Merriwa to Willow Tree Road (MR358)

  • Project typeRoad Project
  • Contractor nameDaracon Contractors Pty Ltd

February 2024 Update

  • The MR358 Merriwa to Willow Tree Road rehabilitation project is currently in a vital preliminary phase, focusing on laying the groundwork for future construction. This stage involves the creation of detailed project management plans, emphasising safety, quality, and environmental protections, to guide the project through to completion. Concurrently, efforts are underway to procure critical materials, such as stormwater components, concrete, and quarry products, essential for the project's success. These preparatory steps are crucial in ensuring the rehabilitation work not only meets but exceeds community and regulatory standards, reflecting our commitment to restoring this key access route efficiently and effectively.

December 2023 Update

  • Upper Hunter Shire Council has successfully secured funding for the MR358 Merriwa to Willow Tree Road project and awarded the construction contract to Daracon Group. The project, expected to span 19 months, aims to significantly enhance regional connectivity and economic development. This initiative has garnered support from both Federal and State government representatives, reflecting a strong collaboration across various levels of government.
  • At the December 2023 Ordinary Council meeting, Council endorsed a project governance model(PDF, 459KB) , ensuring transparency and public trust. This model involves partnering with Transport for NSW, an independent body, for project management services. A Senior Project Engineer from the Public Works Advisory will lead the project, guaranteeing expert oversight and successful completion, further reinforcing the robust and dynamic nature of this partnership.


As part of our commitment to you to provide regular updates in regards to the progress of MR358 - The Merriwa to Willow Tree road (also known as Coulson’s Creek Road) please find the following information.

Upper Hunter Shire Council undertook the construction of the Merriwa to Willow Tree Road (Coulson’s Creek Rd, also known as MR358) in December 2019.

Cracking of the pavement and downslope fill embankment appeared after completion of major earthworks in October and November 2019. Further cracking developed in February 2020.

Council engaged geotechnical engineers and after an initial site inspection on 3 March 2020, the geotechnical advice on the condition of road and associated infrastructure was to impose a 5 tonne load limit and single lane configuration. Further geotechnical investigations, fieldwork and daily, weekly and monthly monitoring has continued since then.

A Project Control Group (PCG) was formed in September 2020 with representatives from Upper Hunter Shire Council, Transport for New South Wales, Infrastructure New South Wales and Public Works Advisory. The PCG has been charged with managing the road and the related design and construction phases of the project.

In January 2021, the PCG recommended following the latest geotechnical inspections, that the road be closed to all traffic with the key criteria of cracking extending to and beyond the road centre line.

Project Control Group PCG

A PCG was formed in September 2020, which meets regularly to receive updates and provide advice and directions. The PCG selected the preferred option and have undertaken reviews at key stages throughout the design process. On completion of the detailed design a business case and project proposal was endorsed by the PCG and forwarded to both the State and Federal Governments to further the case of funding.

Early Tenderer Involvement (ETI)

As part of the design process an ETI group was formed from preregistered contactors for the construction tender. This had two main benefits, firstly allowing the interested contactors to be involved in the design process, giving them a more detailed understanding of the whole project. Secondly, reducing the tender period as the preregistered contractors are the only organisations that can tender for the project. They have also reviewed each stage of the designs and provided comments on constructability, design aspects and innovative design ideas.

Upper Hunter Shire Council

Council undertook remedial earthworks at highest risk area. These works involved the excavation of the placed materials and benching to;

·       reduce the volumes and weight of the fill material,

·       restrict the infiltration of water into any remaining placed fill,

·       provide geotechnical information for structural design components and

·       lessen the environmental impacts of the placed fill continuing to move downslope.

Construction Tender

A mandatory pre-tender meeting was held on 31 January 2023 to allow the preregistered contractors the opportunity to view the site and ensure they were fully aware of the current conditions.

The construction tender was awarded to Daracon Contractors PTY LTD. 

Ongoing Issues

Illegal access to the site continues to present as a concern. If this persists during the construction phase it will lead to a longer and more costly project.