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Travel on one of Australia’s oldest roads, the Great North Road (Tourist Drive 33), and enjoy a variety of interesting and historic stopping points. We feel that this is one of the best scenic drives for campers and travellers, due to the multitude of fun activities it offers and stunning county vistas! We have listed some of the activities and points of interest to get you started.
This journey in itself is just as interesting as each destination. As you travel on the Great North Road (also known as the Convict Trail) you’ll notice along the roadside historic viewing points, including timber, stone and sandstone built bridges and culverts. These stopping points also provide information boards about the sites along the Great North Road – which was built by convicts in conjunction with the building of culverts and bridges, between 1825 and 1836.
With a variety of towns, events and festivals to see along Tourist Drive 33, from postcard-perfect grassy paddocks to lush vineyards, Australia’s renowned wine region – the Hunter Valley, is the perfect end destination.
Where to Shop
For a detailed article on where to eat, where to shop and what you can buy when travelling on Tourist Drive 33, which might also help you with your holiday budget, see our guide Where to Eat and Shop off Tourist Drive 33.
Best Stopping Points and Places to Visit
Each town is quaint and unique, some even include wine boutiques, markets and galleries. Here is a list of towns and their main attraction, in order and correlation with the Tourist Drive 33 Map (the listed cafes can be easily seen from the road).
Towns and Main Attraction:
- Calga – Australian Walkabout Wildlife Park
- Peats Ridge – has a variety of outdoors activities, from abseiling, kayaking, horseriding to quad biking, see Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures website and for camping options too
- Kulnura – Gerry’s Cafe; this is a popular stopping point for motorcyclists
- Laguna – The Great Northern Trading Post; the GNTP is another quaint and quirky, yet historic cafe, includes a mini-store and music venue
- Wollombi – Mulla Villa, this is a must-do experience – just to view this historic homestead (above photo). This property includes a cafe, a walking track and historic sites to see, such as convict holding cells and a convict-built bridge. When you arrive at Wollombi, this will be the first stopping point before you approach the village (there are signs for Mulla Villa, you’ll see the property from the road).
- Wollombi village – there are two main markets (and festivals, listed below), for more detail see our article: A Guide to Wollombi Village and its Markets. Popular places; Grays Inn, includes – accommodation, restaurant and Noyce Brothers Cellar Door, Harp of Erin Gallery and Cafe, a general store, art gallery, Wollombi Endeavour Museum – which is included in the Historic Wollombi Walk – stroll the streets and learn about the town’s history. Or hire bikes from Myrtle House and explore a little more. Wollombi Tavern will be the first destination you will spot when you arrive in this historic town (often there are rows of shiny motorcycles parked out the front). A three-minute drive from the village is Wollombi Wines; vineyard and wine tasting room.
- Cessnock – with numerous suburbs surrounding Cessnock, this is the Hunter Valley Wine region, explore the many boutique wineries and vineyards surrounding this region.
- Hunter Valley Wine Festival (Lovedale) – held in June. Camp at Big 4/Igenia Holiday Park
- Wollombi Music Festival (Wollombi) – held in September. Camp onsite
- Wollombi Valley Sculpture Festival (Wollombi village) – held October – November. Camp at Wollombi Tavern
- A Day on the Green; Bimbadgen (Pokolbin) – various acts perform throughout the year. Camp at Dashville, campground only open during particular festival events, check the website
For some great walks in the area see our guide Walking Trails off Tourist Drive 33.
Camp and Set Up
There are two main areas for camping along or close to Tourist Drive 33 (it is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from North Sydney to Wollombi and from Wollombi to Cessnock a thirty-minute drive), to book your campground click on the underlined company link, bookings are made either over the phone or by website:
Wollombi – Wollombi Tavern (is on The Great North Road) in the heart of historic Wollombi and provides free camping on the pub’s grounds, a convenient spot, camping couldn’t be any easier here, the Tavern provides popular drink choices and substantial meals – a popular spot for motorcyclist’s. Amenities include toilets, no showers. Bookings are made via phone. And if all else goes wrong during your camping trip, they also offer cosy log cabins for hire too!
Cessnock – Big 4/Ingenia Holiday Park, (is on Mount View Road, a two-minute drive from Wollombi Road) this one is popular with the children, and includes a pool and spa, onsite BYO Thai Restaurant, Kids Club, Jumping Cushions, toilets and showers. The supermarket (don’t forget to stock up on food supplies here) is a short drive away, as with most places here, such as wine boutiques, and other restaurants and cafes – you’ll need a car to get around town, or you can hire bicycles.
Tourist Drive 33, offers a myriad of stopping points and great sites to see, it’s the perfect scenic, fun road trip holiday! (For more information on what’s on and activities in the Hunter Valley see the Hunter Valley Visitors Centre website.)
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Shelley has published a variety of online articles. With a Master’s Degree in Special Education, this has allowed her to write in the area of Education, through platforms such as the Huffington Post. Being an outdoor enthusiast, she is currently writing for the Weekender Travel and Kombi Lifestyle. She is keen to share her knowledge and enjoys writing informative articles that help the discerning traveller prepare for road travel and holidays in Australia. Shelley is the founder and editor in chief of Kombi Lifestyle.