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Corporate Timeline

A century of change

Since 1926, Main Roads has played a pivotal role in keeping WA connected. Join us as we journey through almost a century of stories, world events, changing landscapes and achievements.
1920 – 1930

The Roaring Twenties

Following the end of WWI, the world returned to peace and prosperity. The invention of the wireless brought music and entertainment into the home, while the motorcar connected people and places like never before.

During this time, the number of vehicles in Western Australia grew rapidly from just 3,000 in 1921 to 31,000 by 1931.

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1930 – 1940

Hard times

The early 30s were marked by hardship, with the Great Depression causing mass unemployment. In spite of this, the number of cars continued to grow in Western Australia.

The electric tram also provided a cost-effective mode of transport for people travelling in the city. Thousands of people drove or caught the tram to watch Don Bradman at the WACA Ground for the first time in 1930. WWII is declared in 1939.

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1940 – 1950

The road to recovery

After WWII ends in 1945, the world tries to get back on its feet. This is a time of economic growth, but not of prosperity, with rationing causing people to make and repair their own goods as best they can.

During the war years, Holden diverted vehicle production into the construction of aircraft and weapons. In 1948 it unveiled its first all-Australian car, with demand quickly outstripping supply.

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1950 – 1960

The baby boom

The post war baby boom is underway, with Australia’s population surpassing 10 million.

In Perth, suburbs rapidly spread outwards from the CBD, with a growing road network required to keep people connected.

Land is acquired for future roads as the Stephenson Plan looks to accommodate a population of 1.4 million by the end of the century. Iron ore is discovered in the Pilbara, supporting Perth’s increasing infrastructure needs.

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1960 – 1970

New horizons

Perth is called ‘A City of Light’ by an orbiting US astronaut. Closer to home, Perth is entering a period of great growth and optimism, with the first skyscrapers constructed and vast expansions to the existing road network.

In 1962, the Commonwealth Games took place in Perth. Heavy traffic along the Eyre Highway between WA and SA causes extensive damage to the road.

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1970 – 1980

Social movements

The 1970s is alive with festivals and protests across the world and social movements become widespread.

Australia makes the decision to convert to the metric system, meaning all roadside signs have to be updated.

With continued expansion occurring throughout the state, the Aboriginal Heritage Act is legislated in 1972 to protect all Aboriginal heritage sites across WA.

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1980 – 1990

Moving forward

This is a time of great celebration, as Western Australian yacht, Australia 11, wins the America’s cup. Main Roads celebrates its 60th anniversary in 1986, with the first word processors also introduced in this year.

The ongoing mineral boom continued to create new opportunities, with more and more women entering the workforce.

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1990 – 2000

The information age

The success and achievements of the 1980s were followed by a period of belt tightening, with economic rationalism and downsizing of government causing ongoing challenges to business operations.

The Native Title Act is passed in 1993, recognising native title across the country. Meanwhile, the internet is established, allowing people to share information in new and powerful ways.

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2000 – 2010

A fresh start

Perth celebrates the new millennium with a number of major transport projects. The Graham Farmer Freeway opens in 2000 and the Perth to Mandurah railway becomes operational in 2007.

With a population exceeding 2 million, Perth’s outer suburbs continue to grow. This is matched by a growing movement towards cultural sensitivity, with the National Apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008.

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2010 – 2020

A changing world

A number of important changes dominated headlines, with marriage equality legalised across Australia and five different prime ministers sworn in during this decade.

Climate change remained a hot topic, with severe bushfires affecting every state and territory in 2019.

In WA, important changes are made to increase employment and development opportunities for Aboriginal businesses and Aboriginal peoples.

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