There wouldn’t be too many HEAVY DUTY readers who haven’t done Thunderbolts. But even so, we thought it was time for a refresher and the crisp Autumn weather and a sparkling Street Glide Special were hard to refuse.
Many of you, we know, will be heading this way for the forthcoming National Thunder Rally scheduled for October, so a quick ‘recce’ was in order to endorse the route as a viable alternative to the busy New England Highway.
A quick call to frequent riding pal, David Reeves, and the Softail Deluxe was dusted off and made ready for the journey north.
We kicked off in Sydney, but the journey really began when we turned off the well-trodden Pacific Highway just after Raymond Terrace and headed north along Bucketts Way, a relaxed byway that takes you through Stroud and Gloucester – either being perfect to break the trip with a coffee and hot snack. Our Tip: The Crepe Myrtle at Gloucester
Beyond Gloucester and through little Barrington we turn right again to continue north on Thunderbolts Way, named after the notorious bushranger, Fred Ward, who roamed all through the region for several years before his death in a shootout near Uralla in 1870. Like Ned Kelly in Victoria, Captain Thunderbolt enlivened the romantic notions of the genteel highwayman despite his blatantly criminal activities. Several of his hideouts along the road are signposted, particularly Thunderbolt’s Rock near Uralla.
You could easily get carried away on any of the tight twisties, interspersed with straight stretches of throttle-worthy tarmac, but our strong recommendation is to take it chilled and enjoy the fresh air and eucalyptus. And yes, those impatient logging trucks you remember from last time are still just around the next corner. So, easy does it.
We could continue on through to Walcha where the eccentric Antipodean Tynker creates steampunk nirvana with his immaculate scrap metal creations, particularly motorcycles like the outrageous, supercharged ‘1916’, constructed from the remnants of Victa lawnmowers, brass firefighting equipment and surplus bathroom fittings. But, with autumn light fading, we headed due west direct to Tamworth along Topdale Road where our digs at the recently refurbished Powerhouse Hotel by Rydges awaited us.
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