersections with the Federal Highway ( 'the highway' ), other than that shown in this Amendment, are subject to further investigation and possible future amendment to the National Capital Plan.

The future high speed slip lane from the Federal Highway to Majura Road, shown on Figure 1, is subject to separate design investigation and environmental assessment. However, the duplication project shall take into account the possibility of such a slip lane and the best location for its junction with the highway.

2.2 Border Identification and Marker

The policy is:

  • to ensure the identification of the ACT by the placement of a marker at a safe and appropriate location, possibly in conjunction with a visitor lay-by. The marker should be similar in form and design to the existing marker but should also include heraldic features which signify the symbolic and functional role of the city and which establishes a relationship to signs and institutions in the Parliamentary Zone. There should be clear lateral views to the border marker; and
  • to introduce speciality lighting to highlight the ACT marker. If practical, up-lighting of the border marker and adjacent tree canopy should be used.

2.3 Road Design Characteristics

Access Limitations

For the section from Stirling Avenue to Antill Street, direct access to individual leases will be permitted only on the southern side at one point serving Blocks 1 and 8, Section 61 Watson and one point serving Block 1, Section 64 Watson. From Antill Street to the intersection with the realigned Majura Road, access will not be permitted on the southern side of the highway except to Apex Park. From the intersection with the realigned Majura Road to the ACT border, no access will be permitted except to a visitor lay-by.

On the northern side of the Federal Highway, access will only be permitted in the short term to 'Arnold Grove', 'Bendora Riding School', the AGL lease, and 'Canberra Park' while longer term access is expected to be provided from within Gungahlin.

Intersection Design

The continuity of the north/south carriageway driver experience should be reinforced. The Majura Road/Horse Park Drive grade separated intersection should reinforce the visual dominance of the Federal Highway, to maximise views and ensure the least disruption to the landform.

Medians and Verges

Medians and verges are to provide the opportunity for reinforcement of landscape themes and realms. Medians should be of a sufficient width to accommodate the appropriate landscape treatments for each landscape realm and pattern and generally be not less than 20 metres wide.


Roadworks are to minimise the impact on the existing topography. Cuts and fills associated with the design and construction of the highway and associated roadworks are to be kept to a minimum. The highway is to be designed to 'fit' within the landscape and topography.

Where possible, the two carriageways are to be designed independently and separated both vertically and horizontally so as to ensure integration into the topography.

Road surfaces should be of asphaltic concrete with a clean edge, unless other materials are shown to be more appropriate.


Where provided, lighting should reinforce the design intent of the Federal Highway as a 'rural' highway road. Further, the colour temperature of the lights should be such that the true colours and features of the landscape are perceived. Light spillage is to be minimised to prevent unnecessary night sky illumination.

Equestrian Trails

The policy is:

  • to ensure the design of the highway incorporates appropriately located and connected underpasses for equestrian use and facilitates the continuation of existing equestrian trails; and
  • to enhance where possible, the trail concept with provisions for additional facilities at appropriate locations.
Federal Highway Road Design Characteristics

Federal Highway Road Design Characteristics

2.4 Visitor Information


The policy is:

  • to ensure informative, well presented, factually correct and relevant visitor information is displayed on signs and boards and plays a key role in informing the visitor; and
  • to ensure information signage conforms to a uniform standard for Approach Routes. All signs which are not essential to be read from the road, such as interest group signs, are to be located in a visitor lay-by.

Information appropriate for inclusion in visitor lay-by signage includes:

  • natural landscape - environment information regarding the distinctive natural landscape and features;
  • cultural/historical landscape - information regarding Aboriginal history and influences and early European settlement and impact;
  • siting of Canberra - diagrammatic development of Canberra, basic structure of Canberra's layout including important features and elements, monuments and institutions; and
  • community organisations and relevant local information.

Visitor directional signage, other than in the visitor lay-by, will be permitted where shown on Figure 1 to assist identification of destinations between Antill Street and Stirling Avenue, Watson.

No other visitor information signs will be permitted along the highway.

Visitor Lay-by

The policy is to ensure access to a visitor lay-by at a convenient location for visitors.

2.5 Landscape Experience


The policy is:

  • to ensure Canberra's unique setting within the natural landscape is reflected in the sensitive design and landscape treatment for the highway which reinforces the perception of the National Capital; and
  • to recognise the significance of views to the surrounding hills and ensure engineering structures respect the landform and landscape patterns.

Major Landscape Realms

The Federal Highway is divided into two broad realms for the purposes of detailing landscape patterns. They are a Rural Realm and an Open Parkland Realm (see Figure 2 Landscape Realms and Patterns for the Federal Highway).

Rural Realm: identifies the location of Canberra and establishes the setting of the 'bush capital'. The pastoral setting is a cultural and historical reminder and recognises that the colour and scale of the landscape are important in creating an identifiable and memorable image. Views to the Gungahlin ranges and Black Mountain should be maintained and enhanced.

Open Parkland Realm: emphasises reflection of the rural landscape, (but with a designed park-like landscape quality), and introduces the visitor to the planned 'garden city' image. Planting and development patterns are to allow filtered horizontal views.

Federal Highway Landscape Realm and Patterns

Federal Highway Landscape Realm and Patterns

Landscape Patterns

Driver experience shall be modulated through a series of distinct landscape patterns which identifies a change in landscape character from an informal planting, open, rolling, rural landscape to a regular planted, closed, dense canopy pattern of the semi-urban landscape. Landscape patterns apply as set out in Figure 2 - Landscape Realms and Patterns for the Federal Highway.

To assist the understanding of the landscape patterns and where they apply, the highway has been broken into sections starting at the ACT border.

Plantation Gateway (0.0-0.4 km): creates an introduction and announces the imminent arrival of the visitor in Canberra by establishing appropriately designed tree planting that relates to the rural landscape, but is distinct in character. Within the road reserve, the policy is to develop a formal plantation in the verge and median of the highway.

Savannah Woodland (0.4-0.8 km): reinforces the existing woodland character by maintaining and enhancing the indigenous eucalypts in small groups and individual specimens in the median and verges, and ensures the character is of an open canopy giving a parkland appearance.

Tussock Grassland (0.8-1.4 km): establishes a grassland community and complements the savannah woodland character of adjacent sections of the highway. It does this through broad scale planting of road verges with native grasses and herbaceous plants with low grasses in medians.

Savannah Woodland (1.4-2.8 km): reinforces the rural pastoral character by planting and protecting indigenous eucalypts in small groups and individual specimens in the median and verges, generally widely spaced, leaving an open canopy and giving a parkland appearance. Residential views are to be screened and views opened up along open space corridors.

Open Forest/Woodland (2.8-4.0 km): reinforces the open forest character of this part of the highway. The policy is to resolve secondary access to rural properties while maintaining continuity of the approach route, and to allow short, filtered horizontal views. Median planting is to be informal and should reinforce existing native planting as well as introducing grouped accent planting.

Filtered Semi-Urban (4.0-5.4 km): creates a transition from woodland to the contrasting closed corridor section of Northbourne Avenue and develops a 'secondary' gateway with designed avenue planting to create a strong contrast with the rural landscape as the introduction to urban Canberra. Direct views should focus along the approach route. The built form should be screened through the use of plant material.

Cultural Landscape Features

The policy is to maintain the significance of the Remembrance Parks through enhancement of their location and access in association with a visitor lay-by, by providing interpretative material, and by the possible extension of areas for planting.