10 adventures on the Barrington Coast
From the sublime rainforests of Barrington Tops to divine stretches of beach and peaceful winding waterways, the Barrington Coast offers some spectacular settings for action and adventure.
Mountain bike through the rainforest
There’s nothing quite like the exhilaration of mountain biking down a rainforest-clad hillside, the tangle of greenery glistening as you hurtle through the cool air. You’ll experience that, and more, at Barrington Bike Park near Gloucester, where you can tackle purpose-built trails amid some stunning wild country. There are black, blue and green trails for different skill levels, offering a mixture of flow, climb and tech experiences. And here, your mountain biking comes with views – all the way across to the magnificent Barrington Tops National Park.
Gear up for adventure
You’ve got to have the tools for the job if you’re heading off in search of action, and Harrington Adventure Hire can kit you out with whatever you need on land or water. Explore the Manning River, Crowdy Head Beach or the lagoon right outside the shop on a stand-up paddleboard, kayak, windsurfer or surfboard. Or grab a mountain bike and hit the bush trail that runs through the back of Harrington. The crew also run tours, such as the Waitui Falls Mountain Bike Experience, combining a waterfall swim, dirt-road ride and a bite to eat.
Watch whales in style
Yearning to experience the thrill of seeing humpback whales joyously throwing their 40 tonnes of bodyweight around, close enough that you might feel the splash? Then getting a good vantage point is paramount. Join Amaroo Cruises on a whale-watching tour from Forster (June to October), and you’ll find yourself aboard the Amaroo, a 24-metre purpose-built catamaran which features three viewing decks, huge windows and 360-degree views, plus on-board marine naturalists to interpret the action.
Paddle in peace
Tea Gardens, at the mouth of the Myall River, is the perfect starting point for exploring some of the Barrington Coast’s serene local waterways, and there’s no better way to soak it all up than on a kayak. Join a leisurely two-hour Myall River Discovery Tour with Lazy Paddles and do your best to spot dolphins frolicking in the water and sea eagles soaring overhead. Or head out on a half-day Myall Lakes Escape Tour to immerse yourself in the lakes, mountains and forests of Myall Lakes National Park. A self-guided multi-day adventure more your thing? You can hire kayaks and stay at a campsite that’s only accessible by boat. And you’re more than likely to have the place all to yourself.
Take it to the Tops
Don’t forget to pack your walking boots or a sturdy pair of shoes when you head to the Barrington Coast: its mountains, rainforests and wild coastline are made for trekking. The Gloucester Tops Circuit combines three walks in World Heritage-listed Barrington Tops National Park, and takes in waterfalls, snow gum woods, Antarctic beech forest, Gondwana rainforest and unforgettable views. It’s a grade 4, 8km loop offering three to five hours of connection with spectacular natural beauty.
Fly-fish for trout
Head up to the cool, clean rivers of Barrington Tops and learn how to fly fish with Capt Baldy Fly Fishing. Over two days, the Capt (aka Craig Somerville), will teach you how to tie knots, attach flies and cast as you go in search of rainbow and brown trout, silver perch and Australian bass. Stay in the ‘Captain’s Cabin’, perched on a beautiful patch of riverfront, with kangaroos at the door and air-conditioning or a wood fire to keep you comfortable inside. Somerville provides all the gear and food, and takes you on a visit to a local boutique vineyard, Gloucester River Wines, where you get to sample the wine and food for a minimal fee.
Find your wavelength
Some of NSW’s most stunning beaches can be found on the Barrington Coast. The thrill of jumping on a board and surfing in surroundings like these is hard to beat, so sign up for a lesson with Great Lakes Surf School and discover your inner Mick Fanning or Layne Beachley. Private and group lessons are available for beginner, intermediate and advanced surfers at locations including Seal Rocks, Pacific Palms and Hallidays Point (depending on conditions). You’ll learn ocean awareness and surf etiquette, too.
Dive with sharks
Encountering nature at her most raw is guaranteed to make your spirits soar – and your adrenaline pump. Forster is home to one of the biggest grey nurse shark populations in the world – and you don’t need any scuba experience to jump in the water with them – although nerves of steel help. On a Discover Scuba Diving experience with Forster Dive Centre, you can walk into the store, take a 20-minute briefing, then head out to take an introductory dive with up to 40 of these incredible creatures. The centre also runs PADI courses, boat and shore dives for licensed divers, and dives for people with disabilities.
Get sky high
There’s nothing that gets your heart pumping quite as fast as jumping out of a plane. But when you do it from the Skydiving NSW Drop Zone at Taree airport, you’ll also get a good dose of serenity, too, as you ascend to 14,000 feet while taking in the bird’s-eye view of the coast, mountains and spectacular river systems of the Manning Valley. Steel yourself for the moment you tumble out of the door (strapped to an instructor), feel the exhilaration of 60 seconds of freefall, then, after the canopy has opened, soak up the peace and quiet – and those spectacular views again – as you float gently to earth.
Swing by Forster-Tuncurry
Why settle for one round of golf when you can play two? At Forster Tuncurry Golf Club, you’ll find two courses, two clubhouses, and challenges for golfers of all abilities. You could start by playing the friendly par-66 Forster course, with its ocean breezes, then, the next day, tackle the more challenging, undulating, par-72 Tuncurry championship course. You’ll hear the sound of the ocean on both fairways, and you’ll be rewarded with sweeping course and ocean views as you dissect your round shot by shot – with a feed and a cool beverage – at on-site Buko’s Bistro.