We walk among Antarctic Beech trees and around an old goldmine site which is being reclaimed by the rainforest.
Gloucester is the gateway to the Barrington High Tops National Park, which like Springbrook and the Border Ranges is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia. Although we would have preferred to camp in the national park, the forecast of inclement weather and need to charge the car meant we opted for the caravan park in the town of Gloucester. Plus, flood damage that occurred in March resulted in the indefinite closure of the Barrington Tops Forest Road, which meant a lot of the campsites were not accessible.
Since rain was forecast for our first afternoon there, we decided to visit Gloucester Tops (in the Barrington Tops NP) as soon as we could. We departed Gloucester, altitude ~100 m, where the temperature was 12°C. The drive included many kms of unsealed road, and six fords crossing the Gloucester River. The last 18 km of road up to the Tops was poorly maintained, very rough and slow going. The low winter sun casting strips of shadows across the road made the drive even more challenging, but we arrived safely at Gloucester tops, altitude ~900 m, where the temperature was a chilly 5°C.
We were keen to do a hike to see Antarctic Beech trees there. We had seen some very old examples of these beech trees at their northern limit in Springbrook. The Barrington Tops is the southern limit of their distribution. The ancient Gondwana linkage means these trees have close relatives in southern South America.
Due to the looming rain, we fortunately chose the shorter of two walks. Rain started falling as we reached the end of the walk. We were concerned that river levels might rise, making the return crossings of the river hazardous.
In the cold and wet afternoon we checked out the only open local winery, Gloucester River Wines. Instead of wine tasting in their shed, the owner kindly invited us into their home to sit by the fire where it was cosy, warm and dry. We spent a lovely couple of hours chatting and tasting their organic wines.
Another splendid walk near Gloucester is the Hidden Treasure Track which goes to the site of an old gold mine that was active in the mid to late 1800s.
The recovery of the rainforest in the areas that were once cleared for the mine is amazing.
Having avoided some heavy rain that fell at the coast during our time in Gloucester, we travelled towards the coast again, as heavy rain was now forecast for Gloucester. Our route to the Myall Lakes area took us along the scenic Bucketts Way and we stopped in the pretty town of Dungog for morning tea.
See our trips page for a list of posts and map of our journey.
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