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Tourist Drive 33 is a major tourist drive from Calga in the western part of the Lower Central Coast to Branxton in the Hunter Valley, the second longest tourist drive in New South Wales, the second most promoted tourist drive in New South Wales and the longest interior tourist drive in Australia that's not in Victoria.

The brown Tourist Drive 33 markers used to navigate the route.

Understand[edit]

No other place in the Australia continent has long interior tourist routes as well situated as this one - either the views, access, wineries, the length and variety of environments or their historical significance pale in comparison. To travel from either Gosford or Hornsby along this route, even only in sections if restricted by time or budget, is a memorable experience.

Glenworth Valley and the Hunter Valley Gardens are situated along this route, making it one of the most heavily used tourist drives in Australia along with the Grand Pacific Drive or Great Ocean Road (B100).

For a route to be classified as a Tourist Drive or Tourist Route in New South Wales, each drive must go through nomination process, it could be promoted to a tourist drive. However, in the early 2010s, 12 of around 70 tourist drives in New South Wales were decommissioned - meaning they lose their status, however, Tourist Drive 33 was one of their first tourist drives declared in the 1960s - and it's one of the few Tourist Drives that are still standing today that were declared in the 1960s, better than it originally was with much more side trips and more places to see.

If you wanted to go directly via the Pacific Motorway and B82, then it will take about 2 hours to go from Sydney to the Hunter Valley, but using this route will probably take 2.5 hours non-stop without traffic. However, you'd want to take at least 2 nights to fully explore this drive, into detail and not missing out on the best aspects of this drive and if you want to explore every single aspect of this drive, then it'll take a week.

History[edit]

Parts of this route were built by convicts in the early 1800s to connect Sydney to the Hunter Valley. Construction of the Great North Road began in 1826. It was considered one of the greatest engineering records for the early 19th century.

The Great North Road is 240 km long, and parts of it are part of Tourist Drive 33. Most of the road is used today as an alternate way to get to the Hunter Valley, and is also the scenic route.

Much of the 240 km of the Great North Road has been renamed, such as to Wisemans Ferry Road, Old Northern Road or Old Great Northern Road; however, the original name is still used on the section between Mogo Creek and Wollombi. Meanwhile in Sydney, the Great North Road in Five Dock/Abbotsleigh was also once part of the same road.

The Great North Road was not a continuous road for 240 km. Occasionally, there were ferries and parts of it was split. To this day, some parts of the road are not connected and there are some ferry crossings (e.g. Wisemans).

Regardless, the road was an iconic architecture and engineering feat for the 19th century. Some parts are scenic, too. The sandstone formations, which can still be seen in some parts, are an icon of the drive.

Wisemans Ferry; Part of the Great North Road, but not part of TD33.

The modern-day Great North Walk had also origins from this route. The 200-km Sydney to Newcastle road passes through some of this route — mainly the route of the Great North Road.

Prepare[edit]

There are parts of the drive that have no mobile signal. You will most likely need to carry a satellite phone. It can get mildly windy in parts, especially in those on the higher altitudes of Mangrove Mountains. In some areas, especially in Glenworth Valley, there are so much flies that you will almost certainly want to carry an insect repellent.

The next question is if you want to drive the whole way on the road, or stop and enjoy a kayak or horse ride at Glenworth Valley or see some flora and fauna at Hunter Valley Gardens. This will almost certainly come down to time. A simple trip along the road can be quite time consuming. For example, from the Hornsby city centre to the Hunter Valley Gardens can take up to 3 hours on the road non stop. There are other direct routes you can take to get you there faster without going on the winding scenic road like the M1 Pacific Motorway on the east and the M15 Hunter Expressway to the north.

You can do the road in a long day starting quite early from Hornsby and finishing the loop back quite late. If you do so, make sure you are road tripping with someone, or a group of you who can share the driving. There are also options in staying in one of the villages or Glenworth Valley, Peats Ridge, Wollombi or the Hunter Valley along the road and breaking the trip in multiple days.

