Thursday, November 08, 2007

Australia's best motorcycle roads. The Oxley.

The Oxley Highway

Updated and reposted 8 Nov 2007

Start of the mountain eastern side
High country
I now have some new photos of the Oxley after my recent tour so I shall kick off my posts of the best bike roads in Australia with a refresh of this previous posting. This is now a post I can look back at and see photos of the last three motorbikes I owned.

The sign is now gone but gingers creek remains
Never ending corners

Thats one happy rider
From Brisbane it is a very big two day ride but not that difficult and can be done on any fine weekend without too much trouble. Alternatively going on a 3 day long weekend will allow more time to ride the many nearby excellent roads. This area holds alot of good motorcycle riding.

How you get there is half the fun, there are alot of good roads in between there and Brisbane or Sydney. My suggestions is avoid the Pacific h-way at all costs - boring and heavy police action. The New England is not a bad highway but still rather boring on a motorcycle. Try riding over Mt Lindsey and down the Summerland way to Grafton. From Grafton you have the excellent Gwydir h-way but via Nymbodia/Ebor is even better again to Armidale. Then back across the Oxley to Port or almost to Ebor then down Waterfall way is another option.

Impossible to capture this roads twists and turns in a photo

Open country on the western side is a visual feast
If riding from the west then you will wonder what the fuss is about at first. Very open country side that while beautiful doesnt have alot of curves. You can see for miles and the temptation is to open it up a bit but watch out for farmers. Then after awhile you will hit the forest then the curves will begin to tighten. And they continue to do so until you arrive at Gingers Creek general store and the only shop between Walcha and Long Flat.

Dont count on being able to get fuel there despite the pumps. Riders keep saying you can however a mate and I have both been told 'we have no fuel'. (the horse riding holiday retreat half way down the mountain has fuel in an emergency)

Do visit the Aspley falls about 10 k out of Walcha
Leaving Gingers riding east the road is a seemingly never ending series of 30-40k posted corners that goes for 40km. That equals 100's and 100's of corners. Much more than any other road in the country and in fact more than famed motorcycle roads like the USA's tail of the dragon. After this you drop down into the valley, the sharp corners continue, followed then by more open faster road as you follow the creek in the valley to Long Flat.

Fuel is available at Long Flat. The road then still has alot more curves for you all the way to Wauhope, lovely sweepers and a few more tighter bits in places. All up you have ridden about 170 km of some of the best riding you will experience anywhere. The surface is good, the surveying mostly predictable and its so twisty that cars avoid it. Its well sign posted and void of any silly low speed limits that seem to be getting slapped on any non straight bit of road.

The road actually rides better in the opposite direction to above and I have always ridden it from east to west the next day on the return. I wanted to explain the road in the above way as many people do approach from the west first due to the lead in roads of the Thunderbolts way from the south or going via Ebor or the Gwydir range from the north.

Is it the best? I dont think there is exists an exact number one road as different bikes suit different roads and we all like different things. It is however unrivaled as the road having the most corners in Australia. I personally think its forms one of our top 3 rides along with The Great Alpine Road and The Great Ocean Road. The style of each road is very different so each is excellent in its own way. For Brisbane people this is the only one of those three within reasonably easy reach so that and the fact that the nearby Thunderbolts way and Nymbodia and Waterfall way are also wonderful riding add up to make this a must do riding experience. Seriously, do make the effort to go and ride these roads, they are special and becoming rare as increased traffic and safety concerns requires authorities to straighten out our roads. A great Easter ride destination from Brisbane or Sydney. 

PS, many more Best Motorcycle Roads posted in this blog, go to my home page to read.


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  2. Hi Chef - I have recently completed the Brisbane to Oxley H'way trip based on your was an absolutely 1st class ride! I took my time and did it over 4 days (400 Kms p/day)which was really pleasant.

    Brisbane -> Lions Rd -> Kyogle -> Grafton -> Dorrigo -> Oxley H'way to Port Mac and return via Murwillumbah -> Numinbah Valley. Absolutely loved the Grafton to Dorrigo section too.

