The transport and movement of heavy vehicles, machinery and loads on public roads is a highly regulated process. There are strict legal responsibilities for all parties involved in the transport logistics supply chain, including cotton growers.

2023 Transport update

Cotton Movement Over Easter

  • Please see here an Easter Travel 2023 update from the National Heavy vehicle Regulator. Further details are provided below, but in summary:
    • “Walking” pickers over Easter in New South Wales is generally possibly across the cotton production areas. One pilot more than what normally stipulated is required. Escort requirements can be found under the Conditions – National Pilot and Escort Conditions Tab in the National Class 1 Agricultural Vehicle and Combination Mass and Dimension Exemption Notice.
    • In QLD “Walking” is limited to either Easter Thursday, Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday and Easter Tuesday (Zone A) and Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday (Zone B). See map below. An extra escort is required.
    • “Floating” of pickers and associated cotton harvest equipment in QLD is allowed except on Good Friday and Easter Monday.
    • In NSW “Floating” is generally allowed in cotton producing areas west of the Newell Highway. Restricted roads (Generally Newell Highway and East are listed on pages 10 and 11 of the New South Wales Class 1 Load Carrying Vehicle Operator's Guide (PDF, 1.18MB) . Further, the Guide was recently updated so that a class 1 heavy vehicle transporting agricultural cotton equipment may operate on the following roads during daylight hours from sunrise Easter Saturday until sunset Easter Sunday.
    • the Newell Highway from north of Coonabarabran to Goondiwindi
    • the Kamilaroi Highway from Narrabri to Gunnedah
    • the Gwydir Highway from the Newell Highway to Warialda
    • the Bruxner Highway from Boggabilla to Yetman
    • the Riverina Highway from Berrigan to Finley
    • the Murray Valley Highway from Deniliquin to the Newell Highway near Finlay
    • the Kidman Way from Hillston to the intersection of the Newell Highway near Jerilderie
    • the Mid-Western Highway from Goolgowi to West Wyalong.

Walking Pickers

The regulations around “walking” cotton pickers is largely unchanged from previous years and is managed under the National Class 1 Agricultural Vehicle and Combination Mass and Dimension Exemption Notice . This notice covers the movement of most self-propelled or combination agricultural machines. As round bale cotton pickers are outside the general mass and dimension limits, there are special provisions for pickers, which allow them to be “walked”. However, it is important to note that currently the special provisions only apply to the 7760 and 690 series machines. Growers and contractors receiving new 770 machines will have to apply for a permit through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) - .

Floating Pickers

Once a picker is loaded onto a low loader, it is subject to the same rules (with the exception of Easter movements) as any other Over Mass Over Size vehicle. Permits are required through the NHVR - .

For operators in NSW, exemption for public holiday movement are located under section 2.3 of the New South Wales Class 1 Load Carrying Vehicle Operator’s Guide.

Load Restraint

Growers and contractors transporting unginned cotton to gins need to ensure their loads are restrained in accordance with the performance standards listed in Heavy Vehicle (Mass, Dimension and Loading) National Regulation. The following is a guide to those standards - .

Cotton Australia and other industry participants have developed a range of certified load restraint guides that operators are encouraged to use - . However, if operators rely on these Guides, they need to ensure that comply exactly with every aspect of the Guides.

Chain of Responsibility

Growers and Contractors are reminded that everyone in the cotton supply chain have legal responsibilities under Chain of Responsibility legislation. Further details can be found here - .



Queensland’s main cotton producing areas are divided into two zones for Easter movements, as outlined below, with Zone A allowing movement (subject to the conditions listed in the table below, over the entire Easter Period, and Zone B allowing movement of Easter Saturday and Sunday:

Table 10 – Daytime travel only


Zone A

Zone B

Holy Thursday

Up to 5.5m wide with an additional pilot to requirements under section 3.3.6 of this Schedule.

No access

Good Friday

No access

No access

Easter Saturday

Up to 5.5m wide with an additional pilot to requirements under section 3.3.6 of this Schedule.

Up to 5.5m wide with an additional pilot to requirements under section 3.3.6 of this Schedule.

Easter Sunday

Up to 5.5m wide with an additional pilot to requirement under section 3.3.6 of this Schedule.