Climate[edit]

The climate of most of the drive varies from very hot to somewhat cool. In summer, the weather can get to a scorching 40˚C, while in winter temperatures can get very cold compared to the rest of New South Wales and drop to 12˚C. There is also has a wet spring season when the drive can be slick. Autumn is usually the milder, dry season, bringing 30°C highs, blue skies and the bulk of tourists.

Snow can be a problem in Wollombi in the winter, however snow is very rare and only occurs 1 in every 10 years. However, it is always a good idea to check the weather and forecast before going as rain can also affect the journey.

Phone coverage[edit]

Payphones[edit]

Payphones are scattered throughout the drive, but some on the street side in some towns (particularly Wollombi and Cessnock) suffer from vandalism and may be inoperable. It might be best to try the one at your hostel or at the tourist centre. Phones are coin-operated or use prepaid phonecards, available from most supermarkets or newsagents. International calling cards are also available at these outlets.

There are also emergency phones on the drive, approximately every 10-20 km.

Mobile phone signal[edit]

Mobile phone coverage can be sketchy. The Telstra networks have a good signal within towns, becoming variable to non-existent especially on the Mangrove Mountains to Wollombi. Other networks like Optus and Vodafone are hit and miss, but those with 3G/NextG phones might have more luck.

If you intend to spend any amount between Mangrove Mountains and Wollombi or go on one of the side routes of the drive, it is very advisable to rent a satellite phone to call for emergency services should anything happen.

Spare some change?

Some places won't have a card reader. There are also very few ATMs along the way; however, they can be found in either Wollombi, Cessnock or Branxton

Get in[edit]

There are multiple starting points, depending on where you wish to begin the journey.

However, there are 3 commonly used entries on Tourist Drive 33 and these are generally the best ways. One is down south on the M1 near Calga, the second one is the B82/B68 junction at Cessnock and the third one is at the M15 near Branxston, at the very north of the drive. There are other entries too but these three are the most common ones. Once your in, just follow the Brown Tourist Drive 33 signs.

A Wallaby caught praying in Wollombi

Get around[edit]

By car[edit]

This drive can be easily achieved as long as you have a car. Distances are long, steep and without a car, it is virtually impossible to accomplish.

This route is best done in a 4WD or an SUV. Sedans and caravans can't do some of the very steep climb on the side tracks. Make sure the car your bringing is less than 10 years old, as some of these tracks erode quickly after frequent rains in this area. Some sedans and caravans are also not suitable navigating the sharp bends, especially the climb up to Wollombi. If you don't have a car, then car hire is available at the following places:

In Gosford and the Lower Central Coast at the nearest train station

  • 1 Avis Australia (Gosford), 322 Mann Street, Gosford, 2250 (This isn't exactly on Tourist Drive 33, but it's in Gosford, at the closest train station to Calga), +61243232222.
  • Thrifty Car & Truck Rental Tuggerah, 144 Pacific Hwy, Tuggerah, 2259.

In Cessnock

  • 2 Hertz Car Rental Cessnock, 1A Aberdare Rd, Cessnock, 2325, +61249912500. M-F 9am - 5pm Sa 9am - noon. Su Closed. 200 metres from the route of Tourist Drive 33.

By bus[edit]

Buses only operate from Cessnock to Branxton for non tourism purposes only. The route doesn't even go here but you'll have to go to Maitland and catch a train (Hunter Line), and which is not what you want here or are expecting.

By train[edit]

There are no trains that run directly parallel to this route and trains only stop at Branxton.

By bike[edit]

While cycling is possible, it is recommended only for those that can endure long mountainous rides while carrying camping and survival equipment. Spare at least 4 days if you wish to bike all the way and exploring the drive at the same time.

During high winds there are only a few shelters where you can rest but there are trees to at least block some of the wind. There is no separation of lanes between bicycles and cars, ride with care and provide right of way to whoever is driving faster. Helmets must be worn by Australian law and headlights must be on at all times. Make sure to have all the necessary equipment in optimal condition throughout the journey, as there are very few repair shops along the way - only in Branxton, Cessnock and Wollombi. Additionally, be prepared to do some of the windy road run up towards Wollombi. Cars often struggle up that stretch, so enjoy if you choose to bring your bike up.

