Sydney to Cairns, My Way and the Highway
My Way or the Highway: Sydney to Gloucester/Nabiac.
Sooner or later you’re going to want or need to ride up or down the east coast from Sydney to Cairns or points in between. This guide shows suggestions to the two most easterly options for these routes: My way and the highway.
These routes aren’t by any means mutually exclusive, only your ride preferences and your time restraints can determine how you mix and match these rides. Enjoy.
The Highway, Sydney to Nabiac 284kms
Gotta start somewhere so let’s say you’re in Macquarie St, Sydney outside the State Parliament. Head north to Bridge St and take the right turn onto the Cahill Expressway crossing the front of the Quay with the Opera House and the Coat Hanger on your right. At the end of the Quay crossing you’ll hit the left handed corkscrew up onto the Bridge…..you might not want to waste the chance to get your knee down!
Once over the bridge, you could opt to head straight up the Pacific Hwy but it’s far more enjoyable to take the Lane Cove Exit (not the toll tunnel) and then continue down Epping Hwy (in the Bus Lane). You’ll cross the Lane Cove River for the first time at the bottom of a dip.
Continue on Epping Hwy past the right turn for the M2 until you then take the left slip road for the right turn into Lane Cove Rd, signposted, Pymble.
Follow this over the Lane Cove River for a second time and then take the first left onto Yanko Rd which soon transforms into the Comenarra Parkway. Enjoy the curves until you get to the Sydney Adventist Hospital and turn right onto Fox Valley Rd which will lead you to the Pacific Hwy where you turn left. Watch your speed through the radars outside Knox School and then turn right onto the M1 Expressway.
You will have to be in a damn hurry not to take the exit for Berowra and get yourself onto the old highway for the ride down the Hawkesbury River Bridge and then up to Mount White. Like the inland Putty, this is one of the three good riding roads for Sydney’s weekend warriors and is a great ride.
Ride this twisty until you reach the T at Calga, where you take a right and then another signed for Gosford. Eventually you hit a roundabout where you take a right and then the left sweeper back onto the Expressway.
If you don’t take the old road up to the Gosford turn, you’ve got an hour of highway riding before you hit reach the end with a roundabout and a turn right signposted Hexham. Don’t take the left on the new extension of the motorway toward Singleton on the New England.
Continue past the BP truckstop on your left and follow as the road winds down to the old bridge at Hexham where you cross it and keep on the Pacific Hwy through Raymond Terrace. There’s plenty of fuel around and once you clear the services you’ll see the turn off for Bucketts Way on your left.
If you want to head inland this is your chance to join the ‘My Way’ guide at Stroud, otherwise keep going up the Pacific.
Continue on for 80kms from the Hexham bridge and you’ll get to Buladelah, which is a nice place to take a break either at the park before the bridge or in the town itself which is now off the highway. If you want to keep going for a bit, the next good place is at Coolongolook up the highway where you can get one of the better meals at the Salty Dog and fuel at the BP across the road.
Then it’s on to Nabiac where you can get all fuel at the Caltex but probably just as important, you can drop in and see the Motorcycle Museum…just take the exit of the expressway and follow the loop around under the highway and then follow the brown signs pretty much straight ahead along Clarkson St and the Museum is on the left.
My Way. Sydney to Gloucester 374km
Leaving Sydney on this route it’s much more difficult to avoid tolls but the motorways at least save you a bundle of time.
Follow the directions in Highway Guide above for the first two paragraphs until you are through Lane Cove but then, once you’ve crossed the Lane Cove River, and climb up, get in the right lanes and take the right onto Delhi Rd and then the left onto the M2.
This becomes the M7 (more tolls) and follow this until you get to the Old Windsor Rd Exit where you take the left slip road and the hang a right and follow this road all the way to Windsor.
Continue straight at Windsor (the town is off to the left) and cross the Nepean river and follow the road as it bends sharp right and becomes Wilberforce Rd and suddenly you’re on the Putty, one of the favourite rides for most of Sydney’s weekend warriors.
