It’s always good when you find someone who shares the same interests as you, especially when those interests are a touch esoteric. All those eclipse-chasers I met in Cairns, for instance. They’ve now gone back to their daily grind, but for a brief moment we were united by our shared passion for the ultimate occultation, the obscurity of the sun by the moon! Similarly, I’m discovering more and more people who share my enjoyment of patterns in dates. You may recall I dedicated a whole column (bmag, 21 February) to the subject. Imagine my joy when someone tweeted me at 8.09am on 10/11/12 just to make sure I had noticed the sequence!
Another slightly geeky fascination of mine,
as yet unexplored here in the pages of bmag
but rekindled this week by reader Andrew
Birch, is the alphanumeric naming of our
motorways. Andrew wondered if I had noticed
the recent addition of an M4 (I hadn’t). He
was also keen to point out the curious case
of the missing motorway, the M6 (I’ll explain
My interest in alphanumeric motorway
names comes from growing up in the UK. A
trip to Manchester would begin on the A6,
before we joined the M6 at Preston and then
the M61 and M60. It’s a different language but
it’s just how everyone speaks.
Here, it’s never really taken off. The M1
to the Gold Coast was our first, yet despite us
also having an M2, M3, M4, M5 and M7, noone
seems to use those names.
If I’m telling someone how to drive from
Ipswich to Mt Coot-tha, I’ll say come up the
M2 onto the M7 then the M5. Often I’ll have to
start again: “Come up the Ipswich Motorway,
go past the Logan Motorway exit and onto the
Of course, with the advent of in-car GPS
devices, does anyone really need to know
the names of roads? Probably not. Just as
the internet has rendered unnecessary any
knowledge that you once kept in your head.
Call me old-fashioned, but I like to think there
are things I know without having to consult a
piece of technology.
And so, for the record, here’s how the
motorway numbering works.
numbered roads run (roughly) north-south
and the even numbered roads are west-east.
The M1 goes from the Gold Coast to the
Sunshine Coast via the Sir Leo Hielscher
The M3 (A3 in parts) is the Pacific
Motorway from Eight Mile Plains to the CBD,
along the Riverside Expressway, up the Inner
City Bypass to Lutwyche and Gympie Roads,
meeting the M1 at Bald Hills.
The M2 is an odd beast. Travelling from
Ipswich, M2 refers to the Ipswich Motorway
as far as Gailes. Then the Logan Motorway
takes on the name M2, but not for the entire
length of the Logan Motorway. Turn onto the
Gateway Motorway at Drewvale and you’re
still on the M2 (until you meet the M1 at Eight
The M7 is the Ipswich Motorway from
Gailes to the Clem7 Tunnel and on to the new
AirportLink toll road. And the M5 runs from
Springfield to Toowong and will continue into
the Legacy Way tunnel once completed.
So what about the missing M6? The section
of Logan Motorway from Drewvale to the M1
at Loganholme still carries the old designation
“Metroad 6” (a six in a hexagon) and has yet to
Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson tells
me the introduction of new signage has been
gradual: “On top of the cost of replacing signs
on the primary route, there is also the cost of
signage of the tributary routes.”
But there’s a twist when it comes to the M6.
Mr Emerson says: “As you know it was sold off
by the previous government so signage is now
a matter for Queensland Motorways.”
This just leaves the brand new M4 which,
as Andrew Birch recently discovered and
was excited to share with me, is the Port of
Brisbane Motorway from the M1 near the
Gateway Bridges to the Port of Brisbane.
How could you not be fascinated by all of
Now here’s some homework for you!
Next time you drive south along Oxley Road,
see if you can work out what’s wrong with
the signage as you approach the Ipswich