Fancy a bus ride to take a break from cycling? You're on the wrong road. Buses do not operate on most of the drive; where they do run bikes may not be carried onto buses, although this is at the driver's discretion.

Go[edit]

Many visitors will wonder how much there is to see in such a short drive. The answer really depends on your interest.

Sunset and sunrise are the best times to get out and look. Not only are the temperatures cooler, but the quality of light ignites the stone with a luminous orange tone. You're also more likely to see animals that have been hiding from the midday heat venturing out to feed and all the pesty insects would not be here, early in the morning. Not only that but you also see a nice beautiful sunrise and sunset, up on the mountains. Some side routes are not possible to access if you do not have an SUV.

Hornsby to Calga[edit]

Speed limit: 110 km/h

Although, this part of the journey is not part of the official gazetted Tourist Drive 33, the journey to Calga is a nice, picturesque drive, passing the Hawkesbury River; a great camping spot or a place to explore for a day. While most people who use this drive use the M1 Pacific Motorway, you can also use the B83 Pacific Highway; a more scenic route and a route for those who want to avoid 110 km/h decently high speed roads.

Calga to Glenworth Valley[edit]

Tourist Drive 33/Calga to Glenworth Valley

Along the way:

  • 1 Calga. A small town in the Lower Central Coast, along the intersection of possibly the most confusing interchange in Australia. Also home to the Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park, which attracts visitors from both Sydney and the Central Coast. Historically, Calga was also a common walking point when walking between the Hawkesbury and the Hunter Rivers. Calga (Q21973340) on Wikidata Calga, New South Wales on Wikipedia
  • 2 Glenworth Valley. Drop in for a horse ride or go on a world first outdoor laser tag. Be aware that it can get very cold here. Glenworth Valley (Q5569497) on Wikidata Glenworth Valley, New South Wales on Wikipedia

About the road:

  • Speed Limit: 100 km/h (40-50 km/h on Cooks Road)
  • Distance: 3 km (plus a 3-km-long drive to get to Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures)
  • Road surface: asphalt (gravel for 1 km of the 3-km-long route to get to Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures and Glenworth Valley in general)
  • Roads taken Peats Ridge Road (and Cooks/Popran Road to get to Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures)

You do not have to go to Glenworth Valley, however most tourists camp for a night or two and do some of the outdoor adventures out there.

As of May 2021, there are no plans to pave the 1 km of unpaved road, as the road is not owned by the NSW government, so it is very advisable to not go in a sedan, caravan or any vehicle that is not a 4WD or an SUV. There may also be potholes on Cooks Road so again, it is very advisable to go in either a 4WD or an SUV. However Peats Ridge Road is fairly straight with few sharp bends or hairpins.

Lorikeets in Glenworth Valley, with horses in the background

Things to see or have along the way

  • 1 Glenworth Valley Horse Riding (Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures), Cooks Rd, Glenworth Valley, +61 2 4375 1222. Daily 8:30AM–5:00PM, bookings required. Closed on public holidays. Minimum $80.
  • 2 Glenworth Valley Kayaking (Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures), Popran Rd, Glenworth Valley, +61 2 4375 1222. Daily 9AM-5:30PM, bookings required. Closed on public holidays.
  • You can eat or have a coffee at the 1 Glenworth Valley cafe..
  • Glenworth Valley also has an outdoor laser tag, a world first; great if you're an outdoorsy person but also love laser lag, these will however, require bookings.

Sleep along the way

  • 1 Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures. GVOA is the only place to sleep at this point in time, and new places opening are unlikely. You can go camping, glamping, stay in a cabin, tent or tipi. Tents and tipi's can be hired there. Bookings required.