This is 175 kms of wonderful riding. There’s also way too many roadside crosses and bunches of flowers so take it easy! The right turn at Bulga can be a bugger (it’s sharper than you expect and often covered with gravel), so keep the concentration on even when out of the hills.
Just outside Singleton the Putty Rd morphs into Glenridding Rd and then John St, the town’s main drag.
Continue north east along John Street as it bends right under the bridge and keep going straight, following signs to Gresford and without any effort but a fair bit of fun you’ll soon come down the hill at Gresford, and with the pub right in front of you. Turn left onto Binglburra Rd which in turn becomes Sugarloaf Rd for the run into Dungog which you’ll hit with the pub on your left.
Turn left around the pub and head out of town, over the river on Stroud Hill Road for a very enjoyable zip into Stroud Rd. Easiest way is to continue to the T and then turn left on Bucketts Way but an enjoyable short cut is to take the left at Williams Rd signposted Stroud Rd, about 2kms west of Bucketts. (This has a very nice swimming hole to the right of the causeway.)
Once on Bucketts head north for Gloucester where, next month the fun steps up a gear! In Gloucester you’ll soon see the Avon Valley pub on your right and Roadies Café on you left.
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There’s a very enjoyable connecting road between our Nabiac and Gloucester if you want to swap routes. From Nabiac town just head back to the Caltex servo and follow the signs for Bucketts Way and Gloucester. From Gloucester, just head north from Roadies and take the first right onto Denison St which soon becomes Bucketts and leads you down to Nabiac.
Old Road Out of Sydney.
The two servos on the highway at Berowra are the traditional meeting spots for riders heading up the Old Road. Both serve all grades of fuel. There’re two cafes along here which are very popular with riders: The Pie in the Sky at Cowan and Road Warriors at Mt White. It would not be unfair to say their popularity is due to their location rather than any special services for riders or the quality of their fare or service.
A nice little village doing its best now it’s become a billabong town: a few good cafes, a decent bakery and the Plough Inn pub and there’s fuel at the Shell. I reckon the Café on Main is the pick for food whilst the Shiralee Café has never been overly welcoming. If you’re just after a leg stretch, park with the ducks on the left before you cross the Myall River. There’s also an IGA on the main street for your rider provisions.
No by-pass here! The Salty Dog Café and Gallery are on your left as you head north, just to the south of the two servos. This is a quirky place that is well worth a stop. The service is friendly and fast and the atmosphere is relaxing. The BP and the Caltex sell all grades of fuel.
The Caltex here is massive and has all grades but to fill your own tank, loop back under the Highway and head to either the Village Cafe or the Greenhouse Cottage. The Motorcycle Museum is up along Clarkson Rd. Run by the magnificent Margaret Kellaher, it’s well worth the stop.
Make sure you’re full leaving Windsor as there’s no longer any fuel available on the Putty. You’ll find the Grey Gums Café on your right about 86kms north of Windsor and it makes a good break.
The Caltex at the western end of the main drag has all types of fuel and just up and across the road, the Singleton Pie Shop is one of the best bakeries around.
The Bank Hotel on the corner of Hooke and Dungog streets is one of my favourites whist just down on Dowling you’ll find Chillbillies which does a top job of producing some really nice meals. Never been disappointed here. The servo is a bit difficult to find: Head south on Dowling and turn right at the end and follow Mary as it curves left and you’ll find the servo.
Roadies Café is no longer in the hands of Mark its founder and the service seems to’ve dropped away. But the bikes are still interesting and the vibe is good. There’s a couple of other very acceptable nosh joints on the main street. Best accommodation is at the Roundabout at the top end of town and fuel can be got at the Shell on the left as you head out of town.
PART 2 Nabiac/Gloucester to Ebor/Bellingen.
The Highway: Nabiac to Bellingen.
