Barrington Tops National Park

Barrington Tops National Park, Tourism New South Wales
Barbecue Bike riding Campfire Caravan Disabled Fishing Swimming Toilets Wildlife Camping area Four-wheel drive touring Lookout Picnic area Ranger Walking


World Heritage–listed Barrington Tops National Park spans a world of contrasts, from subalpine tablelands and peaks wreathed in swirling mist, to plunging waterfalls and sun-filtered subtropical rainforests in the deep valleys. Dramatic changes in altitude and climate have created an immensely varied terrain, including high plateau areas, steep ridges and deep gorges.

This national park is a favourite with bushwalkers and those keen to enjoy its wild and scenic beauty. Access is mainly along unsealed roads and most visitors use the Dungog approach. At times of extreme weather some roads in the park may be closed or accessible by 4WD only.

Fact file


From Dungog via Chichester Dam Rd then Salisbury Rd; from Scone or Gloucester via Gloucester–Scone Rd

Best season

All year; be prepared for sudden weather changes, snow and subzero temperatures in winter


300 km north of Sydney; 40 km north-west of Dungog; 65 km east of Scone; 38 km west of Gloucester

Park information

  • NSWNPWS 1300 361 967
  • NPWS Gloucester (02) 6538 5300
  • NPWS Scone (02) 6540 2300


74 568 ha

Visitor information

Dungog (02) 4992 2212

Gloucester (02) 6558 1408

Featured Activities in the National Park

  • Take in the stunning view from Careys Peak across the Allyn Valley

    Walk in the beautiful snow gum woodlands

    See the Gloucester River drop 400 metres off the subalpine plateau

    Search with a torch at night for gliders gracefully leaping from tree to tree

See Also

A look at the past

Europeans moved into the area in the 1820s and 1830s for logging and farming and were soon clearing the forest. Within two decades the natural ecological balance had been destroyed, wildlife had dwindled and the Indigenous people were driven off their traditional lands. Although there was talk in the 1920s and 1930s of developing the area and turning the Barrington Tops into a resort, and there was ongoing discussion of logging and road building, conservationists lobbied successfully and Barrington Tops National Park was declared in 1969.

Aboriginal culture

The park occupies the traditional domain of several Aboriginal groups – the Worimi, Biripi and Wonnarua people – for whom the land held spiritual significance and also provided good hunting and bush tucker.

Natural features

Barrington Tops is a subalpine plateau between a series of extinct volcanic peaks in the Mount Royal Range. Wild rivers and ridges radiate outwards from the sloping edges of the plateau. In altitude, the park ranges from near sea level to almost 1600 metres at the highest point of the plateau, with Polblue Mountain at 1575 metres and Mount Barrington peaking at 1556 metres. The climate is equally diverse, ranging from subalpine to subtropical. More than three-quarters of the park is declared wilderness, a wonderland of rushing rivers, thundering cascades and pristine, undisturbed bush.

Native plants

The park has unusually diverse vegetation, influenced by the immense climatic range. In the upper regions are subalpine woodlands, with small stunted trees, low grasses and fragile seasonal wildflowers, swamps and moist patches of spongy moss. Eucalypts are the dominant trees at these higher altitudes, and along with the twisted forms of pink-hued snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora), there is the small to medium-sized black sally (E. stellulata), which is a particularly cold-resistant species. These two trees are frequently found close together on the high tops, and often fringing the boggy areas such as Polblue Swamp. Surrounding the swamps, and in areas too cold to support tree species, there are alpine grasslands comprising mainly snowgrass, intermingled with shrubs, and herbs such as the spiny-headed mat-rush (Lomandra longifolia), a tufted perennial with strap-like leaves and orange–brown flowers in spring. Aboriginal women used the narrow leaves for weaving baskets and fish traps.

The swamps in Barrington Tops National Park play a vital role in protecting the flow of wild and scenic rivers – a rapidly disappearing resource. Major rivers such as the Manning, Williams, Allyn, Barrington and Chichester, and a number of their tributaries, are fed by the swamps high up on the Barrington Tops plateau. The largest of these is Polblue Swamp. Bearing no resemblance to the smelly, stagnant bogs of the low country, the dominant vegetation of these high country swamps is grey–green sphagnum, a type of moss that grows in surface depressions on the plateau. Sphagnum moss (Sphagnum cristatum) forms hummocky mounds, 2 to 3 metres thick, and has the rare ability to hold many times its own weight in water. During times of wet weather it acts as a giant sponge by soaking up moisture and storing it, thereby existing as a constant source of water in all but the driest of conditions. The sphagnum slowly releases the water into the rivers and streams that flow from the plateau. Its role as a regulator of water flow is crucial as it prevents the precious high-country soils from being washed down to the valleys below.

At lower altitudes, ancient Antarctic beech (Nothofagus moorei) tower over an understorey of feathery tree ferns, and lower still are wet eucalypt forests dominated by messmate stringybark, mannagum, Sydney blue gum, tallowwood, white-topped box and brown barrel. On sheltered slopes and in gullies and deep folds of the valleys are cool temperate and subtropical rainforests – the national park marks the southern limit of World Heritage-listed rainforests in eastern Australia. In the subtropical rainforests are species such as the Australian fan palm (Livistona australis), a cabbage palm that is widely distributed through the lowland forests of the east coast, south of the Tropic of Capricorn.


