A Brief History of Bituminous Surfacing in Western Australia

Reg Leach


The history and types of bituminous surfacing used on roads in Western Australia (WA) reflects the development of the state from its small beginnings as a British colony to a major exporter of mineral and agricultural products in less than 200 years. Initially roads were little more than bush tracks but as the population and demand grew so the road network expanded and improved (NAASRA 1987, Bush Track to Highway 200 Years of Australian Roads). The provision of all-weather roads became a priority and bituminous surfacings provided the means to achieving this.

The types of bituminous surfacings used were related to the volume and types of vehicles using the roads and limitations in choices dictated by costs and availability of materials, equipment and skills. This paper provides a brief outline of types of surfacings used as the sealed road network in WA expanded to meet the demands of a rapidly developing state.