Landscape Architecture - Honours

Perspectives in Motion

A phenomenological exploration of the Pacific Highway landscape. The Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade of the Pacific Highway was completed last year (2020). This project focuses on the approximately 100km section of the highway between Arrawarra and Mororo. The nature of human experience in this project was investigated by using film as a generative and representational tool.

Highway experience – a poem

I had been driving for almost 3 hours. The phone had run through all the songs on the playlist, so I shut the radio off thinking silence would help me concentrate on what lay before me.

Home. I was going home. Where I could rest, where my head could lay against a soft pillow, where someone else could worry about the world for me. Where I could shut my eyes. I just want to shut my eyes.
Lines. Speed. Lines. Cars. Lines

My Attention whips back to the lines that lay before me, the lines that run continuously into the horizon, to that vanishing point nestled between a land I do not recognise and the endless sky.

My eyes are locked between those lines, the space where I have to keep the car. The world blurring at the edges of my vision as I watch those lines. I watch those lines until I can no longer see them, can no longer actively register them, until I forget if I ever saw them, until I forget to pay attention.

The car hums as its propelled through the air. Mechanical humming combined with the whirring of the wind just beyond the glass is all that fills my ears. Crowding my ears, the humming overpowers that sense.

Sunlight hits glass and I feel the warmth of it. The dark mass of the road absorbs the heat too so that all around me, glass and road wrap me in warmth. Cradled in the heat of the day. Blanketed.

Lines. Humming. Warmth and…BLACK.

Diagram showing the relationship between human experience of the highway and film as a representational tool.


The highway upgrade consisted of substantial route re-alignment and continuous divided dual carriageway. The route realignment of the pacific highway significantly changed highway user engagement with the local social, cultural and economic systems. Furthermore, the lack of variation in the design of the upgraded section has resulted in an uninterrupted and standardised user experience. Both these elements in the upgraded highway have led to the creation of a placeless landscape. As the concept of placelessness relates directly to human experience of space it was vital that this project explored human interactions with the character of the Pacific Highway. This phenomenological exploration of the highway character has been curated in the exhibited film in order to tell the authentic story of the Pacific Highway.
Sketch showing the potential of the highway landscape.

Potential of the Highway

The sketch opposite indicates the potential of the upgraded highway landscape. Through the production of the film, it was identified that users of the upgraded highway felt that the landscape didn’t offer the same opportunities for journey and place that the old Pacific Highway route did. It was a common theme in conversations with participants that the opportunities to rest along the upgraded highway had limited variation or appeal besides meeting the most basic of needs. The sketch proposes that the model for highway service stations be rethought in order to realign the focus of the highway experience away from a multinational and standardised one toward a localised and diverse experience of the Pacific Highway.

Isabella Faulkner

Growing up on the Mid-North Coast of NSW, surrounded by diverse landscapes and a close connection to community, Isabella found her way to Landscape Architecture through her passion for history, plants and geography. This grounding led Isabella to focus her designs on the nexus between human and environmental landscape values.