The largely undisturbed natural environment at Barrington Tops creates a refuge for many animals, including the long-nosed potoroo, red-legged and red-necked pademelons and the rare parma wallaby. At night, brushtail and ringtail possums and greater gliders come out. Higher up on the plateau eastern grey kangaroos, swamp wallabies and red-necked wallabies graze in the early morning or at dusk. The grass-eating broad-toothed rat inhabits the subalpine woodlands, constructing runways under the plant matter that provide protection while it forages for food. On warmer days, watch for eastern water dragons catching the sun on rocks near the water.

The rainforest harbours numerous rainforest birds such as Lewin’s honeyeater, the flecked green catbird, the eastern whipbird with its echoing call, and the purple-breasted wompoo fruit-dove. Yellow-tailed black-cockatoos, warbling currawongs and brilliant crimson rosellas feed in the open forests. The distinctive call of bell miners can be heard in the rainforest and in gullies near rivers and creeks.


Visitors can walk in the rainforest, enjoy a picnic (there are picnic venues with tables and most have gas or wood-fired barbecues), fish in the crystalline rivers and enjoy the brilliant views. There are many fantastic vantage points from which to survey the park’s majestic forested wilderness.


In the northern section of the park there are quite a few trails suitable for mountain bikes, ranging from easy, undulating trails to steeper inclines. Cyclists are not permitted on walking tracks or on some specific trails (check with NPWS for details).


The rivers on the eastern slopes of Barrington Tops provide good trout fishing, while in the lower reaches of the Barrington, Moppy and Gloucester rivers, anglers bait for bass, catfish and mullet. A recreational fishing licence is required to fish inland waters in NSW. Contact NSW Fisheries 1300 550 474 or visit their website ( for further details. Fishing is not permitted between the June and October long weekends.

Four-wheel driving

Four-wheel driving has been severely restricted in the park, but the 15-kilometre, 4WD-only Barrington Trail, often dusted in snow, provides a challenge in the north-west section of the park. The trail is closed from 1 June­­ to 30 September and may be closed at other times due to heavy rain or snowfalls. Check with rangers for up-to-date information.


The fresh, clear waters of the creeks and waterholes are often chilly and shallow but some are suitable for swimming. Beware of slippery rocks and fast-flowing streams.


Black Swamp camping area (walk-in camping, northern section)

The 2.6 km walk to this campground along Aeroplane Hill Track from Junction Pools will take you through beautiful montane forest alive with crimson rosellas to the highest large subalpine wetland in the area (1500 m).... Find out more

Devils Hole camping area (northern section)

It’s a case of better the devil you know at this simple campground, on Barrington Tops Forest Rd, west of the Dilgry Circle Rd turn-off. With its lofty 1400 m vantage point, it’s all about the views:... Find out more

Gloucester River camping area (eastern section)

There’s a bit of everything available here, including walking tracks, swimming holes and plenty of wildlife. One of the few camping grounds in the east of the park, it lies 38 km south-west of Gloucester on... Find out more

Gummi Falls camping area (northern section)

Escape the caravanning brigade at this dry-weather, 4WD or walk-in campsite, set next to a small cascade 2.8 km along Bullock Brush Rd (via Tubrabucca Rd from the west). You’ll need to bring your own firewood,... Find out more

Horse Swamp camping area (northern section)

This secluded site is tucked away 150 m to the south of Polblue Falls picnic area and Polblue Falls walk. Access is off Tubrabucca Rd, 2.3 km north-east of Barrington Tops Forest Rd. Bring your own firewood, stove and... Find out more

Junction Pools camping area (northern section)

You’ll be spoilt for choice at this campground, off Barrington Trail, 12 km south of Barrington Tops Forest Rd. Dip a toe or a fishing line into the Barrington River, strike out on one of several nearby walking... Find out more

Little Murray camping area (northern section)

This is a dry-weather, 4WD or walk-in access campground, closed to all vehicles June–Sept. It is a pleasant and secluded campsite at the end of the road, surrounded by snow gums. You’ll find it 5 km... Find out more

Polblue camping area (northern section)

A late-afternoon or early-morning walk around the high-altitude swamp amid soaring snow gums is an experience that will remain with you long after you leave this spacious campground. It’s along Barrington Tops... Find out more

Walk-in camping areas

Scattered throughout the park are established walk-in bush campsites with no facilities. These are for self-sufficient walkers carrying good topographic maps, their own drinking water and, preferably, a gas/fuel stove.... Find out more

Wombat Creek Campground (walk-in camping, northern section)

A challenging but rewarding destination only for fit, experienced and well-prepared bushwalkers. It can be accessed via the Corker Trail (Lagoon Pinch to Careys Peak), a 20 km, 10 hr return walk; or the Link Trail... Find out more

See Also

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