Glenworth Valley to Bucketty[edit]

Tourist Drive 33/Glenworth Valley to Bucketty

Along the way:

  • 3 Peats Ridge. Camp a day or two here. Peats Ridge (Q7158474) on Wikidata Peats Ridge, New South Wales on Wikipedia
  • 4 Mangrove Mountain. Where the Central Coast's water comes from. Mangrove Mountain (Q6749131) on Wikidata Mangrove Mountain, New South Wales on Wikipedia
  • 5 Kulnura. Pop out for a bush walk here. Kulnura (Q6443177) on Wikidata Kulnura, New South Wales on Wikipedia

About the road:

  • Speed limit: 60-100 km/h
  • Distance: 41.3 km
  • Road surface: asphalt
  • Roads taken Peats Ridge Road and George Downes Drive

The road is a narrow two lane road with only one lane paved on George Downes Drive. Parts on Peats Ridge have 2 lanes. On George Downs Drive there may be a double lane marker, but it is just a guide for other vehicles passing in the opposite direction. If there is a vehicle coming on the opposite direction; you are expected to go slightly off the paved road to let the oncoming vehicle pass by. After the oncoming vehicle has passed, there may be some dust which can block vision. Also avoid overtaking vehicles on sharp bends, black spots and hairpins.

Additionally, for those who brave the heights, take Brieses Road and Old Mooney Dam trail and explore the Mooney Mooney Dam , and for those who enjoy a nice picnic at the lake, there is the same opportunity except the fact it is the Mangrove Creek Dam Picnic Area which requires a 12.8-km drive from Kulnura, the nearest town. Avoid using this route unless you are going on a 4WD. The road may also be closed during rain or storm.

The St. Michaels Church at Wollombi

Things to see or have along the way

Along the way, it is also home to 1 Kulnura One Stop Jerry's Cafe. one of the most famous cafes in the region.

  • 1 Kulnura General Store, Greta Road. The only supermarket in the surroundings, and if your stuck, then this would most likely be your nearest supermarket.
  • 1 Mooney Mooney Dam.
  • 2 Mangrove Creek Dam Picnic Area.

Sleep along the way

  • 2 Waterfall Springs Retreat, 2394A Kyola Road, Kulnura 2250, +61243761185. Has a swimming pool and a coffee and tea maker in all rooms. Free Wi-Fi and hiking trails nearby.
  • Noonaweena, 1442 George Downes Dr, Kulnura 2250. Offers an outdoor pool and tennis courts, located on 100 acres of countryside.

Bucketty to Wollombi[edit]

Tourist Drive 33/Bucketty to Wollombi

Along the way:

  • 6 Laguna. Explore some of the scenic spots on the mountains. Home to the most lookouts on the drive. And there is no lagoon on the way, sorry. Laguna (Q14956922) on Wikidata Laguna, New South Wales on Wikipedia
  • 7 Wollombi. Camp a night or two here on one of the historic convict-built sites. Wollombi (Q3569722) on Wikidata Wollombi on Wikipedia

About the road:

A line of fire trucks near Wollombi
  • Speed limit: 60-80 km/h
  • Distance: 22.7km
  • Road surface: asphalt
  • Roads taken Great North Road

The 19th-century road built by convicts merges here. It is still a narrow two-lane road. However, the road here is not suitable for caravans and large vehicles. You can also drive take a side route and drive across the 3 Great Northern Road. towards 4 Wisemans Ferry. and 5 St. Albans..

Wollombi Endeavour Museum (formerly Courthouse) at night


Things to see along the way or at Wollombi
In Wollombi, you can also explore the Ngurra Bu; one of the historic and culturally significant Aboriginal sites. Not to worry; if you are the person who'd like to see historic churches St Michael the Archangel's Wollombi Church is a really historic, well preserved church built back when the town was founded in the 1800s.


  • 2 Ngurra Bu.
  • 3 Wollombi Valley Arts Council, 2888 Wollombi Road Wollombi NSW 2325, +61249988347, . M-Su 10am-4pm. A decently sized art gallery that displays all sorts of Aboriginal Art.
  • 4 St Michael the Archangel's Wollombi Church. Well preserved historic church

Galleries include:

    • Yengo Gallery.
    • Roadside Gallery.

