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Motorcycle Paradise

Australias best motorcycle roads - Thunderbolts way

Updated 08/12/2007

Thunderbolts Way.

I am continuing to update my older posts on some of the best motorcycle rides in the country with some new photos and observations from my revisits on my recent Moto-Gp tour. In NSW this was the road I enjoyed very much.

I rode it in both directions and it does perhaps ride a bit better south to north, simply for the sensation of climbing up from the Manning valley so rapidly - but more on that later.

I'm based in Brisbane so perhaps the few regular readers of this Blog will always arrive on the Thunderbolts from the North and scratch their heads until past Nowendoc. It is at first a mostly straight-ish road but not a boring ride. The high country scenery for a start is superb for anyone from the Tropics in the north (be aware it's cool in these parts on a motorbike) and you will be able to cover the miles quite quickly should you wish to. The roughest parts of the road leaving Walcha are being resealed and by now you should not encounter much of the old chopped up road sections.

The road at first drops and there is a very scenic pastoral area near Nowendoc before it climbs and then presents an extended series of rises and falls and sweepers - a wonderful bit of riding.
You will come to a lookout and well worth a rest break here before you commence a long and at times very steep descent to the Manning Valley floor. This particular section of road if climbing up it on a motorcycle is exceptionally good.

At the valley floor you follow the creek and again there has been a lot of road work recently done. The old very tight fun section of road next the to the creek is now gone - however do not be sad, they have replaced it with what I can only describe as a truly wonderful set of curves in the middle of nowhere with zero cars and excellent visibility.

After this you leave the creek but are never too far away for another section of rises and falls and slightly tighter curves before the road opens up again for the run into Gloucester. A selection of eateries in Gloucester, I tried the Perenti cafe suggested by Australian Road Rider editor however on both of my visits I waited in vain to be seated while the waitresses literally turned their noses up and ignored me, but YMMV. A few doors down I found a cafe with friendly service and excellent food at reasonable prices. The bonus was a large collection of motorcycle mags for diners to read.

The roads into or out of Thunderbolts way are fantastic also. To the north you have the Oxley Highway, the Waterfall way and Nymbodia. South you can enjoy the Bucketts way east to the coast, Bulahdelah old highway, and via Dungog to Singleton or Clarence town and then beyond that Putty or Bucketty rds.



  2. A mate and myself rode Oxley hwy & thunderbolts way weekend of 10-11-07-10 oxley hwy great, thunderbolts way good in middle but either end. Walcha end full of resealed potholes mountain end before gloucester dangerous large potholes and dirt areas half way through corners had to ride slowly as was not sure what road was like.

  3. I rode Thunderbolt's North to South in November 2010. The quality of the road deteriorates markedly as you enter the Gloucester Shire Council region. In fact the speed limit drops to 80 Km/h at the same point. The road damage has been aggravated by the unusually high rainfall so, as noted above, the there are large potholes, lots of lose gravel and mostly found on downhill corners.

  4. Just rode sth to nth on Thunderbolts a few days ago and I can confirm the road surface is very poor for the majority of the road. In addition, there are two lots of road works with gravel/dirt sections that go for between 1 and 2km each. Road surface is better at Walcha end.

  5. Thanks for the update, the work will no doubt be finished before I am there again so hope to enjoy some new road then.

  6. Excellent site, great photographs. I am heading to Sydney in a few days time, for Christmas and will not lose the opportunity to once again travel Thunderbolts Way, ..... what a great driving experience !

    Was first introduced to this road by a good mate ( rally car driver )from the Hunter Valley, over ten years ago, and have travelled it on three or four occasions.

    Took a Calais V8 across it two years ago, and those long straight stretches finishing in beautifully cambered sweepers north of Nowendoc, lent for the perfect opportunity to let the 5.7 litre, have its way at 200k!

    This time it will be in a 1968 MGB Roadster, recently restored at great expense, so one might say, I ma looking forward to getting some return

  7. More recent than most posters - I rode Thunderbolts March 2013.
    Plenty of roadworks at the Gloucester end to disrupt progress but the surface was great up to the lookout. The last 30 kays into Walcha was some of the worst, patched and pitted I have ridden. Reckon the floods have taken their toll but the south and middle stretches were fantastic. Also worth doing is Gloucester to Singleton via Dungog. Wow! Loved riding those ridge lines.

  8. To the guy doing 200km/hr on this road i am a local from the area and have seen so many accidents on this road. Your an idiot this is a dangerous road and whilst i admit i do speed on my bike and in my car thise speeds are insane and stupid on this road in a car. I hope when you eventually kill yourself that you don't take any of my friends or family with you in the process. It's a long drop down from the mountain if you go over.

  9. After hearing so much about Thunderbolts I rode it for the first time yesterday south to north. After completing it I can honestly say my favourite stretch was the last 500 meters as I knew it was ending.

    This road is dangerous. Some smooth newly finished straights leading into potholed, patched and rippled corners. You can't trust it. There was one section so bad it was posted as 40km speed. No accompanying sign about roadworks just 40k.

    As you get closer to Walcha the big sleep inducing straights are peppered with sections of some of the worst patching I have seen. At one point I hit a dip in the road that almost got the bike airborne.

    I will admit the view is spectacular, if you stop to look! If you are moving you are too worried about what new surprise thus road is trying to unseat you with.

    Treat this road with a healthy respect and survive it.

  10. Avoid this road at all costs. Dangerous in a car let alone riding. 24/8/16 msw worst road by far

  11. I have never found this road to be dangerous. It has a mixed surface and varied surveying so some corners need care but that applies to many interesting B roads in Australia. If only riding the smooth sealed roads then you miss some great scenery.


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