Gloucester & Bretti Reserve
We had to leave the Armidale showground at the end of February because the show was coming. We had been in Armidale for about a month by then, so decided to head a bit further south.
We had an idea of the direction, but no idea where we would eventually stay. Our first choice was to stay near a community hall in what we thought was a small town but ended up being a pub and not much else. Only about an hour further along we came across Bretti Reserve, a beautiful camp site situated on the flats between two rivers. Bretti Reserve is about 35Km from Gloucester. The strong selling point is that it’s a free camp site with plenty of space. There are new eco toilets, rubbish collection and occasionally young cattle.
Bretti Reserve is also a great location to be based that allows easy access to Barrington Tops NP which is also part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. There is also Woko NP and Copeland Tops State Reserve nearby to explore as well.
The locals accepted us and sent a delegation (the kids) around to welcome us to their home. In fact they would often drop by late at night for a drink where they would empty our buckets of rain water that we were collecting.
Gloucester is a lovely country town with all of the necessities. It’s about 100m above sea level and certainly not as cold as Armidale was getting to be. It’s possible from Gloucester to include The Hunter region into a day drive, but we prefer to be a bit closer to the target so that there is less driving and more walking to enjoy the area.
From Bretti (pronounced Brett-eye) we ventured as far south as Dungog and Stroud, as far east as the coast from Taree to Myall Lake, and as far west as the top of Barrington Tops NP.
Stunning, amazing, beautiful.
There are plenty of walking trails to be enjoyed here, from 400m to 20km. We aren’t equipped either physically or gear wise to do the full day treks. A lot of that has to do with my dawdling. When we do a 1.5km walk, the brochures estimate 1 to 2 hours. By the time I’ve stopped to take pictures of leaves, bits of bark, flowers, waterfalls etc the time seems to just slip away. So a full day for Annie and I might include 2 short walks plus a lookout or 2. A 4 to 5km walk is good for us.
Barrington Tops is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. It is also one of NSW oldest national parks. Being relatively close to Sydney it has high visitor rates but has very basic amenities. The road up is in reasonable condition, but on one of the days we visited there was rain and the road became quite slippery. Speaking of rain beware of leeches when walking through these forests after or during rain. We have been blooded a few times now.
Woko NP has a beautiful camping area next to the Manning River. One of the walks was closed due to storm damage and the other we attempted wasn’t completed as the track was blocked by fallen trees.
Copeland Tops is a State Conservation Area due to the historic gold mining sites within. The brochures and signs for the area advises staying on the designated tracks as there are deep holes, shafts and tunnels throughout the area. We came across a small sign at the base of a large tree that identified it as a Giant Stinging Tree. So far during our visits to the NSW National Parks we haven’t come across Yowies or Giants (stung or otherwise) and we hope not to. What has happened for us and now on 2 occasions is that we have heard a tree fall in the forest. The first time was in Tasmania in The Tarkine region, and now Barrington Tops. It’s difficult to describe the emotions when this happens for us. Annie and I do more listening than talking when we do these walks. So to have only the sounds of the forest and then suddenly and almighty crack and then the crashing of a huge tree starting a new phase in the life of a prehistoric forest is simply???
Our day out visiting Tuncurry, Forster, and the Myall Lake area wasn’t very exciting as it was more of a reconnaissance drive to look for likely camp areas in the future. We did have one moment of excitement when sitting on the beach listening to and watching the ocean, a very fast fighter jet came over the top of us at a low altitude and quite close. It must be so much fun flying one of those things and getting paid to do it.
We had a nice day out visiting those 2 lovely little towns.
Stroud is a beautiful town in the Karuah Valley that was originally founded by the Australian Agricultural Company in 1824. The AAC still trades on the Aust Stock Exchange by the way.
There are over 30 heritage buildings in Stroud and it’s definitely worth a visit. There is a heritage trail and a map is included on the free Great Lakes Region Cartoscope map. We frequently use the Cartoscope maps because they seem to give lots of extra detail to the area it is covering.
Anyway we spent a couple of hours wandering around the town checking out the old buildings, going inside where possible and of course found a coffee shop.
Like Stroud, Dungog is filled with lovely old buildings, is much bigger than Stroud, and again is definitely worth a visit. This is an area we will come back to but possibly after we find somewhere in The Hunter to camp. To really take in Dungog is a full day on its own so we did a bit of a drive by tour of the town and put it on the list of “must come back here someday” places.
So that’s it. We have had a month at Bretti, and enjoyed exploring the area, and relaxing by the river. Gloucester is a very friendly town and an excellent area to explore Barrington Tops and other places from. Like so many other country areas, we’ve had some great experiences here and seen things about Australia that can only be seen outside the cities. This weekend is the show, so we will have a day at a country show and then head for Wingham where we will stay at the showground. The intent is to do some exploring from there to find a camp on the beach.
Until next time