    Met up with 7 other chaps (6 x BMWs & a Guzzi) at Dorrigo on way home and rode with them to Kyogle, had a wonderful ride through Tyringham and onto Grafton on the Armidale Road. Overall a sensational trip!

    Have you ridden the Armidale to Kempsey Road? Looks excellent on Google Maps. Thought I might try Dorrigo -> Wollomombi -> Kempsey -> Wauchope -> Oxley H'way next time.

    Great site, accurate information and observations...much appreciated.

  3. Hi Jumi,

    Good to hear you had a nice ride and that this site has been of some assist.

    That Lions Rd is a good option and quicker then Mt Lindsey - I just love the Mt Lindsey section of road so much, one of my favorite rides.

    Armidale to Ebor via Woolomombi is excellent. Then to Dorrigo is the Waterfall Way, a superb ride as you discovered. Woolomombi to Kempsey is not all sealed unfortunately.

    I mostly ride that road (Grafton to Armidale) then to Walcha then start on the Oxley hway from there and ride over it to Port. On the recent trip I rode the Oxley only east to west starting at Wauchope as I did Thunderbolts in both directions instead - so many nice roads in that area.

  4. A great review of this stellar piece of bitumen. I have only been fortunate enough to ride it once (west to east), majority of which we were accompanied by thundering rain - still a great ride even in those conditions!

  5. Beaker that reminds me to mention that anyone heading off on a ride this far away should always have some sort of wet weather gear with them.
    9 out of 10 times the forecast will be right but we all know sometimes they get it wrong. I rode down once on a fine and hot Saturday and I woke to a cold rainy Sunday.

  6. I just did the oxley today and happened to find this blog :)

    I left this morning from my house near newcastle, rode up to long flat and did 200kms worth of oxley goodness between long flat and gingers creek (the most popular section of this road if you like ur twistys)

    Then I decided I wasnt sore enough yet, and rode straight back home. 750clicks all up on a sportsbike with only a few 20minute breaks, I really am having trouble sitting down now!

    Oh and I was told by staff at gingers creek today that premium unleaded petrol is *currently* available (17th november07) but as has been said, I wouldnt rely on it as I have also been up there when they have been dry on a couple of occasions.

  7. Thats a long day in the saddle. I could not do it on a sports bike myself. I rode from Byron Bay to Tenterfield and back to Brisbane in a day on a Kawasaki ZXR once and I literally could not walk up the stairs inside the house I was living in afterwards.

    On a naked upright bike with comfy seating I find I can do that sort of distance and even a bit more for a day or two max but only if I can get on back roads and up the pace a bit to allow some good breaks.

    However the wind blast kills some of that gain, I guess this sort of thing is the realm of the big sports tourer bikes.

  8. Hi Chef - took your advice and rode the Mt Lindsey from Rathdowney to Kyogle on Saturday, have to agree it is an excellent ride. A little bit of mud and water running across the road in several corners, must have had rain the night before. Should have filled up at Rathdowney, started to get nervous as I headed down the range on the Summerland Way but fortunately came across a country store that sold unleaded (91) bike ran lumpy into Kyogle but better than pushing it in to town :-)
    Cheers Jumi

  9. Hi Chef..the Oxley is my local so I'm a pretty lucky progressing Ducati rider,Gingers is reliable for fuel these days, but Seaview resort always have fuel too and are very happy to fuel up bikes..premium of course.I haven't ridden the vic roads (yet)but have done alot of nth NSW and sth QLD.. we have unbelievably FANTASTIC riding here..gonna go back to the Tweed soon as I can, & do a bit more exploring..rode the Putty & the Old Pacific h'way last month, they're alright..I s'pose..guess I'm spoilt..thanks for the pics great job..

