A road trip is the best way to experience the wonder of New England’s High Country. These four routes should get you started, or link them up for one massive adventure!

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Countries on which these adventures take place who have occupied and cared for these lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

1. Thunderbolts Way

Dunghutti & Anaiwan Country

Length: 290km
Start: Gloucester
End: Inverell
Towns to Visit: Walcha, Uralla

Thunderbolts Way weaves up and along the Great Dividing Range. The short: it’s big on scenery and small on traffic.

How to Get to Thunderbolts Way

Thunderbolts Way starts in Gloucester, which is a one hour drive from Forster along The Bucketts Way. Driving from Sydney you’ll want to turn off the Pacific Highway (A1) onto Bucketts Way just after Raymond Terrace.

Places To Stay – Thunderbolts Way



  • Walcha Motel
  • Redhill Cottage
  • Valley Views Cottage
  • Old Greenwells B&B
  • Walcha Caravan Park
  • Walcha Guesthouse
  • Walcha Royal Cafe & Accommodation


  • Apsley Falls (Oxley Wild Rivers National Park)
  • Tia Falls (Oxley Wild Rivers National Park)
  • Budds Mare (Oxley Wild Rivers National Park)
  • Riverside – Oxley Wild Rivers National Park (low range 4WD access only)
  • Jacky Barkers – Nowendoc National Park (low range 4WD access only)
  • Youdales Hut (Oxley Wild Rivers National Park)
  • Mooraback (Werrikimbe National Park)
  • New Country Swamp (Mummel Gulf National Park)

For a full list of accommodation options in Walcha visit Where to Stay – Walcha NSW


New England High Country’s Best Road Trips

The view at Budds Mare



  • Clover Cottage Uralla
  • Aureila’s Farm Bed and Breakfast
  • Kings Cottage & the Bower Uralla
  • Grace Cottages


  • Wooldridge Recreation and Fossicking Area (free)

Places to Eat and Drink Along Thunderbolts Way

If you’re a bit over your packed lunches and your sad muesli bar brekkies, you’re probably wondering where to hit for a phenomenal feed on Thunderbolts Way. Uralla’s got you covered with a variety of cafés and hearty pub meals.


The Alternate Root

With an open floor plan, exposed brick, and comfy couches, The Alternate Root harnesses ultimate brunch energy. Say hello to your go-to brunch picks with a decadent twist! Sub out hash browns for house-made potato rostis and all the fixings made fresh with local produce.

Plus, you can soak up Uralla’s architectural history knowing you’re sitting in the historic ‘Trickett’s’ Building formerly home to the town’s general store. (As a bonus, our photographer/barista Isobel described the coffee as ‘very bloody good’.)


The Pie Mechanic

A must-visit of Uralla is The Pie Mechanic, home to Craft Pies like Billy the Kid (Indian goat curry), Dolomite (roast pumpkin and leek), and Moo + Brew (beef, onion, and dark ale). If your stomach isn’t quite as adventurous as you’d hope, don’t fear, The Pie Mechanic has all the reliable favourites such as Moo Pie (classic beef) or sausage rolls.


Minnie’s Tuckshop

Minnie’s Tuckshop has sandwiches and salads made daily and quintessential feeds like bacon and egg rolls, smashed avo on toast, or acai bowls if you’re embracing your inner granola girl. Milkshakes and smoothies are a necessary pair, of course – slurp, slurp!


New England Brewing Co.

Ah yes, what you’ve all been waiting for … where to get a good beer? You can’t go past New England Brewing Co. without sipping on one (or multiple) of their tasty brews. And no need to book a brewery tour as the brewery and canning line are in full view from where you’ll be drinking.

Things To Do Along Thunderbolts Way


Walcha’s Open Air Gallery

Wander the streetscape, park and levee bank for a scenic tour of over 55 sculptures by local, national and international artists. You can pair your walk with the Walcha Sculpture Soundtrail experience or embrace the sounds of Walcha’s wildlife.


New England High Country’s Best Road Trips

Walcha’s Open Air Gallery


Natural Wonders

Walcha has an extensive list of natural wonders, many within World Heritage-listed national parks, which coincide with the aforementioned campgrounds. For deep dives on those locations, check this out.


Markets, Collectables and Second hand shops

If you’re organised, savvy, and love to mosey around markets, you can align your road trip with the third Saturday of the month. This way, you’ll be able to hit the Walcha Farmers’ Market at McHattan Park to stock up on fresh supplies.