Up to 5.5m wide with an additional pilot to requirements under section 3.3.6 of this Schedule.

Easter Monday

No access

No access

Easter Tuesday

Up to 5.5m wide with an additional pilot to requirements under section 3 of the Guide.

No access


Travel on minor roads outside the boundary of Zone B is permitted for eligible cotton harvest vehicles on days where access is required to local cotton fields/farms in the Emerald and Theodore Irrigation Areas and the Biloela surrounds.


An eligible cotton harvester or agricultural equipment in association with cotton harvesting in Queensland is authorised to be floated during daylight hours in and along the boundaries of Zone A and Zone B (as shown above – subject to additional escort requirements).



Eligible cotton harvesters, and other agricultural vehicles and combinations can generally operate in NSW, outside of Zone 1 (Eastern Seaboard), during daylight hours, with one extra escort than what is normally required under the National Class 1 Agricultural Vehicle and Combination Mass and Dimension Exemption Notice .


There are exemptions for the ”Floating” of agricultural equipment over public holidays covered by the Multi-State Class 1 Load Carrying Vehicle Dimension Exemption Notice 2022 (No.1) and Multi-State Class 1 Load Carrying Vehicle Mass Exemption Notice 2020 (No.1 ) and explained in further details by the New South Wales Class 1 Load Carrying Vehicle Operator's Guide (PDF, 1.41MB) . Page 13 of the Guide explains that in general Oversize and Over Mass vehicles in NSW are restricted on a number of NSW roads over holiday periods such as Easter, but loads carrying agricultural equipment are exempted.

Extract from Guide

2.3 Public holiday periods (including 23 December to 3 January)
For the purposes of clause 2.3 a public holiday period means a period of three or more consecutive days covering a declared NSW state-wide public holiday and adjacent weekend days (for example Easter and every long weekend); and the period between 23 December and 3 January (inclusive). Eligible vehicles wider than 2.5 metres or longer than 22 metres are not permitted to travel in the daytime during public holiday periods on the following roads (a vehicle driving across the road is exempted; a vehicle carrying agricultural equipment used to conduct an agricultural task is also exempted)

For further information please contact Michael Murray on 0427 707868 or [email protected].

Note: the notice and information provided in the NHVR’s website is the source of truth. This above publication is for informational purposes only. Guidelines such as the ones mentioned, are only guidelines.

From February 10th 2014, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) became the national transport regulator for all vehicles over 4.5 tonne Gross Vehicle Mass. The NHVR is a ‘one-stop shop’ for all transport-related business.

However, there is still some regulatory overlap with the states, and state-based regulator websites remain an important source of information.

Cotton Australia works to maintain proactive and direct engagement with relevant road transport authorities. Our efforts aim to reduce the compliance burden on growers through the preparation of plain English best practice transport guidelines. Additionally, Cotton Australia advocates for reforms to outdated regulations that have not kept pace with technological and other advances in the Australian cotton growing industry.

Cotton Australia has successfully negotiated on behalf of the industry various exemptions (concessions) that allow certain vehicle and trailer combination types and over-dimension loads or machinery to be operated and transported on roads outside the over-arching rules.

Below is information covering the movement of cotton equipment and cotton, responsibilities under the transport Chain of Responsibility (COR), Easter Movement Restriction Exemptions, and Load Restraint Guides.

Information for growers and transport and machinery operators

The information below primarily covers those states and territories where the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator applies.

General Information for Western Australia and the Northern Territory

Western Australia

Northern Territory

Movement of agricultural machinery on public roads

Agricultural machinery is either a self-propelled item of agricultural equipment such as a tractor, header, cotton picker or sprayer, or a combination of a tractor and other agricultural implements.

From mid-2019 the movement of agricultural equipment on public roads was governed by the National Class 1 Agricultural Vehicle and Combination Mass and Dimension Exemption Notice. This notice covers the movement of agricultural vehicles and combinations in all states and territories with the exception of Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Farmers, their managers and their employees should become very familiar with:

It should be noted that while it is a National Notice, some requirements and dimensions differ from state to state, as well as specific conditions put in place by other road managers such as local governments. Operators should ensure that they check these specific conditions by either consulting the interactive map or Appendix 5.

