Adventurer Emma Ryan shares her favourite drives in NSW
Thunderbolts Way, Gloucester to Inverell
Weaving through verdant farmland, across trickling rivers and around thickly forested mountains, Thunderbolts Way is a 290km sealed road linking the Newcastle hinterland with New England. It passes through the quaint towns of Barrington, Walcha and Uralla, while a detour will lead you to Tamworth and Armidale respectively. Touted as one of the most beautiful drives in Australia, Thunderbolts Way is not to be missed.
Bells Line of Road, Richmond to Lithgow
The slowpoke’s way to get over the Blue Mountains, Bells Line of Road is also the more scenic option. Fully sealed, it meanders from the Hawkesbury region through the historic town of Kurrajong Heights and apple pie country at Bilpin. It eventually delivers you to Lithgow, but not before wooing you with some truly breathtaking Blue Mountains scenery.
Silver City Highway, Broken Hill to Tibooburra
A true Outback adventure, the Silver City Highway traverses the remote Corner Country from Broken Hill to the Queensland border. Predominantly unsealed, enjoy the vast outback landscapes and rocky escarpments of the Barrier Ranges, have a cold beer at Packsaddle Pub (an outback icon), explore the ruins of Milparinka before rolling into Tibooburra, NSW’s most remote town and also one of its most charming. From there journey to Cameron’s Corner, where NSW, South Australia and Queensland intersect. You’ll need a decent 4WD to conquer this one.
Kosciusko Alpine Way, Jindabyne to Khancoban
Weaving through the spectacular Snowy Mountains, this drive is a high altitude delight that is fully sealed but will require you to carry snow chains in winter. It potters alongside the Thredbo River and passes through Thredbo, before scaling the Great Dividing Range at Dead Horse Gap and dropping down the western side of the Divide to Khancoban.
Capertee Scenic Drive, Capertee to Glen Alice
Did you know we have our very own Grand Canyon right here in NSW? Well, this one is slightly smaller, making it the second largest canyon in the world. It’s the Capertee Valley in the Blue Mountains, and its towering sandstone escarpments and rolling green pastures will take your breath away. Follow Glen Davis Road into the valley then Glen Alice Road, which is unsealed.
Waterfall Way, Bellingen to Armidale
If you think the Waterfall Way sounds pretty dreamy, you’d be right. Stretching from NSW’s North Coast to Armidale in New England High Country, it’s a sealed, windy mountain road that traverses pristine subtropical rainforest and passes some of Australia’s most beautiful waterfalls including Ebor and Wollomombi Falls.
Moss Vale Rd, Kangaroo Valley, Southern Highlands to Nowra
Linking the Southern Highlands with Nowra, Moss Vale Road takes you over two mountain passes and through the stunning Kangaroo Valley between them. It’s a winding, sealed road with many a hairpin turn and stunning vistas throughout. Stop for a kayak at the town of Kangaroo Valley, take in the beautiful Fitzroy Falls than enjoy the delights of the quaint towns of the Southern Highlands, like Bowral and Moss Vale.
Darling River Run
A true outback odyssey, the Darling River Run is an off-road adventure alongside Australia’s longest river as it weaves through Outback NSW from Walgett to Mildura. This epic journey can be broken down into smaller chunks for those on a limited timeframe. It incorporates stunning outback landscapes and rich indigenous and pastoral history. Take the opportunity to stay at a working property like Trilby Station, for an authentic taste of life in the bush.
Old Glen Innes Road, Grafton to Glen Innes
An idyllic country meander through the Northern Rivers region of NSW, the Old Glen Innes Road is a former stock route that passes through mountainous cattle country alongside clear, perennial flowing rivers whose gentle rapids give way to deep, rocky pools perfect for swimming. Highlights include the historic ghost town of Dalmorton and the impressive, convict-built tunnel where the road passes through the cliff. It’s a good quality unsealed road suitable for most vehicles.