These markets aren’t on during winter though, so plan accordingly.  If you love to sticky beak at antiques, collectables and second hand stuff, The Big Black Building and Antique Junque shop have you covered.

Thunderbolts Way History

The highway earned its name from the bushranger, Captain Thunderbolt. He’s a bit of a Robin Hood type but with less emphasis on the edgy and more emphasis on larrikin-down-at-the-pub-who-buys-drinks-with-the-money-he’s-stolen.

FAQs Thunderbolts Way

How long does it take to drive Thunderbolts Way?

It takes approximately 3 hours and 40 minutes.

Do I need to buy any passes?

This region is surrounded by a stack of jaw-dropping national parks where you can set up camp. Don’t forget to pre-book any NSW National Park campgrounds, pre-pay any entry fees where it’s needed (or grab an annual pass).

Where can I go for a swim?

Locations like Riverside have beautiful bodies of water to swim in. Be mindful that not every watering hole is swimmable, so be sure to adhere to signage and to do your research.

2. New England Highway

Ngarabal, Ngoorabul and Anaiwan Country

Length: 914km
Start: Yarraman, Queensland
End: Hexham, New South Wales
Towns to Visit: Tenterfield, Glen Innes, Armidale

The New England portion of this highway lasts about 211km from Tenterfield to Uralla. More than 1000m above sea level, you’ll want windows down, and music up, to savour this road and its insight into country life.

How to Get to New England Highway

Hexham (the NSW start) is 25 minutes out of Newcastle on the Pacific Highway. To get to Yarraman (QLD start) take the M5 and Warrego Hwy to DAguilar Hwy/A17.

Places To Stay Along New England Highway



  • Roseneath Station Farm Stay
  • Tenterfield Lodge Caravan Park
  • Robinsons Cabin
  • The Bungalow & Ivy Leaf Chapel
  • Red & White Rose Cottages


  • Cypress Pine campground (Boonoo Boonoo National Park)
  • Bald Rock Creek Camping Area (Bald Rock National Park)
  • Bald Rock campground (Bald Rock National Park)


New England High Country’s Best Road Trips

‘Country rooads, take me (away from) hoooome’

Glen Innes


  • Deepwater Bank
  • New England Motor Lodge
  • Glen Innes Motel
  • The Bank Guesthouse Glen Innes
  • Glen Waverly Farmstay
  • Gimardi Gatehouse


  • Fossicker Caravan Park
  • Glen Innes Showgrounds

For all accommodation options in Glen Innes visit their website.



  • Petersons Guesthouse & Winery
  • Country Comfort Armidale
  • Armidale Tourist Park


  • Wollomombi campground (Oxley Wild Rivers National Park)
  • Dangars Gorge campground (Oxley Wild Rivers National Park)

For all accommodation options in Armidale visit their website.

Places to Eat and Drink Along New England Highway


Tenterfield is stuffed with fantastic feeds like Stonefruit, The Potting Shed, and The Commercial Hotel, with everything from classic pub feeds to fine dining. In fact, the food and culture scene of Tenterfield is so vibrant, it deserved its own article.

Glen Innes

Glen Gowrie Distillery

Gin is arguably more of an experience and a vibe rather than simply a drink. Glen Gowrie Distillery backs this philosophy and produces an abundance of adventurous bevvies like blueberry gin, bushranger gin, or even a cheeky choccy milk stout liqueur.


New England High Country’s Best Road Trips

The Local, Glen Innes


The Goldfish Bowl

Carbohydrates and coffee are the way to anyone’s heart. The Goldfish Bowl makes organic bread on traditional hot bricks, pastries to scoff down, and, on Fridays, woodfired pizza. Coffee is roasted onsite ensuring high quality, consistency, and peak deliciousness.

The Welder’s Dog

They’ve got a brewery and bar in Armidale, but the Welder’s Dog name crops up in other locations too, thanks to their bars in Tamworth and Inverell. What’s cool about The Welder’s Dog is that they use locally sourced barley for their brews. If you’re looking for a spot to kick back with friends, listen to live music, and sip on high-quality craft beers, you’ve found it.

Things to Do Along New England Highway


While we’ve listed a couple of things here to pique your interest, you can get your hands on everything Tenterfield-related in this article. 


