Katoomba to Hunter Valley - best road????
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  1. #1
    1000+ Posts Fordman's Avatar
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    Default Katoomba to Hunter Valley - best road????

    OK you Sydneysiders, I need a bit of help.

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    Next week we are spending a few days at Katoomba then heading to Newcastle & Swansea via the Hunter Valley. Can you tell me which would be the best scenic route to go?
    I am looking at the road via Kurrajong Heights back to Windsor, then either via Putty to Singleton (Route 69) or via Wiseman's Ferry to Wollombi and Cessnock.
    I am looking for a scenic drive more than a test of the hire-cars ability to handle winding roads - but I don't mind the winding road if its the scenic route (if you know what I mean!).

    Thanks
    Fordman.

    P.S. Also, we've then got about 5 days to get to Brisbane with the intention of seeing the coastal areas, not the Pacific Highway! Any extra hints of the nice places to see would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Gone Fishin' Ray Bell's Avatar
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    No problems at all...

    Through Mt Victoria, turn right to Bell, then back across the mountains to Kurrajong.

    At that point you come to a right turn into Kurrajong itself... then immediately on your left is Comleroy Road... follow that to Blaxland's Ridge Road, that comes out on the Putty Road north of Wilberforce.

    Two choices here... Putty Road to Singleton, back into the Hunter, easy stuff. Or, turn left onto the Putty Road, then not far along turn right and follow a very interesting road to the back of Wiseman's Ferry. You should get an NRMA map to ensure you know how to find your way, but it is straightforward enough, I've never got lost anyway.

    From Wiseman's Ferry you have the main road to Mangrove Mountain, from which I'd recommend you head north and go to the Wyong Creek Road, which gets you onto the freeway in time to grab a snack at the dual Caltex servos after that run without any refreshments.

    Now from the Hunter you need to get to Gloucester. Wherever you are in the Hunter Valley, you'll find a number of ways to get there, but once there you turn towards Barrington, then follow Thunderbolt's Way to Walcha. Great road, the best way from Sydney to Brisbane.

    This brings you out at Uralla. That's hardly coastal, but you won't regret the run, especially if you camp in one of the riverside campsites (free) just out of Barrington.

    From Uralla you head into Armidale, don't go the bypass. Find your way to the road to Dorrigo and Grafton, it's called Waterfall Way and for good reason. Explore some of the falls on the way to Dorrigo, then down into the loveliest valley in all of Australia, the Bellinger. Try and spend some time here, explore a little, go up to Darkwood and so on.

    Getting around Coffs Harbour is difficult, in fact the only thing to do is head for through the back way to Grafton. But first, I do recommend a look around Mylestom (would you believe named after Dr Tom Myles?) and then hook left at the commencement of the shopping centre in Coffs to the Coramba-Glenreagh-Grafton road.

    This is quiet, easy running except for the hill out of Coffs, and quick if you want it to be.

    I've never done much exploring around the coast near Grafton, so there are places like Yamba, Brooms Head and so on that I can't say anything about, same goes for Evans Head. But they are there and a lot of people seem to head to them.

    Don't go into Ballina. At Wardell turn left, then take the right turn that heads to Meerschaum Vale and Alstonville. Put yourself into the hills and off the worst bit of the Pacific, pick a path on your map (any path, really, it's all nice there) and get onto the Kyogle road. North of Kyogle you turn right and go up the Lyons Road (made accessible by the Lyons Clubs) and go through to Beaudesert and on to Brisbane. Stop off at the Border Loop lookout, which looks over where the railway line does a loop over itself to climb the mountain.

    I know you missed a lot of coast, but the worst bits were among them.

  3. #3
    1000+ Posts PeterT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Bell
    From Wiseman's Ferry you have the main road to Mangrove Mountain, from which I'd recommend you head north and go to the Wyong Creek Road, which gets you onto the freeway in time to grab a snack at the dual Caltex servos after that run without any refreshments.
    I prefer the dirt road through St. Albans. A lot more scenic, with plenty of corners. Generally a very good surface too.

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  4. #4
    1000+ Posts Fordman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Bell
    No problems at all...

    Through Mt Victoria, turn right to Bell, then back across the mountains to Kurrajong......................................... ............ I know you missed a lot of coast, but the worst bits were among them.
    Thanks Ray, exactly the sort of stuff I'm looking for. Should be a good trip.

    BTW, I've got a road atlas of Aust with a cover picture of an avenue of large poplars on a highway - it just says New England, NSW - can anyone give a more specific location?? Should be nice this time of year - we go a bit ga-ga about autumn colours because there is virtually none of it in WA.
    Fordman.

  5. #5
    Gone Fishin' Ray Bell's Avatar
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    Can't put my hand on that one right now to check, but I suspect that this particular scene is north of Armidale, between Guyra and Glen Innes, possibly around Stonehenge.

    If you want to find it I suggest you leave it for another trip... it could also be south of Uralla or even between Uralla and Armidale. There are lots of poplars around that neck of the woods. Like Bega.

    For good displays of autumn colours, however, you should be going to Canberra this time of year...

  6. #6
    1000+ Posts Gamma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fordman
    Thanks Ray, exactly the sort of stuff I'm looking for. Should be a good trip.