Movement of agricultural machinery outside what is covered by the National Notice is still possible, but it does require the issuing of a specific permit. Permits can be applied through the NHVR.

Movement of over-dimensional loads on load-carrying vehicles

Once a piece of agricultural machinery or produce is loaded onto a truck or similar load-carrying vehicle, it is largely subject to the same over-dimensional rules that apply to all transport operators.

Un-ginned cotton/modules

Trailer Extensions

In both NSW and Queensland, there are provisions to allow trailer extensions when used in a road train configuration, allowing most trailers to legally carry six full-sized round modules.

Operators should note that all extensions must be certified by an Approved Vehicle Examiner.

Frame type Load Restraint Systems (Collier & Miller)

In NSW and Queensland, it is possible to move round modules with a maximum height of 4.6 metres (when using a frame-style load restraint system). The rules are slightly different in both states. In NSW, transporters can go to 4.6m “as of right” under the New South Wales and Queensland Class 3 Heavy Vehicle 4.6m High Loaded Semitrailer Dimension Exemption (Notice) 2014 (No. 1); while in Queensland, a specific permit must be applied for.

An information sheet can be found here.

Collier & Miller - Cotton Bale Load Restraint System to suit Conventional 45’ Flat Deck Semi Trailer - Full Report

Collier & Miller - Cotton Bale Load Restraint System to suit Conventional 45’ Flat Deck Semi Trailer – Summary


Operators in NSW and Queensland using chainbed loaders can avail themselves of certain dimension exemptions by utilising the following notices:

Ginned cotton

In NSW, there is a specific permit allowing the over-dimensional loading of ginned cotton bales.

Load restraint

All transport operators are legally required to restrain their loads in accordance with the Load Restraint Guide 2018 which was prepared by the National Transport Commission. In summary, the guide has performance standards that need to be met.

The NHVR has detailed information on load restraint, which can be found here.

To assist cotton industry operators, Cotton Australia and other industry participants have engaged load engineers to prepare certified load restraint guides for commonly used load configurations.

If an operator chooses to use one of these guides and relies on it as evidence that a load has been secured in accordance with the law, then the operator must ensure that every requirement set out in the guide is followed exactly.

Load Restraint Guides – Un-ginned cotton

Load Restraint Guide – Ginned cotton

Chain of Responsibility – who is responsible?

Under the Chain of Responsibility (COR) provisions within the regulations, each party involved in the loading, restraint and transport of cotton modules from farms to a cotton gin shares responsibility for transporting the modules in a safe and compliant manner. The individual responsibility is greater for those matters more directly under your control. Growers must ensure that all cotton modules are constructed in line with industry best practices, including:

  • Harvested cotton adequately compacted into rectangle or round modules so as to avoid loose modules that may be inclined to break during loading, transport or unloading at the gin site;
  • Modules not so heavy that they may create an over-weight load for trucks;
  • Modules properly covered in tarpaulins or wrapped;
  • Modules constructed and/or presented on even pads to facilitate loading, including correct alignment onto trailer decks for transport; and
  • Checking all modules are adequately restrained on trailers prior to leaving the farm (including monitoring the practices of your transport contractor).

In addition, Chain of Responsibility laws were updated in October 2018 requiring all members of the chain to have greater regard for issues around fatigue management and vehicle maintenance, in addition to load restraint.

Additional information around COR can be found:

Conditional registration

For many years, farmers have been able to avail themselves of Conditional Registration for a wide range of agricultural vehicles, allowing them to be driven legally on roads. However, the registration comes with a range of conditions that vary greatly depending on the vehicle, and in some state locations.

Cotton farmers should take the time to review the conditions that apply to their vehicles. In NSW, growers need to carry with the vehicle at all times a copy of the conditions that apply to that vehicle. The conditions will appear on the Certificate of Approved Operations (which is issued when the vehicle is Conditionally Registered for the first time). In Queensland, the conditions will be shown on the Certificate of Registration.

Easter movement of cotton picking equipment

As Easter public holidays often coincide with cotton picking, Cotton Australia has negotiated some exemptions to the normal restrictions that apply to the movement of over-dimensional equipment across the Easter public holiday period.

The relevant exemptions/details can be found here -