  10. Hi Jumi, glad you enjoyed the ride. If you fuel up at Beaudesert then will make Kyogle with plenty in reserve.
    After Beaudesert there is premium fuel at Tamrookum (usually cheaper there too) Rathdowney isnt always open, then Woodenbong, which is short ride past Summerland turn off and then 91 octane only at Grevillia - where I think you may have stopped.

    Hello Ducati girl, you are indeed lucky to have the Oxley at your feet. Between your place and mine without any exaggeration lies some of the best riding that exists in the country. A rider I met recently on holiday from Italy stated the riding here was as good as much of Europe as the roads were not jammed up with cars and ridable all year round.

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  12. Im heading up from Sydney with a mate in a week to ride the Oxley and some of the other roads in the area. We'll head up the Putty Rd to Cessnock; up Thunderbolts to Armidale; over to Byron Bay via Gwyder; then returning after a day's break via Armidale Road and down the Dorrigo Mtn to Coffs Hbr; then west across the Waterfall Way and back east via the Oxley to Port Macquarie; finally, we'll head back to Sydney via Bulladelah, Booral, Wollombi, Bucketty and the Old Road. Hope it all goes well and will fill you in on my return.

    Cheers for the great info on the site.

  13. Sounds like a great route, good selection of roads, hope you had a good ride.

  14. Hi,

    I used to live at the Mt Seaview Resort which may be the horse place down from gingers that you speak of.

    While I lived there I was not of riding age however I can always remember the bikers coming through!

    Its what led me to get my riders license 12 months ago, im planning a road trip back that way soon in fact.

    Great bit of road and I used to love it in the car, the stuff of dreams I tell you.

  15. Gday Ironchef
    I did the Oxley both ways last month with a group of 20 VTR1000's and it is simply the best. The roar of all those loud V twins up and down the hills was truly magical.
    There was fuel at Gingers Creek, cars were minimal,the weather was excellent and the road in perfect condition.
    This is the road to ride before all others.


  16. Hi Jay, Hi Fozzy,

    Very friendly folk at Mt Seaview resort, I was most grateful that day.

    20 VTR's - I bet they heard them long before you arrived at Gingers!

  17. Hi there,
    thanks for all those great ride reports. I'll be taking my bike to Australia for a few months and start in Sydney in two weeks. want to go to Byron Bay, stay there for a few weeks and do day trips from there and then further to Cairns, Cape York, Darwin and Broome, Back to Sydney via Ayers Rock. thats the plan. Am on a 990 KTM adventure and would be greatful for any top ride tips. sealed and dirt. what road would you choose from Sydney to Byron Bay?
    thanks, might see you on the road, Helmut

  18. Hi Helmut,

    Byron bay is a great place to do some riding from. Many of the roads I have listed near Brisbane you can do in day rides from Byron Bay. I ride the area near there often. A suggested route from Sydney is as follows: Some nice rides from Byron bay are included in this route: Otherwise just look at the many I have listed and the many ride reports for that area I write.
    Cannot advise much on the rest of your trip, be aware most of the riding north to Cairns, Darwin, back to Sydney will be totally straight lonely roads. Make sure you plan your fuel and don't ride at night outside of the cities of you may hit a wild animal.

  19. Drove down the Oxley from Armidale in the Winnebago Yesterday and was totally blown away by this glorious road (I was mentally riding my 1198 Ducati). I found a B&B property for sale at the bottom of the straight aways just outside of Wauchope and am now thinking of buying it as a base for bikers visiting the area. River, good food, cheap accommodation ($80 - $120 per night) and premium fuel top-ups. Anyone think this sounds like a good idea?

  20. Like any business you need to do some homework and prepare a business case to ensure the viability. I would love to leave the city and do something like that myself but not sure about the maths.

  21. My wife and I just did Tunderbolts and the Oxley in an E-type Jag. An awsom loop. I'd recomend, up the Pacific Hwy to join the Oxley at Wauchope, Then Oxley to Walcha, Thunderbolts to Gloucester, and Thunderbolts or Buckets way back to the high way. Oxley is in great shape. Thunderbolts is a bit rougher and tighter.