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Post Rally Tour

Monday 27th March – Saturday 1st April 2017


Our trip this week will take us from PORT Stephens to PORT Macquarie travelling along roads with quaint names like “Buckett’s Way” and “Thunderbolt’s Way”. Thunderbolt’s Way (see the separate story about Thunderbolt) runs from Gloucester, up through Nowendoc, crosses the New England Highway at Uralla, continues through Inverell, and eventually finishes at Goondiwindi in Queensland. We will be travelling along Buckett’s Way to Gloucester and then along part of Thunderbolt’s Way to Nowendoc. Mid-week we will explore some of Thunderbolt’s stamping grounds around Uralla before moving back to the coast at our final PORT of call.

Day One
Monday 27th March

Leaving promptly after brunch we will head to RAAF Williamtown and Fighterworld Museum. Here you can see the various fast jet aircraft that the RAAF has fought with, and against. Our group will have special access to the cockpit of the museum’s F-111 exhibit. A feature of the museum is an elevated viewing platform overlooking the airport where you can watch RAAF and commercial aircraft landing and taking off and listen to the control tower radio frequency.


Because we will have left Port Stephens with full tummies after a big brunch we have not provided for lunch today. However right beside the museum is a flyer’s café where you can purchase all kinds of food if hunger does overtake you. The café is apparently a popular alternative to the RAAF officer’s mess so you could be rubbing shoulders with pimply faced Flying Officers who have just unstrapped from a multi-million dollar fast jet.


On departing the museum we’ll head north to intersect the Pacific Highway and shortly thereafter turn onto Buckett’s Way heading for overnight accommodation at Gloucester. We will pass through picturesque Stroud on the way, a town which was established by the Australian Agricultural Company in 1824. You are encouraged to stop here where not only can you get some refreshment, but there are various heritage buildings such as Quamby House, the Court House, St John’s church. Look out for the replica timber gates at the northern end of town erected to commemorate the original town gates built in 1826 to protect the town from the threat of bushrangers, and convicts.

Finally on to our overnight location at Gloucester. This town is a pretty little place set on the Gloucester River with the spikey mountain range known as the Buccan Buccans (aboriginal), or The Bucketts, just to the west of town. After arrival at Gloucester there will be some free time for you to relax, or explore the town, walk along the river, or drive the 34 km tourist loop around the back of the Buccans. There is also a lookout east of town which next morning, if you have a photographic bent, should yield panoramic shots of the valley with the Buccans behind the town being lit by the rising sun. Tonight we’ll be staying in the Gloucester Country Lodge Motel but as we are slightly exceeding capacity here there might be a small spill-over into a very comfortable boutique motel in the centre of town.

Day Two
Tuesday 28th March


Make sure you have a full tank of fuel today. After checking out of the motel we will breakfast at Roadies Caf é in town. Roadies is created as an old time garage and they’ll be providing a full hot breakfast for us. At Gloucester we’ll say goodbye to Buckett’s Way which heads off to Taree, but we will now be driving on Thunderbolt’s Way. A few minutes up the road past Barrington we will detour off Thunderbolt’s Way a short distance to visit the now defunct Mountain Maid gold mine. This is situated in the Copeland Tops State Conservation Area in an area of “dry rainforest”. We will be escorted by National Parks guides along a walk (about 1.2km) in the forest seeing parts of the old gold workings. (Please note that closed in footwear is a requirement for this).


From Copeland our Jags will revel in the winding roads through beautiful hill country until we cross the headwaters of the Manning River and make the climb up onto the New England Plateau. Lunch will be taken at the hamlet of Nowendoc, the centre of the massive police search in 2012 for the modern day ‘bushranger’ Malcolm Naden; now serving at Her Majesty’s pleasure (see the side-story about the modern day Thunderbolt). The friendly ladies of the local women’s auxiliary will be feeding us in their beautifully kept local hall which was “police central’ during the Naden manhunt.


From Nowendoc we will proceed up Thunderbolt’s Way for around 24km before turning off towards Tamworth. We’ll drop off the New England Plateau in a steep descent down “Port Stephens Cutting” to the Dungowan valley. Don’t ask why it was named thus because is it nowhere near Port Stephens, but it does give us a third PORT on our route. We then follow the Dungowan River to work our way to Tamworth and our accommodation at the QH Powerhouse Hotel.


Day Three
Wednesday 29th March


After breakfast today we travel north up the New England Highway to the delightful and historic town of Uralla. Uralla was prime Thunderbolt country and there are many and various items around town that relate to him. We will visit McCrossin’s Flour Mill which is now a museum of agricultural, bushranging and other quirky artefacts. Morning tea is in the Mill’s beautiful garden.