This is the real boring bit of the Pac, and you’re probably only going to use it if you’re doing a real A2B ride. It’s full of roadworks and mundane sections but the straightening of the highway has left any number of small ‘billabong’ towns which, though no longer on the main drag, are doing their best to survive and offer good grub and friendly service.
Head north out from Nabiac on the Pac for the mundane ride up to Taree and cross the Manning River. About 4kms after the bridge you’ll see the signs for the left turn for the Other Side Gallery and Café. If it’s been a while since you selfadministered caffeine under the gaze of a naked woman or indeed just had the good drink in a beautiful waterside setting, don’t go past this place.
Otherwise just 7kms further is the left turn for the Coopernook Pub. Take the left and then follow the road as it bends back to the pub. Once you’re done head north again past where you came in and take the next left onto Macquarie St and the roads will lead you back to the highway.
About 60kms north of Nabiac you’ll see a couple of signs for Rosies Café at Johns River. Take the slip road on the left and then take a right at the roundabout and head over the highway before you take a left at the T and Rosies is on your right. To rejoin just retrace to the roadabout and take the slip onto the highway.
There’s all fuel at the humungeous BP at the intersection of Oxley and then the next good spot for a break off the highway but with no fuel is Telegraph Point just 16km further north.
The roadworks finally come to an end south of Kempsey where the new bypass saves a bundle of time. You now have a roadwork-free zip up to Macksville. If you are nearing the end of your day’s riding, and you’re suffering from twisty deprivation, the Pub With No Beer , is 30 kms west of the highway from the Macksville United Servo.
Otherwise cross the Nambucca River and follow the highway right and continue for 35 kms until you get to the slip road left for Bellingen on Waterfall Way and you’re then just 11kms from the town.
My Way: Gloucester to Ebor
Head out of Gloucester through the roundabout at the north end of town, past the Shell servo on your left and continue for around 8kms. Take the right turn for Nowendoc/ Walcha rather than continue west for Scone.
This is the famed Thunderbolts Way, with its uniformly crap surface and the signs of blackspot fixing and ‘Roads to Recovery 2001’ are surely some kinda sick joke.
Bretti Reserve, about 40kms north of Gloucester is one of the best riverside free camps you will ever come across.
15kms further you’ll find Carsons Pioneer Lookout and then it’s on to Walcha. From Walcha head north from the roundabout to the west of the river bridge beside the Royal and head for Uralla.
Dangar Lagoon can be a good spot for a break and a bit of bird watching before you follow the bends into Uralla where you meet the dreaded New England Highway. You only have 20 kms on this before passing the Armidale Airport with its top class Caltex Servo on the western side and then take a right onto Uralla Rd at the immediate roundabout signposted Armidale.
Follow this as it soon bends right and morphs into Kentucky St and then bends left over the railway and becomes Dangar St. Follow this north for five blocks and then take the right onto Barney St. You are now on Waterfall Way.
Follow it for 40kms out from Armidale and you’ll find a turn north for Wollomombi just 1500metre from the main road and from here it’s just 40km more to Ebor.
Part three: Belligen to Murwillumbah via the Highway (pretty much!)
* Asterisks indicate locations mentioned in the accompanying town notes.
Head east from Belligen on Waterfall Way and turn north on the Pac Hwy for the 23kms up to Coffs Harbour* where you have a few options on getting to Grafton.
BLUE Route: If you’re staying on the highway just continue through Coffs past the Big Banana on the left and then it’s 20 kms to Woolgoolga* and then another 60kms to Grafton* where the highway bends right around the Truckies’ Memorial.
RED Route: Approaching Coffs continue straight through the first big roundabout and go up the rise with the Windmill on your left. Take the left onto Combine St signed for Coramba*. Follow the Coramba signs right onto Azalea and then left onto Coramba Rd for the 15kms up to the town itself and continue another 11kms to Nana Glen*.