All these salt-of-the-earth towns love their markets and their produce. Tenterfield is no exception.

They’ve got multiple on offer like the Tenterfield Farmers & Producers Markets, Tenterfield Railway Markets, and Eat Street Tenterfield. The former occurs every three weeks, with the others acting as ring-ins on special occasions.

Cherrydale Orchid

Hiya fruit fiends! This one’s for you. Pretty much all Aussies love summer fruit, particularly stone fruit. Cherrydale is a family-run orchid; they harvest from November to February, depending on the fruit.

During this time, they’re serving up apricots, cherries, peaches, you name it, directly to the public – talk about farm to table. They also have a café where you can enjoy these fresh delights. They’re open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 9am-5pm.

Glen Innes

The Sage and Clover

Forget Woolies and Coles, the ever-wholesome The Sage and Clover has all the necessary goodies required for stocking up. Everything in this store screams ‘I will not hurt your stomach later’. Plus, there are all the soaps and cleansers you might need to get rid of your camping pong.

The Book Market

If you’re looking for your next road trip read, The Book Market has an impressive collection of pre-loved books. Soak up that old book smell! If literature’s your thing, scour the store because there are sure to be some early editions of undeniable classics. They may have cracked spines, but these babies are well-preserved.

The Super Strawberry

Who doesn’t froth a fresh berry? The Super Strawberry is just three minutes away from the town’s centre; what a short trip for a cheeky treat. You can grab a punnet of berries to go or dine in and devour strawberry-related guilty pressures. Strawberries and cream, scones with strawberry jam, pavlova topped with strawberries—you get the picture.


New England High Country’s Best Road Trips

The Super Strawberry


Australian Standing Stones

This location is the National Celtic monument to honour Celtic nations whose descendants contributed to Australian life. There are 38 standing stones with 24 of those stones representing 24 hours in a day. And interestingly, each stone has a different relationship with the sun (dependent on its position). Some favour the summer solstice and others the winter solstice, but all sit on a sundial. You can also visit the Human Sundial or try your luck pulling out the Excalibur Sword.


Natural Wonders

Armidale is renowned for its glorious array of natural wonders within 15 minutes of town. In fact, there are too many to list just here. Check out this rundown of all the must-visit locations.

Read more: Natural Wonders: A Guide to New England High Country’s Best National Parks

New England Highway History

It’s been around for nearly 100 years, and it’s been dubbed Australia’s Route 66 … which basically means, the highway is long, it represents an evolution in road standards, and you can guarantee there are plenty of places to stop off along the way.

FAQs New England Highway

What are the roads like, and should I anticipate any specific driving conditions?

For the most part, the roads are sealed along this highway. The speed limit does vary frequently so keep your eyes peeled to avoid a pesky ticket.

Where can I watch the sunrise or sunset?

If you’re hunting golden hour, you’ve got to check out Mt MacKenzie or Bald Rock. All details for both are right here.


Read more: Natural Wonders: A Guide to New England High Country’s Best National Parks


New England High Country’s Best Road Trips

Mt MacKenzie Scenic Drive

3. Guyra Road

Kamilaroi, Anaiwan and Kamilaroi Country

Length: 90km
Start: Guyra
End: Inverell
Towns to Visit: Guyra, Tingha, Inverell

Guyra Road is short and sweet with pit stops giving small-town Australia energy.

How to Get to Guyra Road

To drive to Guyra, take the New England Highway north for approximately 39 km until you reach Guyra.

Places to Stay on Guyra Road



  • Guyra Motor Inn
  • Top of the Range Retreat



  • Tingha Gems Caravan Park



  • Club Motel
  • Oxford on Otho
  • Inverell Terrace Motor Lodge

For all accommodation options in Inverell visit their website Accommodation – Inverell Council.

Places to Eat and Drink on Guyra Road


Hey Joe Espresso Bar

When you need that caffeine hit, Hey Joe Espresso Bar is the place to go. Plus, they do a mean ‘benny’ toastie.

Things to Do on Guyra Road


Lamb and Potato Festival 

Guyra’s annual festival showcases local produce namely … you guessed it … lamb and potato. It occurs for a few weeks in January so you may have missed the boat this year. But circle it in your calendars for next!

The Australian Poetry Hall of Fame

These archives celebrate Australian poetry, prose, and songlines. And if poetry’s not your cup of tea, the hall is home to Guyra’s Saturday farmers and craft market.


