On the banks of the Williams River, charming rural Dungog is near the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Barrington Tops National Park. Enjoy bushwalking and mountain bike trails, and discover intriguing heritage, tasty markets, fun festivals and campdrafting, an exciting rodeo sport invented in Australia.
Free guided tours operated by local volunteers depart from Dungog for the spectacular Barrington Tops, part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. The town is close to the challenging Rocky Crossing walk and picturesque picnic areas in the national park’s southern section.
You’ll find plenty of places to stay in and around Dungog, which is less than three hours’ drive north from Sydney and 50 minutes from Newcastle Airport. Alternatively, you can take a scenic train trip from Sydney, via Newcastle and Maitland. The quickest rail journey is about 3h 30min.
The main street in Dungog is an urban conservation area, with fascinating buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries. Visit Dungog Museum in the heritage-listed former School of Arts, erected in 1898, for insights into the town’s history and heritage, including the dairy and timber industries.
For film buffs, wander along Brown Street to the striking Spanish Mission-style façade of the James Theatre, the oldest purpose-built cinema still operating in Australia. The annual Dungog Festival on the October long weekend brings together film and music, food and wine, in a fabulous celebration.
The vibrant events calendar is brimming with much more, from markets and shows to cycling and running festivals. Taste fresh produce at the Dungog Local Growers Stall and the Clarence Town Farmers Market in Clarence Town, a short drive south and home to the 1913-built Erringhi Hotel.
At the monthly Dungog Markets browse stalls selling seasonal farm produce and jams, relishes and preserves, as well as handmade arts and crafts. A lovely drive west is enchanting rural Gresford, where the Gresford Community Markets will tempt you with local olives, oils and other delights.
With fertile soils and green pastures, farming and livestock are important. Annual agricultural shows are fun family days, with the Dungog Show in November and the Gresford Show in March. You can watch riders and their magnificent horses separate a steer from a herd in campdrafting events, too.