Yellow Detour: If you just NEED to experience the Big Banana, you can still cut through to Nana Glen. Continue north through Coffs and the big yella fella is on your left. Then head north for just over 1 km and then take the left to Searly Lookout/Opal Centre onto Bruxner Park Rd. Continue until you hit the T at Bucca Rd where you take the left for the run down to Nana Glen. Alternatively you can continue a further 1 km up the A1 past the Searly Rd turn and take the left onto Bucca Rd signposted Nana Glen.
From Nana Glen, you’ve now 50kms of very sweet riding up to Grafton.
As you get to South Grafton, you bend sharp left onto Ryan St and then take a right at the first roundabout followed by a quick left onto the highway north and you’re back on the Pac!
Grafton City is straight at that first roundabout and over the Clarence. To rejoin the highway you have to retrace you steps to Sth Grafton.
Fifteen kms up the road you’ll see the signs left for Ulmarra* and you then have good refreshment options at Broadwater* and Newrybar* before taking a left 178kms north of Grafton onto the Tweed Valley Way and the 25kms of sweet riding into Murwillumbah.
Ebor to Murwillumbah via My Way
Green Route: The Ebor to Grafton stretch has some memorable twisty sections plus stretches of more open curves, all of it great riding but can be prone to heaps of tree debris when the wind’s up. Take notice of ‘Stock on Road’ signs as the long paddock here is well used. Seventy five kms north you’ll get to the Nymboida Coaching Station, once owned by the mild mannered Rusty Crowe but currently ordered closed due to issues about alleged illegal water taking from the river out back. Pity!
From here it’s just on 40kms til you meet up with the Blue Route. Follow the road through the 90º left and then go straight through the roundabout for the city centre.
Go through a couple of smaller roundabouts and then take a right on the main street (Prince St), go under the old railway bridge and then take a left at the northern end park which is on your right, following signs for Casino which is 100kms north on Summerland Way, the most ordinary stretch of this inland route.
More choices here at Casino: Nothing wrong with continuing on the Summerland for the 30kms up to Kyogle. If you do, at the north end of Kyogle there’s a fork with a Caltex Servo between the tines. Take the right here onto Kyogle Rd and follow its curves up and out of town and keep on it for the 67kms to Murrwillumbah. Warning: this road is crap! The insides of pretty much every corner are pot holed and scarred. Not a place to be riding B’OUT!
A couple of options:
Purple Route: Head east toward Lismore on the Bruxner. When you get to Lismore, at the first roundabout at Elliott St, don’t take the right over the bridge into the town centre but continue straight and then take the fourth left onto Casino Rd (signposted Kyogle) and follow it til you get to Tuncester. Here take the right signposted Cawongla and Rock Valley*.
Some great vacant back roads riding here for the 29 kms to Cawongla, where you take the right onto the Green Route for a 40km blatt into Uki.
Yellow Route: If you wanna channel your inner hippie: don’t take the left for Rock Valley but continue straight on Union St then just over the bridge take the left signposted Nimbin for the 30km zip north taking great care of the spaced out kombis with even more spaced out drivers.
Twelve kms north of Nimbin bear right onto Blue Knob Rd and then 10 kms later take the right onto the Green Route for Uki and Murwillumbah.
The last big town on the highway with no bypass. The Tourist Office is on the west just north of Combine St (the 2nd Coramba Turn) as you arrive in the town. They have no biker specific information. There’s a huge IGA on Park Ave, right at the next set of lights up north of the Info Office. Two good bike shops in town for anything your bike may need, both on the northern side of town: AllRider Motorcycles (T 026652 3636 Take Beryl St west off the highway) and North Coast V Twins (T 02 6650 4200 Take Orlando east off the h’way). Fuel of all types.