Wollombi to Cessnock[edit]

Tourist Drive 33/Wollombi to Cessnock

Along the way:

  • 8 Millfield. Taste a bit of locally made wine (if you're over 18). Millfield (Q21905969) on Wikidata Millfield, New South Wales on Wikipedia
  • 9 Cessnock. Check out some of the wineries here. Cessnock (Q606357) on Wikidata Cessnock, New South Wales on Wikipedia

About the road:

  • Speed Limit: 100 km/h
  • Distance: 31.1 km
  • Road surface: asphalt
  • Roads taken Wollombi Road

The road starts to widen as this is the primary route to Wollombi for freight. Both lanes are paved. Wollombi to Cessnock is also one of only 3 ways to get out or into Wollombi. This part of the drive also passes 6 Millfield. Millfield (Q21905969) on Wikidata Millfield, New South Wales on Wikipedia; Millfield has a general store and the historic Rising Sun Inn, which now operates as a museum.

A vineyard seen in Pokolbin, alternative route to this drive.

Be aware that traffic can be a nightmare and after 1800 during the summer because of the HVG X-mas light show and during the spring holiday season. Road quality can get no better throughout the Hunter Valley. The exact opposite with Cessnock though however this is due to it commonly flooding.

Sleep along the way

Cessnock to Branxton[edit]

Tourist Drive 33 vs. B82

Many people that drive here commonly just think that they're on B82 on this section, or that TD33 terminated at Cessnock. But in actual fact, the reason to this is because it isn't well signposted, and many maps fail to include the TD33 marker for this section. Don't be surprised when locals tell you that TD33 stops at Cessnock or don't even know what Tourist Drive 33 is.

Tourist Drive 33/Cessnock to Branxton

Along the way:

  • 10 Lovedale. Explore even more wineries or check out the Hunter Valley Zoo. Lovedale (Q31397651) on Wikidata Lovedale, New South Wales on Wikipedia
  • 11 Branxton. Finish your journey (if you're driving south) here. Start your journey (if you're driving south). Also explore some wineries. Branxton (Q4957732) on Wikidata Branxton, New South Wales on Wikipedia

About the road:

  • Speed limit: 80-100 km/h
  • Distance: 20.5 km
  • Road surface: asphalt
  • Roads taken B82 Wine Country Drive,

Although this route is no longer signed at Branxton, the journey through this part is an amazing experience. Passing through this route from Lovedale to Cessnock is an unforgettable experience that most wine tasters will enjoy. Along the way is also home to one of the Hunter Valley's most famous zoos here.

Things to see along the way

  • 5 Hunter Valley Zoo, 138 Lomas Ln, Nulkaba, +612 4990 7714. Thursday-Tuesday 9AM-4PM. One of the few zoos in the Hunter Valley, with this being the most popular featuring a wide variety of Australian and exotic mammals, birds and reptiles. Hunter Valley Zoo (Q80508323) on Wikidata Hunter Valley Zoo on Wikipedia

Alternate Tourist Drive 33 (Wollombi to Lovedale via Broke and Pokolbin)[edit]

Along the way:

  • 12 Broke. Taste a bit of locally made wine (if you're over 18). Broke (Q4973261) on Wikidata Broke, New South Wales on Wikipedia
  • 13 Pokolbin. Check out some of the wineries here. Pokolbin (Q14229690) on Wikidata Pokolbin, New South Wales on Wikipedia

About the road:

  • Speed limit: 20-100 km/h
  • Road surface: asphalt and gravel
  • Roads taken: Paynes Crossing Road, Wollombi Road, Cessnock Road and Broke Road

While this route isn't marked physically, the alternate route still appears on the official tourism maps showing this side route. When going northbound, follow the signs to Singleton (until Broke, then head east - follow the signs to Branxton or Cessnock) and when southbound follow the signs to Wollombi (first follow the signs to Broke, then follow Wollombi).

This is the alternate route for those willing to go and see Pokolbin, home of the Hunter Valley Gardens - Australia's biggest display garden. Pokolbin is also home to some of the best wineries in New South Wales; hence the attraction for many.

Along the way is also home to the Hunter Jewellery School, which isn't really a school but a jewellery shop for those keen.

For those who like to go to the bar, at Broke, there is also a famous wine shop called 1813 which features an 1813 style modern pub and for those who like a wine with food, Nightingale Wines & Restaurant and Margan Wines & Restaurant which all three shops sell local wine.

Furthermore, for those who like history and wine, Hermitage Road Cellars, Winery and Hunter Wine Theatre @ Hunter Valley Resort is the place to go.

