We set out to do a loop from Wingham NSW, to Gloucester, then up the Thunderbolts Way to the Northern Tablelands, and back down to Wingham via the Nowendoc Road. The plan was to check out all the campsites along the way… and we were well rewarded with some really magnificent scenery!
Oh… and you’ll need a map… Check out this link to a PDF map of the Manning Valley you can download from Cartescope. These are really cool 🙂
Starting @ Wingham…
Farquhar St, Wingham, New South Wales
I’ve stayed here several times when I have been passing through Wingham! It is one of my favourite FREE camps in the whole valley, and right on the Manning River!!!
I’ve never had any trouble getting a level spot! Can also fluke TV at times if you are closer to the water. There is reasonable phone reception too.
This is a great free camp and an overnight (or two) IS permitted! Please park on dirt area on LHS and leave the tar area for day visitors. Loos, picnic tables, shelters, swimming, fishing etc.
And have a chat to Ron who provides visitors with tourist info daily around dusk 🙂
1292 Gloucester Rd, Wingham, New South Wales
I haven’t stayed here as I prefer the free camp @ the “Brush” (Riverside Reserve). Sites at the Showground are not particularly level, and while they might have power, clean loos, showers and washing machines etc… I personally don’t think it’s worth the nightly fee.
About 6km out along the Gloucester Road, we took the Mount George turnoff. And some 40 km on, found…
3109 Nowendoc Rd, Caffreys Flat, New South Wales
Website : www.knorritflat.com
This would now have be my absolute FAVOURITE (paid) campsite in the whole Manning valley. Knorrit Flat is set alongside the Nowendoc River, some 46km west of Wingham up the Nowendoc Road. It’s a great base to explore the area.
And what an awesome spot!
There’s a lovely river for swimming, kayaking, tubing (although a bit more water would help lol). Clean loos and hot showers. Firepits/wood. LARGE sites. Good shade. Great for families. Nice wildlife, and lovely hosts!
And don’t get freaked out by the big hill as you come in… you can get out again 😉
Peak: Adults (over 16) are $15/nite and kids 2-15 are $9/nite. Family $42
Off-Peak: Adults (over 16) are $13/nite and kids 2-15 are $7/nite. Family $35
NO EFTPOS here, so you will need CASH 🙂
Heading back down the road a few k towards Wingham, we took the Gloucester turn off and then went along approximately 6 km of good dirt road, before turning right along another 12km of dirt road to find…
569 Cundle Flat Rd, Cundle Flat, New South Wales
Website : www.cundleflatfarm.com.au
Cundle Flat is an ideal family campsite spot alongside the Manning River, with plenty of spacious sites, grassed areas, fire pits, good loos and showers, lovely hosts and great swimming, kayaking, walking etc. There is NO TV or phone reception here.
TBH, there’s not really enough shade on site, and the dirt road in might deter some adventurers.
Make sure you RING and BOOK first before going!
Adults (over 13) are $15/nite and kids 4-12 are $10/nite. NO EFTPOS here, so take CASH 🙂
We came back over that dirt… then headed to Gloucester via the Bundook Road some 39km away.
At Bundook, we picked up the windy, tarred road that took us to the Mograni Lookout just east of Gloucester! There are some really stunning views of the Gloucester township and valley from here.
Apparently, this is a free camp, although it’s not very level, there are no facilities, and it is right next to Bucketts Way. I’d recommend you give it a miss 🙂
After a spot of lunch in town at Perenti Cafe at Gloucester (YUMMO!) and some shopping for petrol and sundries, we headed south a couple of kilometres to check out…
Bucketts Way, Gloucester, New South Wales
This is little more than a roadside rest area, with a covered picnic table and good phone/TV reception. NO other facilities are available. If self-contained, this might be a nice, quiet FREE camp overnight with a scenic outlook over the golf course…
Back into town and around to near the big central park (Lions Park)… you will find:
1 Denison St, Gloucester, New South Wales
Website : www.gloucesterholidaypark.com
This is a nice, older caravan park with large sites, helpful staff and reasonable amenities, perched alongside the Gloucester River. Good TV and phone reception.
Unpowered (tent) sites are $14pp/pn, with powered sites @ $35 for 2pp/nite. Cabins also available.
I haven’t stayed here myself, but several of my friends have, and I have only heard good reports from them. 🙂
Heading west now…
And out of town along Thunderbolts Way, go through the township of Barrington, and you will find:
750 Thunderbolts Way, Barrington, New South Wales
Just over the bridge west of Barrington NSW, limited space is available for camping alongside the river (and the road). Good swimming hole, and clean loos.
Enquire @ Barrington store and pay your booking and overnight fees there. For solos, the overnight price is a bit steep (yeah I know… I’m a miser lol), so I haven’t stayed here.
Take the next sharp right hand turn to get off the Scone Road, and onto the “real” Thunderbolts way… and just a few metres up you’ll see on the right, the turnoff to…
Thunderbolts Way Barrington, New South Wales
Website : www.poleysplace.com
I’ve stayed here for several nights during one of their “events” over a long weekend. I wasn’t thrilled with being in the middle of the cow paddock with no shade (see pic), and would prefer a riverside site if available next time I visit.