The Guru Nanak Sikh Temple is well worth a visit. Heading north take the well signed slip road exit for Woolgoolga and then go through the roundabout, under the h’way and follow Solitary Islands Way. You’ll see the temple. To rejoin the Pac, put your shoes back on and continue north and the signs will lead you. If you want a longer break, take the east option at the roundabout north of the temple and head to the beach on Clarence St. You’ll see the IGA on Queen just behind the south headland.
The Idle Inn here is one of the most popular biker cafes probably in NSW and with good reason. On the east side of the road through town, run by bikers for bikers, if it were surrounded by crap roads I’d still detour to it, but the riding is another bonus. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
The pub here featured a few months back in AMM and the town has a couple of very nice cafes. In the bakery you’ll see a pizza oven which the geniuses on Coffs Council forced them to close because it was too popular. Not to worry, their pies are into the excellent range. Small BP just up from the pub.
The Glenreagh General Store serves top hot grub and damn decent coffee. Very popular with dirt(y) bikers from the surrounding trails. When you open the doors of the Golden Dog Hotel, the smell of those horrible toilet disinfectant tablets hits you like a brick. There’re better places around!
Plenty of Fuel here, much of it on the highway to save going into the town. If you’re after a good pub feed the new Clocktower Hotel on the main town drag is very nice. Grafton Motorcycles is just over the first roundabout when you come in from Glenreagh. (T: 02 6642 1154)
The Commercial Pub backs onto the Clarence River and its beer garden is idyllic. The bar doubles as a café serving good caffeine and decent cookies. The full menu is comprehensive and the service is top notch. What more do you want from an R&R spot? Just head west at the Post Office/General Store/Servo and stop before you hit water!
A couple of break options here: If you want to sit outside in a beautiful garden or verandah and made to feel you are imposing on the serenity of the curt staff, then head for Melba’s Verandah Café. If however you want to refresh in a beautiful building, chowing on homemade goodies served by top folks, best to head to church! Our Daily Bread Café on the north end of town is run by Alannah and David, is open 9.00 til 3.00 every day ‘cept holidays and the new bitumen driveway makes parking your ride a piece of cake.
Very easy to slip past this one. It is signposted from the south so keep your eyes out about 15kms north of the Bruxner intersection for the township to the west. Harvest Café is a very classy café/restaurant in beautifully restored buildings and surrounded by some interesting shopping. Rejoining is easy, just continue north and blend back onto the Pac.
Probably the most helpful, honest and knowledgeable Tourist Office in the state is at the north end of town whilst a Super IGA is on the western side of the main street and Jenny’s Café on the other side will fix up belly rumblings. The Caltex and BP are at the top end of town. www.visitkyogle.com.au
There’s a very good standalone general store and café here on the south side of the Kyogle Rd just to the east of Cawongla Rd. Good people doing good stuff! (especially the pizzas on weekends! T: 02 6633 7090)
Lismore Motorcycles is on the Bruxner at South Lismore near the airport (T: 02 6621 8553). Miss Lizzies on Woodlark and The Bank on Molesworth are the best cafes I’ve tried here. The BP on the corner of Dawson and Conway sells all grades of fuel.
Nimbin is Nimbin
The best bit of news in this entire article is the re-opening of the Mt Warning Pub. After being burned down in February 2013, it re-opened in mid-August and had a great Welcome Back Party on the first Weekend of September.
If you’re after something a bit more upmarket, get over to Mavis’s Kitchen on Mt Warning Road. One of the classiest places around, based in a stunning old Queenslander that was trucked in from the Gold Coast. (head east out of town for 3kms and follow sign left. (www.maviseskitchen.com.au)
Best grub is found along Murwillumbah and Wharf streets and the Info Centre is over the Tweed and in the park to the east of the main town and the BP is a bit further up this road. If you’re coming up on the Tweed Valley Way, a couple of kms short of the town you’ll see the Tweed Regional Art Gallery to your west. Plenty of parking and the option to refresh with great views over the Tweed Valley but it’s closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
This has the smallest Post Office in Australia and a few years back it was picked up and taken down the road to its current location. Worth a stop!