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Travel guide Barrington Tops

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Gloucester and the Barrington Tops
  • Beef country of Gloucester and surrounds
  • Great bush walks abound
  • So much choice in the Barrington Tops
  • Panoramic views of the Tops
  • Beautiful Australian bush

Those who live in Sydney and surrounds are absolutely spoiled for choice when it comes to taking short breaks… there is an astonishing array of glorious beaches spreading north and south and the spectacular and majestic scenery of the Blue Mountains just to the west.  However, relatively few have discovered the rural gem that is Gloucester and the World Heritage-listed Barrington Tops – and this remnant of our timber cutting and dairy history is only a few hours away by car.

Take the efficient (but dull!) F3 to the Pacific Highway, turn off onto the bumpy (and anything but dull!) Bucketts Way north of Raymond Terrace, and you will quickly feel that you have found a pocket of Australia thought long gone.

Bucketts Way winds through towns with names reminiscent of the old country, such as Stroud … famous – or infamous! – for the annual brick-throwing competition (rolling pins are thrown by the ladies) which draws competitors from far and wide.  Stroud was Australia’s first “company town” and the main employer was the Australian Agricultural Company, which was formed in 1824 by an act of British Parliament and is still active today.  The AACo was responsible for developing much of the land around Gloucester and moving the focus from gold to grazing.  The rich alluvial flats were perfect for agriculture and the hills provided rich pasture.

While the road may be patchy in parts, the view more than makes up for its shortcomings, with a chain of emerald green gently rolling hills stretching to the wilder Barrington Tops plateau, which is part of the Great Dividing Range and home to spectacular scenery, wonderful walks and rare plants and animals. There has been settlement in the region since the cedar cutters and gold prospectors tried their luck in the early 1800s.

Gloucester is nestled in a picturesque valley at the foothills of the Bucketts Range and is known as the ‘base camp of the Barringtons’ and is a quintessential Australian country town… pub with wide verandah, showground and local show, the all-important railway station, and a history of local businesses that have remained in the same hands over the years.  However, over the last few years, Gloucester has re-invented itself and is now making the most of its proximity to Newcastle and Sydney to attract the tourist dollar and quirky artisan businesses.

The region is full of history and great stories, from the bushranger Captain Thunderbolt  (Jack Ward)  who used to lurk in the Bucketts Range to prey on the gold being transported from nearby Copeland to Sydney, to Linger and Die Hill, where legend has it that if the bullocks pulling the timber out of the valley stopped to catch their breath, they would be unable to get going again and would perish.

What to see and do
While agriculture is still at the heart of Gloucester, new businesses making the most of the lush landscape have also taken hold, such as Capparis Cheese, a family-owned holding making goats cheese that has won numerous gold and silver medals in its seven years of operation.  The cheese is sold locally and can also be found in specialist cheese shops and fine restaurants such as Pier in Sydney. Tours can be booked by arrangement on 02 6558 5557.

Gloucester has a healthy café culture, with shops such as Perenti not just serving a great cup of coffee, but also selling its own range of gourmet jams, relishes and sauces.  Be sure to visit one of the butchers in town and buy some of the amazing local beef - tender and full of flavour.

The lush countryside is perfect for exploring on horseback and there are a number of options for trail rides, a selection of winemakers in the district and Hillview Herb Farm offers garden tours, plants and products and morning and afternoon teas.  Gloucester is also a haven for artists and the local museum is a fascinating record of the history of the town.  The rivers are perfect for kayaking, and you can choose from golf, tennis, 4 wheel driving, mountain biking and more to keep you active.

When to go
The Barrington Tops are worth a visit all year round.  Summer days can certainly be hot, but the evening and clear skies usually brings welcome relief from the heat of the day … along with a stunning array of stars.  Winter can be very cold, but perfect for snuggling in front of a fire after a day enjoying the many sights and activities on offer.  Autumn and spring are probably the best time of year, with warm days and clear nights.

Where to stay
There are many accommodation options in Gloucester and surrounds, from quirky B&Bs, to farmstays and self-contained accommodation.  In many cases, your furry friend is also welcome.  Check the TakeABreak listings for the Hunter Valley and Barrington to find your perfect bolthole in this historic – and yet surprisingly modern – town.

Further information
The Gloucester Visitors Information Centre can help you find the perfect activity to keep you busy on your visit to the beautiful Barrington Tops. 02 6558 1408

Thanks to Gloucester Cottage B&B for helping to put their town “on the map”.

About the Author
Lisa Monk is a marketing communications writer with a diverse background that includes experience in travel, hotel, finance, public relations and advertising. She has worked with Club Med, the Holiday Inn group and on a number of other travel projects on a freelance basis.  Lisa has travelled throughout Asia Pacific, North America and England.

Lisa now works with TakeABreak.com.au as editor of the Holiday Inspirations newsletter and other publications.  She lives in Sydney with her husband Andy, and sons Joseph and Nicholas.

About the author
Lisa is a professional editor for Holiday Inspirations.

More accomodation in Hunter Valley & Barrington
Pokolbin | Rutherford | Mount View | Wollombi | Singleton | Rothbury | Quorrobolong | Nulkaba | Leconfield | Cessnock | Kurri Kurri | Laguna | Gloucester - Barrington Tops | Broke | Putty Valley | Dungog, Barrington Tops | Hunter Valley Wine Country | Abernethy | Luskintyre | Aberdeen | Vacy | Allyn River, Barrington Tops | Barrington Tops | Scone | Muswellbrook | Upper Hunter | Maitland | Broke Fordwich | Lovedale | Paterson-Morpeth | Bellbird | Segenhoe | Tocal | Milbrodale | Morpeth | Brunkerville | Seaham | Branxton | Carrowbrook | Denman | Lambton | Thornton | East Maitland | Bolwarra | Cooks Hill | Jesmond | Merewether | Mount Vincent | Myambat | Rathluba Ridge | Rosebrook | Telarah | The Hill | Waverly | Woodrising | Wollombi Valley | CamberwellNSW | Aberdare | Dutchies Beach | Main Creek | Monkerai | Salisbury | Cobark |

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