Fairfield Canoe Club
2019 Centenary Year

Zoli’s Straight - Snippet 32

Eastern Freeway

History Snippet - Zoli’s Straight

Zoli’s Straight ‘appeared’ in 1977 as a direct result of the construction of the Eastern Freeway.


Originally designated F-19 under the 1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan during its construction in the early 1970s, it was supposed to be linked to the then-new Tullamarine Freeway, as well as taking traffic off the Maroondah Highway. Protests from inner Melbourne suburbs' residents led to it being terminated at Hoddle Street. Its initial route designation was F83 then State Route 83 and now the M3. The current incarnation was constructed in stages from 1975 to 1997.

  • 1977 – Hoddle Street to Bulleen Road. Opened in three stages, December 1977. Hoddle Street to Chandler Highway; Chandler Highway to Burke Road; Burke Road to Bulleen Road.
  • 1982 – Bulleen Road to Doncaster Road. This 3 km section was opened 3 June 1982, by Minister for Transport, the Hon S M Crabb MP. Originally two lanes in each direction, plus emergency stopping lanes, at a cost of $A24m.
  • 1997 – Doncaster Road to Springvale Road. This 7 km extension was opened to traffic in December 1997, at a cost of $A250m.


Originally, the freeway was to terminate at the intersection of Maroondah Highway and Mount Dandenong Road in Ringwood. It was meant to connect to the Eastern Ring Road before that. Instead, the Eastern Ring Road and the last Eastern Freeway extension was merged into one project (Eastlink) and the remainder of the Eastern Freeway reservation was built into the Ringwood bypass, which opened in July 2008.

Eastern Freeway under construction
Source: Val Foreman Photography, National Archives of Australia.

The wide median was designed to accommodate a double-track railway.

The first and second stages were controversial and met much opposition due to the first being constructed through the middle of Yarra Bend Park and the second stage to Doncaster Road through parkland now named Koonung Creek Reserve. The first two stages were designed to enable the construction of the Doncaster railway line down the centre of the freeway to Bulleen Road. An extra-wide median strip, which was kept free of support pylons for over-bridges, was provided to allow for the railway. The bridges were designed by Melbourne engineer Bruce Day, with particular attention paid to the aesthetics of each bridge so that they fitted in their landscape, were related to one another, and also provided a variety and progression of design themes.

Readers of this article should visit this terrific website, http://1945.melbourne/,  that allows you to compare the map of 1945 with today. As demonstrated below you can see the big loop of the river at the top-end of the straight ‘disappear’ as the Freeway ‘appears’, not to mention the disappearance of Chipperfield’s Boathouse too.

Eastern Freeway map then and now

Two views of Chipperfield’s Floating Boathouse found in our files:

Chipperfields boathouse





Chipperfields on the river

Follow us on social media