But for those who have little or no interest in wines, wineries, or gardens, go on a segway at the NSW Segway Tours or go on Hot-air ballooning at Hunter Valley Hot Air Ballooning. Unlike Sweden, Segway's aren't common in Australia - and this place is something that all Aussies can appreciate.

While most NSW road speeds are too low, this one's a bit different. The nominal speed limit is 100 km/h, driving at that speed is dangerous given the road conditions, and most people keep to 80 km/h, less in the bends and the officially recommended speed on bends is 75 km/h, which is considerably safer but still too high.

Bridges here on this road are simply made out of wood, with around the same quality a Year 10 student does for his woodwork project but even worse. Along with this, there are no rails, so you've got to be really cautious with these crossings. Bits of this road is gravel, but still with a speed limit of 80-100 km/h including on bends but it's advisable to not exceed 65km/h on bends and 70km/h in general. Bits of the road are high prone to floods including some that have been hit hard by the 2021 East Australian Flood Season. Avoid overtaking vehicles on this road as the road is only one lane both ways (i.e. both ways have to use the same lane). If an oncoming vehicle comes, slow down to 15km/h slowly pass each other and continue going at the speed limit you were going. NEVER pass a vehicle within 1km proximity to the bridges as these areas are prone to narrow bends and there are steep cliffs on edges too. To know when a bridge is coming, you'll see a "ONE LANE" sign and then you'll know it's time to slow down. You'll be able to see vehicles on the other side of the bend and vehicles that have already gone in the high-crash prone areas.

Things to see along the way

  • 6 Hunter Valley Gardens, 2090 Broke Rd, Pokolbin, +61 2 4998 4000. 9AM-5PM. Australia's biggest display garden.
  • 2 Hunter Jewellery School. which isn't really a school but a jewellery shop for those keen.
  • 2 1813, 1273a Milbrodale Rd, Broke NSW 2330, +61488127321. An 1813 style modern pub with a great green view.
  • 3 Nightingale Wines & Restaurant.
  • 4 Margan Wines & Restaurant.
  • 7 Hermitage Road Cellars, Winery and Hunter Wine Theatre @ Hunter Valley Resort.
  • 3 NSW Segway Tours.
  • 4 Hot-air ballooning, 1/26 Lodge Rd, Lovedale NSW 2325, toll-free: 1800 028 568.

Cessnock Bypass[edit]

If you're entering through westbound via B82, the traffic can be a nightmare. With poor roads in Cessnock and it being heavily flood prone, this section covers multiple ways to bypass Cessnock.

Way One:

From B82 Aberdare Road, turn right onto Quarrybylong Street. There's no clear and obvious signs so an easy way to remember this is after the pedestrian crossings and at the end of Cessnock Public School on the right. On the left, you'll be able to see some tennis courts. Once on Quarry Street, then turn left onto Victoria Street, again, there's no big sign to this so an easy way to remember is the 3rd left. At the end of the road, turn left onto B68 Maitland Road and after a while, follow B82 back again. The route isn't that long, and it takes a lot longer to play the song "My Head and My Heart" even in traffic.

Click here for a set of directions from Google Maps.

Way Two

Simply use Dufie Drive at Aberdale. Only an extra kilometre away.

Big Yango Loop Trail[edit]

Caution Note: Parts of this track have closed until further notice due to erosion. See the NSW NPWS website for more information.

About the road:

  • Speed limit: 80km/h
  • Distance: 22 km loop
  • Road surface: gravel
  • Roads taken Big Yango Loop Trail

Access to this track is via a locked gate. To enter, phone NPWS Gosford Office on +61243204203 to arrange access in advance

This 4WD track that explores Yengo National Park is a 22km track that traverses Yengo National Park; part of the greater Blue Mountains heritage area and part of the convict trail built in the early 1800s. The track is still maintained, and is one of the very few roads that remain today that were built in the 1800s.

