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Why the longest tunnel in Australia will resemble a disco and a nature reserve in one.

Why the longest tunnel in Australia will resemble a disco and a nature reserve in one.

The much anticipated $3 billion NorthConnex was originally set to be completed late last 2019, but final tests on electrical items and fans are still being carried out. The good news is that the new tunnel is expected to open within the next couple of months.

The nine-kilometre tunnel linking the M1 Pacific Motorway at Wahroonga to the Hills M2 Motorway at West Pennant Hills aims to help ease bumper to bumper traffic, removing around 5,000 trucks off Pennant Hills Road each day.

The new underpass is also the longest and deepest road tunnel in Australia and provides an amusing spectacle for drivers travelling through it. 

As motorists enter the tunnel, they’ll be greeted by metal silhouettes of swooping flocks of cockatoos, eagles, galahs, and lorikeets. Parts of the internal walls are backlit with colourful silhouettes of trees, birds and starry night skies. 

These eye-catching visual displays are an Australian-first designed to help keep motorists focused while driving through the tunnel following local and overseas research proving that “subtle stimulants” helps to focus drivers.

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said at the NorthConnex tunnel press conference that the new tunnel was designed to help “maintain the concentration of drivers”.

“It’s based on the European experience with long tunnels and it’s designed to maintain the concentration of drivers,” Mr Constance said.

“If you think of a nine kilometre tunnel looking at the same concrete walls, it’s designed to actually alert drivers and keep their minds engaged with the driving in front of them.”

The project in Sydney’s north west will save up to 15 minutes’ travel time and allows drivers to avoid 21 sets of traffic lights along Pennant Hills Road. It also means motorists can travel from Newcastle to Melbourne without encountering a single set of traffic lights.

What are the main features of the new tunnel?

  • The NorthConnex is a twin motorway tunnel about nine kilometres in length with two lanes plus a breakdown lane in each direction.
  • Each tunnel will be built with future capability to provide three lanes in each direction.
  • The clearance is 5.1 metres, which is higher than most other tunnels in Sydney, to reduce the risk of impact from tall vehicles.
  • Drivers will have to abide by a speed limit of 80 kilometres per hour when travelling through the NorthConnex.

How much does it cost in tolls?

In each direction, a trip on NorthConnex will cost: 

  • $7.83 for cars
  • $23.50 for heavy vehicles

Trucks will be fined if they avoid the tunnel

There’s no free rate alternative. Truck drivers will have to pay a toll or pay a fine. Truck drivers will be fined $191 for attempting to avoid the NorthConnex tunnel, monitored by toll gantries above ground.

The newly built tunnel will also help improve Sydney’s air quality, reduce traffic noise and boost the state and national economies by providing more reliable journeys and shorter travel times for the movement of freight and everyday motorists.

To find out more about the new NorthConnex tunnel, visit

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