Situated just 3 hours North West of Sydney, Barrington Tops is an explorer’s paradise. Suitable as a weekend getaway or a longer escape, the park offers something for every type of outdoor enthusiast: Camping, Hiking, 4WDing, Swimming, Fishing, Star-gazing and Barbecuing just to name a few. If you are planning to visit Barrington Tops National Park, this camping and 4wd guide will help you plan your trip and get the most out of your adventures.
Barrington Tops National Park at a Glance
Where is Barrington Tops National Park?
Barrington Tops National Park is situated in central-eastern NSW, approx 110km north of New Castle or 260km north of Sydney.
Best time of year to visit
Spring is the best time to visit. This is when wildflowers are in full bloom and is a visual treat along most hiking trails in the park. Come prepared as the local weather is known to be unpredictable.
Length of Stay
It is possible to explore all the major attractions in the park in one day. However, is you have more time, an overnighter is highly recommended.
- Picnic / Barbecuing
Getting to Barrington Tops National Park
From Gloucester (from the East)
Head south on The Bucketts Way, which turns into Scones Rd. When you reach the end of the paved rd, turn right onto the unpaved Barrington Tops Forrest Rd which runs east to west throughout the park.
Take the M1 (Pacific Hwy) in North Sydney and drive for 290km until you reach Nabiac. Turn left off the M1 and head east towards Gloucester. In approx 55km, you will reach Gloucester.
Head north along the A1 until you reach Nabiac. When you reach Nabiac, turn left off the M1 and head towards Gloucester. In approx 55km, you will reach Gloucester.
A 4WD definitely not needed to access the best the park has to offer. While all the main roads running through the park are unpaved, they can undoubtedly be traversed in a 2WD. These are also classed as public roads and suitable for hire cars.
Access to some off the beaten path gems does require an appropriate and well-prepared vehicle. Smaller tracks and trails are not well maintained. An all-wheel-drive or 4wd is strongly recommended for exploring these more adventurous trails.
Mountain Maid Gold Mine
The Mountain Maid Gold Mine is one destination that comes highly recommended by Rhonda Blackwell, a community member who lives locally and frequently visits the park. Copeland Goldfield and this mine in particular remains a portal into the past and an excellent spot for the family to uncover hidden treasures. Rhonda fondly recalls finding a gold nugget attached to a small piece of quartz that she now wears around her neck, and estimates to be valued at $460. She also tells a story of how a small child found a massive nugget while he was playing downstream with his family around seven years ago. It becomes easy to see just why our ancestors caught the gold rush fever those many years ago. Panning for gold makes for great fun, just watch out for the leaches when panning in the creek.
“It didn’t take long to persuade my hubby to bring us back with some gold panning gear! Awesome fun…”
— Rhonda Blackwell
1876: Alluvial gold was first discovered in Copeland Creek by a fella named Saxby.
1876: Mountain Maid Reef discovered. Gold mines started to multiply throughout the region, now referred to as Copeland Goldfields. Miners began pouring into the region, and the nearby town of Copeland quickly reached a population of 1,100.
1875-1900: During the last 25 years of the 19th century, around 70 mines were in operation around Copeland.
1900-1930: Most to the mines closed during this period which caused Copeland’s population to dwindle. Once the miners left, buildings were left to nature and quickly vanished over time. Since the first discovery, 11 tons of gold has been produced from this region, which is worth approx $460million AUD as of Feb 2022.
2003: Mountain Maid Gold Mine is the last remaining mine in the Copeland goldfields. In 2003, this mine transition under the stewardship of NSW’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife.
2007 – 2010: During this period, the mine was closed for renovations. Post renovations, it was re-opened to the public in 2010.
Since the renovation, this site features 3 trails. The Hidden Treasures walk (4.5km), and the Basin Loop Trail (7km) are both self-guided. Winding through the lush rain forest in the valley of the Copeland Creek, these trails are clearly signed and feature well maintained walkways and viewing platforms. The Mountain Maid Link Trail is a guided tour, which includes the underground tour into the mine where quartz containing gold can be seen. A wooden walkway extends hundreds of meters into the mountain. The mine extends some 395m into the hillside and to a depth of 180m.
Access: Heritage precinct, at Copeland Tops State Conservation Area. Turn off Copeland Road. GPS Coordinates: 31.97852S, 151.82568E
For guided tours, bookings area essentials via NPWS website: nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/guided-tours/mountain-maid-gold-mine-tour
You can take the challenging walk up to Thunderbolt’s Lookout which starts from Nomads Picnic area. The last part of the walk is quite a challenging climb up large rock formations. Once at the top the 360-degree panoramic views are breathtaking and a great reward for your hard work. On the way back down you can relax and have lunch amongst the shady trees of Nomads Picnic area.
Ladies Well is located on the Upper Allyn River near the southern entrance to Chichester State Forest, at the foot of Barrington Tops National Park.
It’s a stunning spot to unwind and take in the magnificent scenery. A great spot to perch upon the rocks and watch the water cascade down into the pool below. Granite rocks that support the cascade are perfect diving platforms surrounding the waterhole. If you prefer a slower pace, take a dip in its crisp river waters, then unpack a picnic and enjoy the lush forest surroundings.
Ladies Well – Chichester State Park, at the southern edge of Barrington Tops National Park.
- Scenic & Photogenic
- Swimming / Diving
- Sitting in the water pit
- Lush forest surroundings
- Campgrounds are 400m away, within a leisurely stroll over flat terrain.
- Drop Toilets are available at the campground.
- Scroll down to the Camping in Barrington Tops section to learn more about this Campground.
Getting to Ladies Well
NOTE: Following these directions will take you on some unpaved roads. These unpaved roads are all public roads and traversable in a 2WD.
- Head North towards the village of Salisbury.
- Turn left onto the unpaved Salisbury Gap Rd and head west.
- In 17.5kms, take a sharp right onto Allyn River Rd.
- Head north for 11km until you reach Ladies Well.
- Head north on Allyn River Rd for 24kms.
- When you reach the village of Eccleston, the road surface will change to become unpaved.
- Head north for 11kms until you reach Ladies Well.
Polblue Swamp Walk
Polblue Swamp Walking Track, Barrington Tops National Park. Photo NSW Government.
This easy to follow 3km loop boardwalk can be accessed from Polblue campground and Picnic Area. It will guide you through the mistic wetlands and high altitude forests of the Barrington Tops Plateau. A great platform for spotting wombats, kangaroos and the diverse flora and fauna of this spectacular region. Allow approximately one and a half hours to complete the walk, after which you can enjoy a picnic with family and friends at the picnic area and unwind.
The spectacular Gloucester Falls can be discovered by following the Gloucester Falls walking track. The walk begins from the nearby picnic area and takes approximately one hour each way. This relaxed walk is ideal for the whole family to explore the lush sub-alpine forest and marvel at the breathtaking views from the Andrew Laurie Lookout. Continue along the track to uncover the multilevel water cascade offered by Gloucester Falls.
The stunning Gloucester Falls, Barrington Tops National Park. Photo Credit .
Upon your return, you can enjoy a picnic at Gloucester Falls Picnic Area. Toilets and picnic tables are available here for you to enjoy.
Barrington Tops Camping
One of the highlights of Barrington Tops is the scenic camping.