It’s funny how a few days in the bush can have you feeling like a new man. All the stress of day-to-day life can take its toll on even the best of us after a while, yet, for some reason, we let it get in the way of our adventures all too often. Those feelings of frustration are exactly what prompted this spur of the moment getaway for me. Sure, the work was piling up, but every now and then, you’ve got to know when to say, “oh the hell with it”, right?
Choosing where to go wasn’t all that hard because, to be totally honest, I’ve been absolutely hanging to check out the Barrington/Gloucester Tops area properly since a brief overnight stay a few years back. And I’ll tell you what – I’m bloody stoked I did, because this place of full of surprises that’ll leave you with a grin from ear to ear! What’s so good about this place you ask? Well, it’s not the spectacular scenic vistas that are spread throughout the entire area. It’s not the pristine waters that trickle their way down the mountain. It’s not even the assortment of premium campsites available. It’s the fact that all this is combined into one hell of a relaxing place! Seriously, I reckon this place leaves you feeling that relaxed it’d put counsellors, doctors and youth workers out of a job if the secret ever got out.
Barrington Tops National Park is a World Heritage-listed park that’s jam-packed full of hiking tracks and scenic vistas, with everything from rainforest in the valleys to a sub-alpine climate at the top. For the hikers, the Aeroplane Hill Walking Track is at the top of the list. At an altitude of 1500m, this track gives you a glimpse of life high up in the hills. It takes in the sights of Careys Peak Lookout, while snow and mountain gums lay testament to the sub-alpine terrain. Another cracking track is the Gloucester Falls walking track, which as the name suggests offers waterfall views when the rivers are running, plus a maze of other scenic sights as well. The best part about these tracks is they’re not big multi-day hikes that you have to train 12 months in advance for. Nope, they’re quite easily accessible for anyone of moderate fitness and only take around an hour or two
But if walking sounds like as much fun as getting a tooth pulled out, there’s plenty of relaxation to be had back at camp. We really are spoilt for choice with campsites around here. Seriously, the hardest part is choosing the right one. For me, I just couldn’t drive past Polblue Camping Area. Being set up high in sub-alpine woodland, it’s just one of those spots that’ll light up your eyes on approach. It’s a fairly well-known and well-used spot, especially on weekends, but there’s plenty of room to set up everything and spread out without having to listen to old mate next door snoring all night. Plus, it’s away from the road so it’s great for the kids.
Not far from camp is the Thunderbolts Lookout, which is a must-do in my opinion. It’s about a 10-minute walk until you hit the lookout itself, but the walk is actually half the fun. It’s got a real High Country feel to the place with some awesome looking flora to take in and a well-carved track. The lookout is nothing short of utterly spectacular. It’s the sort of place you can literally sit down, relax and take in for hours and hours on end.
Over Gloucester Tops NP way, there’s a great little campsite called Gloucester River Campground. It’s a beaut spot for a quick dip to cool down, and you’ll find there’s a few old historical relics spread around the grounds to have a geez at too. There are also a few good walking tracks heading out straight from camp, and no shortage of wildlife to listen to either. Brush-turkeys and lyrebirds call this place home, and those lyrebirds have learnt a whole heap of cool sounds from around the area. What sort of sounds? Well, imagine hearing a chainsaw going off at about 1am right next to camp. Yep, that happened, and it scared the kahunas out of me.
If you’re planning to visit this region, remember to take the climate into account. You’ll climb to fairly high altitudes quickly where that sub-alpine feeling really kicks in. With a record low temperature of -17°C, the winter chill kicks in pretty bloody hard here. We’re talking fog, snow, and track closures – the works! In fact, the altitude and frequent fog has wreaked absolute havoc for pilots of aircraft over the years with a heap of plane crashes in the area being put down to the harsh conditions of the area.
Well that’s another absolutely cracking trip done and dusted for me and, as usual, it wasn’t long enough. But, like I said from the start, a trip to Barrington Tops will have you feeling like brand new in a jiffy. The worst part about this place is you won’t want to go home! So be warned: there’s a good chance you’ll want to quit your day job and hit the road full-time after this one!
The entrance to Barrington Tops NP is 325km from Sydney.
There are six camper trailer-friendly campgrounds within Barrington Tops NP, the largest two being Polblue and Gloucester River. Visit www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au for more information.
Check out the full feature in issue #100 May 2016 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.