Poley’s is right on the Barrington River, so good for swimming and kayaking if enough flow.
There are, however, long walks to the loos and showers. Good TV and phone reception here. Handy to Gloucester for shopping. Price is fair @ $10 per adult (14+)/nite with a MINIMUM of 2 nights. Kids 5-13 @ $5/nite
Back out on the road and heading north a fair way… you will eventually come to:
Just off Thunderbolts Way @ Tibbuc, New South Wales
This is a very nice, pretty shady area for restful FREE camping and swimming alongside a flowing Manning River, with a bit of traffic noise as it is adjacent to Thunderbolts Way.
There’s room for probably 20+ vehicles. Drop loo up on the hill. No water (other than the river), and no TV or phone reception.
I would probably be concerned in times of heavy rain, as you could get caught out by sudden river rises. But on a hot, summer day? It’s a perfect spot to spend the day in the water 🙂
(And sorry – I actually forgot to take a piccie here!!!)
And a few more kilometres up (and down, and up, and down…) the windy, hilly Thunderbolts Way…
Be careful or you WILL miss the turnoff to:
Just off Thunderbolts Way @ Bretti, New South Wales
This is a super large area flat area, w-a-a-a-y down a steep tarred entry road, for FREE camping alongside the Manning River. Most of it has little shade. The “shady” sites along the river are suited more for smaller vehicles and tents. A couple of drop toilet blocks. No TV or phone here.
The large flat area was covered in lots of dry thistles when we visited, and apparently, when the cows are in the field, the flies are a BIG problem! Go figure LOL! Despite how great some people think this area is, I wouldn’t stay here more than a night.
Just up the road…
Is the MOUNTAIN!
First up is a steep 5km ascent… a short reprieve… and then another 3km climb!
All I can say is thank God I wasn’t towing today LOL. I can see myself sitting on about 25km/hr all the way up here!
And… at the top… a thousand metres above sea level…
Top of the range @ Thunderbolts Way, New South Wales
Definitely worth stopping for the view! Or to recover from the long blooming drive up that damn hill!!!
There’s no real space to camp overnight, and a very dodgy drop loo!
Interesting piece of history to read about here on the onsite display.
We keep heading north, and take the Nowendoc turnoff…
Brackendale Rd & Nowendoc Rd, Nowendoc, New South Wales
1km up the road, there’s a very nice flat tarred space for FREE camping in the middle of nowhere… sorry, Nowendoc. This is next to the Memorial Hall, and has an extremely pleasant rural outlook.
There’s a grassed picnic area and proper toilets. Good phone reception. No TV. Near shop/petrol etc at the local store. Great spot for an overnighter!
After refuelling @ the local servo, we headed back DOWN Nowendoc Road towards Wingham/Taree.
Don’t let the 60km of dirt put you off!
It’s actually quite a breathtaking drive, and TBH, a LOT easier than the one we just did coming up Thunderbolts!
The “mountain” this way is, I think, nowhere near as steep as the tar road!
And driving along the valley at the bottom through Cooplacurripa Station is… somewhat… magical! 🙂
Just a few k’s before the dirt section ends, you’ll come across the last campsite for this trip. You’ll know when you’re there because the short bit of tar road is one of the worst you’ve ever been on 🙂
Turner Ridge & Nowendoc Rds, Rocks Crossing, Number One, New South Wales
There’s not much here… A picnic table, fireplace, a loo and the river of course!
It has a nice flat grassed area to park up on… with a good solid walk down to the Nowendoc River to a nice, secluded swimming hole! No TV or phone here. But quite OK for an overnight or two away from it all.
And a couple of kilometres down the road, we’re back on the tar near Knorrit Flat Riverside Retreat again… If you want to enter the campground from this side… the sign is really tiny. Watch out or you will miss it!
And almost back at Wingham… Well… only about 50k to go 🙂
What glorious countryside we have seen on this trip… and I have just loved checking out all these campgrounds in the Upper Manning River Valley.
It’s one of my favourite parts of New South Wales.
* Notes… Regarding my comments on PHONE RECEPTION… they relate to my TELSTRA service only. I have NO idea about other suppliers, sorry.
And if you want to know about “furbabies”… please click through to the links provided, or get yourself a copy of WikiCamps from the App Store or Google Play! It’s well worth the tiny investment 🙂
Also… Would I take my caravan over the dirt roads mentioned above? Well… yes. There are no signs advising me otherwise. Most of the surface is fairly good (i.e. few corrugations and no water crossings/fords) and as long as you go slow enough you won’t loosen too many bolts 🙂 The road is quite narrow in places, so be VERY aware of any oncoming traffic… but we hardly saw any. The “hill” up the mountain near Nowendoc is around 7.5km long… but I really don’t think it is as steep overall as Thunderbolts.