    BTW, I've got a road atlas of Aust with a cover picture of an avenue of large poplars on a highway - it just says New England, NSW - can anyone give a more specific location?? Should be nice this time of year - we go a bit ga-ga about autumn colours because there is virtually none of it in WA.
    Fordman.
    I have spent many years in Armidale and one row of poplars pretty much looks like another. The row I think you may have in your travel book is the one at Kelleys Plains, Dumaresq or the homestead at Gostwick.

    Rays route sounds like an excellent one especially the Thunderbolts Way, (used and recommended). You could try the Highway down the hill from Walcha before you get to Uralla instead and come out at Wauchope.

    I do recommend Armidale in the autum.
    Pubs to visit:
    Railway.
    New Englander.
    St Kilda.
    Club.
    Tatts.
    Wicklow.
    and the one I can never remember the name of.
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  7. #7
    Gone Fishin' Ray Bell's Avatar
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    Because it's always been last on the list?

    The scene of which he speaks is open highway, looks a bit like the Thunderbolt's Rock area, but I don't think that's it... a scan might help?

  8. #8
    1000+ Posts Gamma's Avatar
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    The Royal. Remembered now, can be calm, back to work.

    A photograph of me on Thunderbolts rock was used by the NRMA for one of their maps of the NE a number of years ago. Dark an brooding Capt Thunderbolt type.
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  9. #9
    Gone Fishin' Ray Bell's Avatar
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    I'd be brooding too, if I was facing a drive down that Walcha to Wauchope road!

    Not one speed advisory sign over 35kmh, is there? Though there is one good lookout along the way...

  10. #10
    1000+ Posts Gamma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Bell
    I'd be brooding too, if I was facing a drive down that Walcha to Wauchope road!

    Not one speed advisory sign over 35kmh, is there? Though there is one good lookout along the way...
    Know your road. Advice can be ignored.

    If you refuel at the Servo across the road from the Police station wait for the only local plod to be at home, (parks the wagon out front) and the road is yours-all yours. (Within reason, taking into account the prevailing conditions and safety concerns, the onus is on the driver to consider the law which applies to the jurisdiction in which they are passing etc etc etc.)
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  11. #11
    1000+ Posts Fordman's Avatar
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    Default Where is this NSW scene???

    Thanks very much for the info, guys. I have completely changed my previous plans (because they were only guesswork), except the Bellinger Valley road from Armidale to Coffs Harbour - I had seen that on a TV show of the "best drives in Aust" and that was on my itinerary - but the roads you have described sound just what we are looking for - we are not in a hurry to get anywhere.

    I have attached the pic of the poplars on the Road Atlas, it would be interesting if any one can place it, but we are happy with the knowledge that the Armidale area is good autumn country (thanks, Gamma).

    And Ray, yes, we have been to Canberra in autumn, and Bright in Victoria, and we like what we have seen. This will be another experience.

    Peter T - I can see the rd thru St Albans looks good - I will check with the hire-car mob re dirt roads - can be an insurance issue.

    Thanks again, Fordman.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Katoomba to Hunter Valley - best road????-poplars-new-england.jpg  

  12. #12
    1000+ Posts Gamma's Avatar
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    Could be an old Photo.
    I would have to confess that I can not be sure as to where it is.
    My guess is Commissioners Waters or Uralla and not on the New England Hway.
    Is it acknowledged on the dust cover?
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  13. #13
    Gone Fishin' Ray Bell's Avatar
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    I think you might be right... maybe on one of the east-west highways in the area? It must be a highway, however, as the lines are too good for any other road.

    Bright, eh? Never been there... but it featured in a story I once wrote. I'd post it, but it's on a hard drive that's not functioning at the moment.

  14. #14
    1000+ Posts Fordman's Avatar
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    Default The Conclusion

    I know you are just waiting with baited breath for this - but for the guys that gave me a few clues, this was the trip:

    Firstly, absolutely no unsealed roads were allowed in Europcar rental. So that eliminated the Lions Road into Qld - I'll do that another time.

    Went from Katoomba via Mt Victoria, Bells Line of Road (Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens), Kurrajong, East Kurrajong, Sackville North (nice small ferry crossing here, had to fold in the mirrors on the car to fit between two caravans on the ferry), to Wisemans Ferry. Ray, I think this is basically the road you were suggesting.
    Then via Central Mangrove, to Newcastle Freeway, to Swansea.
    A day's loop around the Hunter Valley and to Nelson Bay.
    Then as suggested to Gloucester and Thunderbolts Way to Walcha. Very nice drive, I'm glad I had a rental with a bit of power (BA - what else!) those hills are pretty steep - a recommended route, that's for sure.
    Through to Uralla and Armidale.
    Waterfall Way to Dorrigo and Coffs Harbour. Again, this road lived up to its reputation. I may go back to Coffs one day and do a few inland drives from there.
    Running out of time, so straight up the Pacific Hwy - was impressed by the rivers area around Grafton - to Byron Bay. Then Surfers and on to Brisbane.
    Katoomba to Brisbane - 7 days - just scratching the surface really.
    Flew to Townsville and spent a few quiet days on Magnetic Island. Flew back to Perth.

    Thanks again for the suggestions - we had a really good trip - it's hard to beat the Aussie countryside.

    Cheers
    Fordman.

    OK, now chuck this thread into the Toad Pond!!
    Last edited by Fordman; 17th May 2005 at 02:42 AM.

  15. #15
    Gone Fishin' Ray Bell's Avatar
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    Glad you enjoyed it...

    But the Lions Road has no gravel.

    Sackville North wasn't the ferry I meant, but that's okay.

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