We were really undecided today whether to only go as far as Bathurst and do some sightseeing, maybe a winery or two or keep pushing ahead. When we arrived in Bathurst we had to do the obligatory run around Mount Panarama -twice. Going through the S bends at the top of the track gives you a real appreciation for the expertise of the drivers when they are racing through there flatout. All we had to contend with was a local walking beside the track waving his arms making motions to slow down- in all honesty we were within the speed limit but the silly old dude was a hazard as he was walking on the inside of a blind corner. A road work crew that kept us at 40km’s for most of the back straight was a bit disappointing.
After having a delicious Vietnamese pork roll at Bernard’s Bakery we decided to keep going. Olive had been running so well that we didn’t really want to stop. Heading out of Bathurst we made our way to Ilford on the Ilford Sofala Rd and then onto the Bylong Valley Way. The road has several steep sweeping climbs and descents and one section with a few hairpins. There are not many places to pull off especially on the ascents/ descents.
The road was sealed and in fairly good condition- the exception being one approximately 10 kilometre section of road starting a few kilometres out of Bylong and ending about where the National park starts. This section was severely pot-holed and a lot worse than some graded roads that we have driven on.
Continuing past Sandy Hollow a nice place for a stop is Hollydene Estate Wines at Jerrys Plains). Set in gardens with vine-covered pergolas and looking out over the grape vines it has the appeal of an Italian villa. A well-thought out menu and an extensive wine list makes a stop even more appealing. A glass of their Gewürztraminer or Semillion is just the thing after a long drive.
After a break it was time to push onto Newcastle. The roads become progressively busier as the New England Highway feeds into the Hunter Expressway and onto Newcastle. Or take the turn-off onto Wine Country Drive and spend a few nights in the Hunter Valley sampling the myriad of wineries in the area (but that is for another post).
Deciding that we had earned a bit of a luxury after spending time in country motels we headed for a hotel on the beach. Looking around for somewhere to eat we made a new discovery. Reserve is a bar/restaurant in Hunter St. Thursday night was steak night but this was no ordinary steak. A 800g T-Bone to share, cooked to perfection and presented beautifully. A salad and hand cut chips were complemented with a bottle of wine from a choice of four. This was all absolutely delicious. The wine list was extensive and the waiters knowledgeable and friendly. A nightcap at The Basement was a perfect way to finish off a night out after a long day.
Day 4 Cowra to Newcastle
Cowra to Bathurst via the Midwestern Highway
Bathurst to Sofala via Sofala Rd
Sofala to Ilford via Ilford Sofala Rd
Join Castlereagh Highway for one kilometere and turn off onto Bylong Valley Way and continue to Rylstone
Rylstone to Sandy Hollow via Bylong Valley Way
Sandy Hollow via the Golden Highway/ Jerry’s Plain Rd to Mount Thorley
Continue on the Golden Highway/Mitchell Line of Rd to New England Highway
Continue on the New England Highway to the Hunter Expressway and continue to Newcastle.