Thunderbolt’s Way is a picturesque road trip that runs from Gloucester in the Mid-North Coast hinterland to Inverell on the western plains of New England, covering a distance of 290 km. Named after Captain Thunderbolt, a notorious bushranger who roamed the area in the early 1800s, the drive takes you through several national parks, quaint country towns, and beautiful landscapes.
Starting from Gloucester, the road meanders through rolling farmland, clear flowing rivers, and streams, providing breathtaking scenery around every bend. As you head north towards Walcha, you will experience tight hairpin bends and open sweeping corners, and climb over 1000m in altitude to cross the Great Dividing Range. Look out for the iconic call of the native bellbird and enjoy the pristine wilderness.
After crossing the Great Dividing Range, you will reach Walcha, a small farming community known for its close proximity to the dramatic gorges and winding rivers of the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. There, you can explore waterfalls, hike, camp, bushwalk and more. In the town itself, you can enjoy an abundance of outdoor sculpture in the famed Open Air Gallery, boutique shops, quality coffee and a wonderful community spirit.
Half an hour’s drive north of Walcha, you will find Uralla, a charming historic village that seamlessly blends country charm with foodie culture. Its streets are dotted with heritage buildings, museums, artisan bakeries, microbreweries, and wholefood stores. If you’re considering moving to the countryside, Uralla is a great place to start. You can experience the relaxed lifestyle of a small rural community without sacrificing the convenience of modern amenities. Uralla is perfect for a leisurely country bike ride, as it’s within close proximity to Dangars Falls and a number of walks in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park.
Just a short detour up the road from Uralla is Armidale, the New England region’s capital, which offers a variety of dining options, stylish accommodation, and breathtaking national parks and waterfalls to explore.
The drive ends in picturesque Inverell, nestled along the banks of the Macintyre River. The town is steeped in history, and its stunning streetscape of historic buildings is filled with fabulous boutiques, art galleries, gift and homeware shops, as well as great cafes and pubs. The National Transport Museum is a must-see, and visitors can also try their hand at sapphire fossicking. Thunderbolt’s Way is best enjoyed slowly over three or four days to take in the scenery and the many attractions along the way.