This is not an official declared name, but The Kings Highway was assigned as National Route 52 in 1974, with an informal agreement with Shire Councils to sign the entire route as Kings Highway.
The road through the Clyde Mountain was first surveyed by Thomas Mitchell (1792-1855) in the last year of his life. He had previously explored and surveyed much of south eastern Australia.
In 1895 a punt service was introduced across the Clyde River at Nellingen at the foot of the Clyde Mountain; and it wasn't until 1964 that a major bridge was built there.
A small rock cave at "Pooh Bear's Corner" can be found near the top of the Clyde Mountain pass. This was the location of a munitions store during World War II that could be detonated to stop passage from the coast to the national capital inland, in case of invasion by the Japanese. People still leave dozens of soft toys there.
Between 1992 and 2006 Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson and his family lived in Moruya, only twenty minutes south of Batemans Bay, where they operated the Respite facility 'Basil Sellers House' where Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) athletes and coaches visited.
Since AIS athletes frequently travelled to Moruya and back to Canberra and M V Tronson also often travelled to the AIS in Canberra and back to his home in Moruya, a safe trip up and down the Kings Highway was of primary concern for the Respite ministry.
There were two major concerns: the first was the winding Clyde Mountain road which included quite a number of hair-pin bends; and the second was the fact that drivers tended to try to make up the time lost on the Clyde Mountain by speeding excessively when they got to the relatively straight sections on the inland plain.
This route, the thoroughfare from Canberra to the beach, is busy on weekends, especially during summer. The highway also experiences a high number of car accidents, on occasions averaging around one every three days.
What is of major concern to Well-Being Australia are the National Roads and Motoring Association (NRMA) of NSW revelations that crash rates on the Kings Highway are 85% higher than the NSW average and road fatalities are 8% higher. What is particularly alarming is that the number of people hospitalised after crashes on the Kings Highway is well over the national average.
That is a significant statistic. Crashes on the Kings Highway have cost $42.65 million over the past three years – that's equivalent to nearly $39,000 every day.
Over Clyde mountain only 5% of the road is deemed "safe" for overtaking opportunities. There are several 'black spots' and 'black lines' identified (places where the likelihood of accidents is high), with the 40km section of road over the Great Dividing Range – which includes Clyde Mountain – recording the highest number of crashes along the whole route.
When M V Tronson was in Moruya and a member of its Chamber of Commerce, it was revealed that in the 1980s, the Federal Government commissioned a survey for a new freeway over the coastal mountain range from Moruya direct to Canberra, in effect by-passing the Clyde Mountain. This would have reduced the travelling time from a little over two hours to one hour.
However, it would have cut out Batemans Bay, which is the central business hub for the Eurobodalla Shire. Local political sensitivity would not permit such a bold and forward thinking decision. Instead, the worst highway in Australia was maintained with all its accidents, hospitalisations and deaths.
Little wonder that the Well-Being Australia is disappointed that this option was never taken up. The lives of so many holiday makers to the south coast, business travellers and even those elite athletes who travel this Kings Highway travel at a greater risk.
Mark Tronson who now resides in Tweed Heads, now only occasionally travels the Kings Highway, therefore this cannot be seen as a political barrow for Moruya, rather genuine concern.