2 November 2011
The main access to the Tops is the Barrington Tops Forest Road, also known as the Scone-Gloucester Road, which was completed in 1978. These two towns, which anchor the road on its eastern and western ends, can provide supplies, visitor information, accommodation and meals. The journey can be made as a pleasant full-day trip or as an overnight camping adventure.
Barrington Tops can be approached from either end. The Scone side has more sealed road access, but the final unsealed ascent is very steep and winding.
The Gloucester approach has more unsealed roads through the flat rural lands, but the final ascent is more gradual.
It is worth watching out for the indistinct signpost to Thunderbolts Lookout, as there is a spectacular escarpment view after a short walk. The walk takes you through the Antarctic beech forest and snow gum glades, but beware of the knee-high stinging nettles beside the track.
A little further on is the major picnic area at Devils Hole Lookout, where there is an information board, picnic tables and toilets. The very short paved walk to the lookout is suitable for wheelchairs and prams.
The next feature is the picnic area and large camping ground at Polblue Swamp. This alpine landscape is ideal for camping with large flat spaces for setting up tents or trailers, overlooking the wide sphagnum swamp. There are pit toilets, gas and wood barbeques, picnic tables and clean creek water. Wood is scarce and cannot be collected in the national park, but state forest land is close by.
Polblue is an all-season camping area; although, in winter it can be bleak, cold and misty. The road may also be gated for days due to snow, wet weather or wind damage.
The Barrington Trail and Polblue Trail lead into a pretty campsite at Little Murray Creek. The roads are open to 4WDs in summer months, but can be walked all year round by people who want to explore into the central Barrington plateau. The walk into Little Murray and back makes a pleasant day walk from Polblue. There are some steep sections.
From Polblue, the road continues along the plateau and into a working state forest where logging trucks may be encountered. Don't miss the turn into the dark mediaeval gloom of the Firs picnic area. You should experience this landscape without daylight before you reach the Dingo Gate at the edge of the plateau. Here is a great view of the Hunter Valley, which is spread out below. You have now travelled 72km from Gloucester.
NPWS BARRINGTON TOPS AREA 59 Church St Gloucester NSW 2422 (02) 6538 5300
NPWS UPPER HUNTER AREA 137 Kelly St, Scone NSW 2337 (02) 6540 2300