Oxley Explorer Bus Trip to Tamworth
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This overnight trip idea is a combination of bussing, value for money, good pub food, a pub that caters for customers very hospitably from bar to room stays, along with country towns, mountains, rolling grassy hills, and an end to winter in New South Wales in quite a satisfying manner from a touring perspective.
The Oxley Highway was definitely a smooth and slow ride - especially on the mountainous side near Port Macquarie. I did this in a full-size coach called the Oxley Explorer
, which while requiring advance booking, is integrated into the New South Wales public transport system. It leaves Port Macquarie but collects rail passengers at Wauchope
. That is where I boarded the coach and I, the driver and several passengers embarked on what was easily the world's scariest highway. My photos taken from the coach window can't possibly reveal the altitude or the beauty or even the fear I felt but certainly didn't endure. A magnificent tour idea, a superb engineering feat to design such a 'masterpiece' of roadwork, and I have never seen a highway with so many warning signs. But it is good that it is a thrill in the sort of not wanting to retake it but for drawing out the admissions that it was easily the best bus ride I had ever taken. That means others can try the bus trip at least once and see what I saw in its hidden gem value. It's also a serious trip as the bus serves many communities based on farming, so the Oxley Highway and Oxley Explorer bus trip are not the most pretentious concepts, they are so necessary the bus journey gets overlooked in my opinion. Whether that is right or wrong is something I can't fully figure out yet.
The mountainous section suddenly changed to rolling grassy hills as the bus got closer to Walcha. This small town has beautiful deciduous trees, at a small park where a passenger boarded and we all took a break and a leg stretch. Walcha has attractive and cosy buildings and the New England Hotel. It's the heart of the region and precedes where the Oxley Highway meets the New England Highway. Once on the New England Highway, there are a few towns to get through and then onto Tamworth
. It terminates at Tamworth Railway Station and across the road was my pre-booked accommodation, at The Tamworth
where straight away got my key, had a good quality counter fish and chips in a takeaway for consumption with disposable cutlery. Walcha, my pub kitchen takeaway fish and chips and the room example shown below:
The pub was selected due to its proximity to the railway station, I was simply fortunate they did everything tastefully, with quality, care and thought. A warm pub with walls designed for cooler climates didn't need a split system despite it being available. It's approximately three-quarters of the tariff of a motel, and you get what you pay for which is a charming and regional city pub stay, It wasn't seedy and even was furnished well. Where things required detail they were done, such as new air con, clean rooms, well-polished floorboards and clean curtains and bedding. Personally, it exceeded expectations and its convenience to the rail station combined with its usefulness in hospitality was valued. Monday night is not a great test but as a non-drinker, I had to think realistically, if you like good food and beer and country train travel this place is it.
What an unexpectedly breathtaking trip - what started as a simple bus trip boarding at Wauchope near Port Macquarie progressed through high-forested mountains and then onto New England's grassy hills, through charming country towns and into Tamworth. I got my room key within a minute of disembarking my bus trip. The bus trip idea is a hidden gem and well worth it at least once to try. Despite my claim that it is a scary highway, the service runs every week once in both directions so it has much reliability. The cost of adult fare depends on whether it is part of a train ticket, but I can't see it being more than 35 Aussie dollars one way, which for four hours of quality driving is good even if the highway wasn't special or a hidden gem or honestly scary. The trip is worth a hundred dollars but they can't charge that in reality hence a great chance to try this less likely travel idea and appreciate good bus driving on challenging roads.
262217 - 2023-08-28 09:45:36