The beautiful Barrington Tops is a marvellous destination, with ancient rainforest, outdoor adventure, intriguing heritage, vineyards and pastures, tasty markets and fun festivals. You’ll discover rural charm and country hospitality in riverside towns such as Dungog and Gloucester.
The Barrington Tops National Park is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. Volcanic flows aeons ago shaped this incredible wilderness, a bushwalking jewel with walking trails through moss-covered Antarctic beech to enchanting waterfalls and mesmerising lookouts.
You’ll find pretty picnic and camping areas in the Barrington Tops as well as north in the rugged Woko National Park, where you can pitch a tent by a river. Fishing is popular in the rivers between October and May, and there are fun adventure tours for kayaking, abseiling and mountain biking.
The magnificent region is near the Hunter Valley and the Upper Hunter, and only a few hours’ drive north from Sydney and much less time from Newcastle and Port Stephens. Trains stop at Paterson, Dungog and Gloucester. You can also fly into Newcastle Airport for the 50 minutes’ drive to Dungog.
Accommodation options range from camping and caravanning to country pubs, cottages, farm stays, motels and secluded retreats. The scenic drive between Dungog in the south and Gloucester in the north is only an hour. Both charming towns are great bases for exploring the region’s natural beauty.
The colonial heritage is fascinating, too. Captain Thunderbolt, known as the gentleman’s bushranger, hid in the mountain ranges near Gloucester. Gold fever struck the district in 1876, and you can find out more about the gold rush on the Copeland Historic Gold Mine Tour of the Mountain Maid mine.
Dungog’s main street is an urban conservation area, with architectural gems from the 19th and 20th centuries. The Dungog Museum is in the heritage-listed former School of Arts, erected in 1898. The Spanish Mission-style James Theatre is the oldest purpose-built cinema still operating in Australia.
The verdant countryside around the towns sustains livestock, vegetable farms, vineyards and olive groves. Enjoy wine tasting at cellar doors and browse vibrant markets. Check out the events calendar, too, for exciting rodeos, country shows and fun festivals such as the Dungog Festival.