For the late morning you are free to wander around Uralla visiting attractions like the Foundry, the Blue Trail Garage, the Wool Room, the Brewery, Thunderbolt’s grave. There is some controversy in the district over whether Thunderbolt is actually buried in this grave; and some question whether there is even a body buried there at all – but it all adds to the mystery of the man.


Departing Uralla heading south we will stop for a short time at Thunderbolt’s Rock for group photos before continuing to lunch at Restaurant Pinot at Dobson’s Distillery, Kentucky (not Kentucky, USA; Kentucky NSW; a slightly smaller place) After lunch we’ll have a chance to tour the distillery and those who wish to can participate in tasting their award winning gins.

Finally it is back to our Tamworth accommodation via either of two routes – your choice, but we recommend the scenic route through Walcha Road. Dinner that evening will be at “The Pub” in Tamworth, but on the way there we’ll pay a visit to the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame.

Day Four
Thursday 30th March

Jaguars love long drives on sweeping roads – today that is what is offered. Make sure you have a full tank of fuel again. We’ll leave Tamworth driving back up the New England Highway as far as Bendemeer then turn off on the Oxley Highway towards Walcha. At Walcha there is the opportunity to break, refresh, relax and pick up a coffee hit if you need one. Then we’ll be heading east stopping 20km further down the road at Apsley Falls. These are quite spectacular, especially when there is plenty of water flowing. Your tour leaders have requisitioned a full display of water for our visit although our organising powers are not completely omnipotent when it comes to nature.


After Apsley Falls we motor further east with magnificent pastoral views before dropping off the New England Plateau again. At the foot of this descent is Mount Seaview and here we will lunch at the Mount Seaview Resort, set in an idyllic location a couple of kilometres off the Oxley Highway. Finally it’s on to PORT Macquarie and our accommodation for two nights at the Waters Edge Hotel.

We’ll arrive into PORT with a couple of hours spare for free time to rest up after our long drive or to explore the foreshore and CBD of the city. Dinner tonight will be at the up-market Mekong Thai-Lao where we will be taking over the entire restaurant.

Day Five
Friday 31st March


Today kicks off after breakfast with a visit to the Koala Hospital just the other side of town where we will be treated to a special tour and presentation of our own. The hospital is run as a charity. Then we’ll park back at the hotel again before a short walk to the dock for our two-hour charter cruise on the Hastings River with morning tea and a fish & chips lunch on the “River Princess”.


In the afternoon we drive to the Billabong Zoo which features a large walk-though marsupial area, red pandas, crocodile, penguins, koalas, and other animals. Quite uniquely for a zoo of this size they also house a pair of cheetah and a pair of snow leopards. The zoo is hoping to acquire lions in the near future. Afternoon tea will be provided at the zoo. Of interest to Jaguar drivers however is the owner is a Jaguar fan and he will have his stable of cars out for our viewing pleasure, and we hope he will also enjoy seeing our visiting cars.


We will then return to Waters Edge for our farewell dinner in the function room at the hotel.

Day Six
Saturday 1st April

Sadly today will be time to bid our travelling companions farewell and to wish each one a safe onward journey at the conclusion of our 2017 Post Rally Tour. Before that final farewell however we’ll travel to the other side of the Hastings River to Ricardoes Tomato and Strawberry Farm where you can pick your own strawberries and stock up on tomatoes to take home with you. Finally moving back south of the river we’ll stop at Cassegrain’s Vineyards for some cellar door activity and a light pre-departure lunch at their restaurant.

We look forward to welcoming you on our six days of Jaguar adventure next year.


Post Rally Tour Directors
Rob and Marg Cranna
Phone: (02) 9481 7824
Mobile: 0418 287 018
Email: -

Captain Thunderbolt

Frederick Wordsworth Ward, better known as notorious bushranger ‘Captain Thunderbolt’, plundered northern New South Wales for over six years during one of the longest ‘careers’ in Australian bushranging history.

Fred was born in the Windsor district of New South Wales during the mid-1830s. His family later moved north to the Maitland district, where in 1853, he began working at the famous ‘Tocal’ horse stud as a horse-breaker and stock hand.
In 1856, close relative, John Garbutt, became the ringleader of a large horse and cattle stealing operation, and enticed other members of the extended Ward family to join him. Fred helped drive some four dozen of the stolen horses (many from Tocal) to Windsor. Fred was subsequently arrested and found guilty of “receiving” stolen horses. He was sentenced to 10 years hard labour at Sydney’s infamous Cockatoo Island prison.

After four years in prison, he was released on a “ticket-of-leave" to the Mudgee district. Here he met a young woman named Mary Ann Bugg, the daughter of a convict shepherd and his Aboriginal wife. Mary Ann fell pregnant to Fred who took her to her father’s farm near Dungog for the baby's birth. After leaving her with her family, he galloped back to Mudgee on a borrowed horse, but was late for his muster. As a result, he was returned to Cockatoo Island to complete his original sentence with an additional three years added for riding a ‘stolen’ horse.

