For those unused to Sydney roads, particularly visitors in Australia for a short period of time, or new arrivals, the Sydney Metroad system is an easy, convenient guide for driving into, out of, crossing, or bypassing, the city's central business district, or more specifically what some visitors may call "downtown Sydney."
There are 10 Sydney Metroads allocated with numbers 1 to 10 with nine of them already in use. Except for the new Westlink M7, each Metroad signage comprises the Metroad number enclosed in the outline of a hexagon. The new M7 sign comprises the identifier "M7" within a rectangle with rounded corners.
Knowing where Metroads end, begin and passes through (if you need to leave one Metroad and join another, or need to exit to find a local address) can simplify driving in Sydney by watching out for, and following, the clearly marked Metroad signage along the way.
North-South through the City
As an example, if you wanted to travel north to south, or south to north, through the city centre, you'd need to simply follow the M1 sign.
If traveling from, say, Waterfall in the south, M1 would take you through Princes Highway, Acacia Rd, President Ave, The Grand Parade, General Holmes Dr, Southern Cross Dr, Eastern Distributor, Cahill Expressway, Sydney Harbour Tunnel, Warringah Freeway, Gore Hill Freeway and onto the Pacific Highway at Wahroonga. You can forget all the different road names and simply follow the M1 sign.
(Note that the Eastern Distributor and Sydney Harbour Tunnel are tollways.)
North-South Bypassing the City
If you were going north, and wished to bypass the busier central Sydney district, you could take the Westlink M7 route from Prestons in southwest Sydney and follow the M7 sign all the way to Wahroonga. This is an orbital road passing through western Sydney.
- With the completion of the Westlink M7 tollway in December 2005 the M7 route now follows a wider arc starting at the M5 intersection at Prestons southwest of Liverpool, then paralleling Walgrove Rd to the Great Western Highway, before heading north and east to then connect with the M2. The Westlink M7 is a freeway grade cashless tollway bypassing 48 sets of traffic lights, and vehicles using it should have an electronic e-Tag device or an e-Pass.
- The old M7 orbital route reverts to being the Cumberland Highway with sections retaining their original names, eg, Orange Grove Rd, Smithfield Rd.
- M1 - Wahroonga in the north to Waterfall in the south through the Sydney Harbour Tunnel (or through Sydney Harbour Bridge)
- M2 - Milsons Point at the northern end of Sydney Harbour Bridge, running generally west and northwest through Castle Hill to Windsor
- M3 - Blakehurst to Mona Vale through Homebush Bay (Olympic Park), Ryde and Pymble
- M4 - Sydney to Lapstone running west
- M5 - Sydney Airport to Campbelltown through Bankstown and Liverpool running west and southwest
- M6 - Heathcote to Carlingford running roughly north
- M7 - Previously Casula to Wahroonga through Liverpool and Castle Hill; as Westlink M7, from the M5 intersection at Prestons to the M2 intersection at Baulkham Hills
- M8 - Unallocated
- M9 - Campbelltown to Windsor through Narellan and Penrith
- M10 - Artarmon north of Sydney to Mona Vale through Manly
The M2, M5 and Westlink M7 are tollways. Sections of M1 (Eastern Distributor, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Harbour Tunnel) are tollways.