Stonewoman Aboriginal Area

This area holds cultural significance as it was a place of women’s teaching and a ceremonial site. The walk there is 2km return; be mindful of snakes and other creatures on your walk.


New England High Country’s Best Road Trips

Stonewoman Aboriginal Area



In a town dubbed The Sapphire City, it’s unsurprising that fossicking is a common pastime. Before you grab your implements, remember to check which areas are fossicking-friendly.

Guyra Road History

This road, just a portion of its New England counterparts, shows an authentic picture of small-town Australia. Before Guyra Road, Guyra relied on the railway which was brought to the area in 1884 and coincided with the conception of the village of Guyra.

It is no secret that colonisation is a cornerstone of this area’s history. For thousands of years before European settlement, Kamilaroi was home to Indigenous communities and their ceremonial patterns.

FAQs Guyra Road

Where can I find a supermarket?

You can find big supermarkets like Woolies and Coles in Inverell. Whereas Guyra hosts smaller places like IGA and a SPAR Express.

Will I have reception?

On Guyra Road you’ll lose service often. If you download offline Google Maps while you’ve got bars, you’ll at least be able to get to your next destination.

4. Gwydir Highway

Bundjalung, Gumbaynggirr, and Ngoorabul

Length: 567km
Start: South Grafton (northern rivers of New South Wales)
End: 14km north of Walgett
Towns to Visit: Gibraltar Range and Washpool National Park

Only 70km of this chunky highway exists in the New England Region (Glen Innes to Inverell). This bad boy is relatively ‘unknown’ in the traffic sense, so chances are you won’t see cars for hours.

How to Get to Gwydir Highway

Take the Pacific Highway north from Coffs Harbour/A1 for 88km until you reach South Grafton.

Places to stay Along Gwydir Highway

Gibraltar Range


  • Gibraltar House


  • Boundary Falls Campground
  • Mulligans Campground


Washpool National Park


  • Bellbird Campground
  • Commbadjha Campground


New England High Country’s Best Road Trips

Camping in Gibraltar National Park

Places to Eat and Drink Along Gwydir Highway

Gibraltar and Washpool aren’t exactly in woop woop, but they’re getting close. This is to say, you’ll be camping, you won’t have service, and you’ll be relying on your esky and your long-life foods to keep you going.

This highway passes through towns like Glen Innes and Grafton, so you can get all your goodies there before you go bush.

Things to Do Along Gwydir Highway

You won’t see any galleries or wineries on this list. Gibraltar and Washpool are all about the outdoors. Given these national parks run adjacent to one another, you’ll probably end up exploring both at the same time.

All the hikes, waterfalls and lookouts are listed here. If you’re fanging for something a bit more in depth, check this out.

Read more: Natural Wonders: A Guide to New England High Country’s Best National Parks


Gibraltar Range

  • The Needles Walk
  • Raspberry Lookout
  • Duffer Falls
  • Boundary Falls Walk
  • Lyrebird Falls Walk
  • Murrumbooee Cascades Walks

Washpool National Park

  • Coombadjha Walk
  • Washpool Walk Circuit
  • World Heritage Walk (overnight hike)


New England High Country’s Best Road Trips

The Gwydir Highway

Gwydir Highway History

This road was built way-back-when in 1867. Outside of bitumen, The Gibraltar Range and Washpool National Park themselves are rich in Indigenous history. Bundjalung, Gumbaynggirr, and Ngoorabul hosts many cultural sites and sacred places.

FAQs Gwydir Highway

What can I expect temperature-wise?

Both National Parks are about 1200m above sea level. During the day, you’re looking at late 20s to early 30s (Celsius), and at night, expect a chilly one. Even in summer, you should pack your sleeping bag.

I’m planning to do an overnight hike, what should I bring for food?

You’ll be lugging everything with you so first things first, you’ll want your food to be light. Non-perishables such as curry pouches and rice sachets can do the job for dinner, and then load up on your snacks like muesli bars, nuts, and dried fruit.


New England High Country’s Best Road Trips

Looking to zero in on some of the spots we’ve mentioned?


Read more: Natural Wonders: A Guide to New England High Country’s Best National Parks

Read more: A Weekend in Tenterfield: Where to Stay, Adventure, and Eat


Photos by @life.of.iso