HSR networks reflect the urban geographies, city-building cultures, and political and decentralization frameworks of their national context (Ureña et al., 2009). In Australia, HSR is typically conceptualized as an engineering or economic project but the European experience reveals its strong governance dimension. The paper examines international and domestic critiques of HSR development, and recent proposals for HSR in Australia, to identify the prospects for a ‘regionally integrated’ HSR network in Australia. Section 1 provides an overview of HSR planning in Australia, drawing out key spatial strategies and governance approaches adopted by recent proposals. Section 2 examines the context for urban governance in Australia, identifying broad currents, disruptions and trajectories that stand to influence HSR development. Section 3 examines a body of planning-related literature that constitutes a ‘governance turn’ in HSR research to understand how HSR transforms urban spatial patterns. In conclusion, the paper poses several questions framing key governance challenges for HSR in Australia.