Please note that you may only access this trail if your camping or staying at the following places:

  • 4 Big Yengo House, 7 Big Yengo Loop Trail, Yengo National Park, NSW, 2325. Check-in: 2pm, check-out: 10am. Includes picnic tables, barbecue facilities, public phone, showers, toilets and electric power. However, you will need to bring bedsheets, blankets, pillows, towels, food supplies, drinking water and cooking water. Note that this is in a very remote location so it's best to not forget anything here.
  • 5 Blue Gums Campground (How to get here can vary: 4WD vehicles are required to access this campground via 32km of unsealed roads and 2km of 4WD-only access. There are three causeway crossings; check the depths before starting to cross, as depths can vary). While the journey here may be treacherous, the result is one that you'd instantly say, "That was definitely worth it". With picturesque views, you can easily say, that drive was worth it. There aren't any toilets here so you'll have to take a piss or poo in the bush here. This is also not wheelchair accessible.
  • Mountain Arm Campground.

While accessing these places, make sure you're experienced with 4WD driving and have done at least 1000km as this includes steep uphills and sharp bends, sometimes both simultaneously.

The Wattagans[edit]

About the road:

  • Speed limit: 80km/h
  • Distance:
  • Road surface: asphalt and gravel
  • Roads taken Wattagan Creek Road

Entry to the Wattagans can be taken by taking a turn facing eastbound near Laguna onto Wattagan Creek Road. Parts of this have well maintained roads while others are for 4WD off-road driving. While for some, the journey may be difficult, some of the lookouts like Monkey Face Lookout and Narrow Place Lookout are definitely worth it. And if you like hiking, then the Great north walk, turners walking track and the circuit walking track are just for you

Mangrove Dam Trail[edit]

About the road:

  • Speed limit: 80km/h
  • Distance: 9.3km
  • Road surface: asphalt and gravel
  • Roads taken Mangrove Dam Road and Kyola Road

The entry to this route is free and can be accessed during day time. The road isn't difficult to go on, and it's well maintained as this is the one and only way to access half of the Lower Central Coast's water. It starts just north of Kulnura, but it's hard to miss the big "Mangrove Creek Dam" signs. Once you get there, you'll realise that the 4WD drive was definitely worth it.

Other tracks[edit]

Stay safe[edit]

Most of the road is paved. Just watch out for the wildlife on the road. The Telstra networks have a good signal within town, becoming variable to non-existent especially on the Mangrove Mountains to Wollombi. Other networks like Optus and Vodafone are hit and miss, but those with 3G/NextG phones might have more luck; bring a satellite phone with you - especially if you're going on the side trails.

Fill up whenever you can, especially if you choose to go through the side routes or the Mangrove Mountains. Firstly, there's no guarantee that the next fuel station has fuel available, moreover the mountainous terrain means higher fuel consumption than you might expect.

All of the route is single carriageway with a 100 km/h speed limit. Do not be tempted to speed - the police have the route well-covered and there are plenty of static cameras. When passing through towns en route, it is necessary to slow down to as little as 20 km/h and as of 2021, 1 km of what's part of TD33/Alt-TD33 is unpaved. Take care on these roads and avoid going there in February or rainy days. Always stick to the 100 km/h limit (speeding is really not welcome here), but it's advisable to go 65 km/h on this section.

Road quality in Cessnock can get really crap at times, especially after the 2021 East Australian floods, the road is badly damaged. This also includes the unofficial Cessnock bypass.

Road closures[edit]

Respect road closures, even if the road or track appears traffic-able. The road may have been closed due to being damaged or impassable much further down the road. If you proceed you may end up having to turn back or become stranded at a remote location where you shouldn't expect your cell phone to work or anybody to pass soon or even be able to U-turn. Instead, just find as comfortable a place as possible and wait for the conditions to improve and for the road to re-open, or come again another day if available. Roads are sometimes closed to prevent them becoming seriously damaged by vehicles transiting them when the surface is too soft or slippery after rain. Do not be an irresponsible person by causing damage to a road by continuing your journey.

Go next[edit]

  • Continue north and explore Tourist Drive 2/The Bucketts Way
  • Go to the Central Coast and explore some of the beaches or drive the Scenic Highway.
  • Pacific Highway
This itinerary to Tourist Drive 33 has guide status. It has good, detailed information covering the entire route. Please contribute and help us make it a star!