In September 1863, Fred and a companion, Frederick Britten, swam to freedom through Sydney Harbour’s shark-infested waters. The pair made their way north where, later in October, they were spotted by police near the Big Rock (now Thunderbolt’s Rock), south of Uralla. A gun battle ensued, with Fred being shot in the left knee before making his escape into a nearby swamp. The two fugitives soon separated with Fred travelling south to the Maitland district. In December 1863, he robbed a toll-bar NEAR Maitland. He pounded on the wall of the office demanding the toll money – the sound was like that of a thunderbolt.

Soon afterwards, Fred collected Mary Ann and they headed for the lawless north-western plains where they remained quiet until early 1865. Fred then formed his first gang when he joined forces with three other men, launching a bushranging spree that ended when one of the gang members was shot at Millie in April 1865.

Later in 1865, Fred formed a second gang with two new accomplices and began another bushranging spree. At Carroll in December 1865, a police trooper was shot and injured by one of the gang members during a shootout. The gang separated in January 1866.

Fred returned to Mary Ann, taking her back to the Gloucester district where they hid out in the isolated mountains. In March 1866, Mary Ann was captured by police and imprisoned on vagrancy charges, but was released after a Parliamentary outcry. Fred resumed bushranging activities in 1867 after Mary Ann was again captured by the police and imprisoned.

After acquiring a young apprentice, Thomas Mason, Fred was active again, robbing mails, inns and stores in the Tamworth and New England districts. Mason was captured by police in September 1867. In 1868, Fred took on new apprentice William Monckton and picked up where he had left off. They separated in December of that year and, a few weeks later, Monckton was also captured by police.

During the following year-and-a-half, Fred ventured out on only half-a-dozen occasions. He was shot and killed at Kentucky Creek, near Uralla, on 25 May 1870 by Constable Alexander Binning Walker. He now (allegedly) lays at rest in the Uralla Pioneer Cemetery, where his headstone has become a popular attraction for visitors.

The Modern Thunderbolt

-(With acknowledgement to the Daily Telegraph, 13th January 2016) (Photo with acknowledgement to AAP. NSW Police Media)

The story of Malcolm Naden captivated Australia and made international headlines when, in 2012 and after eight years on the run, NSW Police made a breakthrough in the hunt for the nation’s most wanted man. Naden, wanted at the time on murder and indecent assault charges, was finally brought down by police dog Chuck and his handler Senior Constable Luke Warburton after midnight on March 22, 2012. His arrest brought closure to a sustained four-month effort to track him down following the shooting of an officer hunting him through Nowendoc.

Three officers with a tactical dog had been tracking Naden through the Nowendoc region on December 7, 2011, when they unknowingly wandered within 15metres of his position. The now 42-year-old told police after his arrest months later he had been watching police from bushes through the scope of his rifle when he selected the closest officer, Brad McFadden, as his victim. Naden told police he aimed for Mr McFadden’s heart but hit only his shoulder when the officer moved as he pulled the trigger. Luckily, Mr McFadden survived and, miraculously, returned to the hunt for Naden ahead of his capture.

That clash with the violent fugitive led NSW Police to a huge pooling of resources that eventually saw Naden arrested in rugged bushland west of Gloucester. Before 2012 though, the search for Naden had drawn on for eight years and leads on his whereabouts were rare. Naden vanished from Dubbo in 2005 after being linked to the 2004 indecent assault of a young girl and later murder of 24-year-old Kristy Scholes. Naden was also wanted in relation to the disappearance of his cousin Lateesha Nolan, who to date has never been found.

A year after going underground Naden was spotted on the grounds of Dubbo’s Western Plains Zoo. The whole tourist park was closed down by police in a bid to take Naden into custody but he evaded capture and vanished without a trace once more. After two years of fruitless investigations by police a $50,000 reward was offered for information leading to his arrest.

Four years later in February 2011, and still without a result, police upped the bounty to $100,000. It was in December of 2011 that Naden took aim at police and his days on the run became numbered.

Interviews with police following his arrest painted a picture of Naden’s time in the bush.

Investigators realised the man they’d been hunting wasn’t the skilled bushman they had believed; rather he’d simply ‘wandered’ and broken into any remote properties he came across to steal weapons and gorge himself on food to the point of vomiting.

He eventually pleaded guilty to the murders of Kristy Scholes and Lateesha Nolan, despite Ms Nolan’s body never being found. Naden was sentenced in 2013 to life without parole for the murders of Kristy Scholes and Lateesha Nolan, the indecent assault of the young girl and attempted murder of Mr McFadden.