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.