Driving the Tops from East to West
Red Triangle Slug
The Gloucester-to-Scone road was originally constructed by the New South Wales State Forests for the extraction of hardwood logs. For one hundred and forty-six kilometres, the mostly gravel road provides a scenic tourist link between the Upper Hunter Valley and Gloucester, one hour's drive from the coast. Short walks to remarkable views of forested wilderness cloaking majestic mountains cross alpine meadows and woodlands close by the roadside-ideal places where less intrepid bush walkers and the very young and elderly can experience the beauty of the Barrington tops without exertion.
The expansive view from Moonan Outlook will take in a distant coastline on a clear day.
After crossing the Barrington River and the village of Barrington, originally settled by Scottish families adjacent to the Australian Agricultural Company's land grant, the road passes by the former Copeland goldfields. At the Cobark Forest Park, a walk through magnificent stands of messmate, that has traditionally supplied timber to Hunter Valley industries, leads into an Antarctic beech forest. Moppy Lookout surveys the rugged eastern escarpment of the Barrington Tops plateau next to another short walk into a beech forest lined with luxurious soft tree-ferns.
Pheasant Creek road detour enters an unusual association of large banksias growing beneath brown barrel and attractive ribbon gum, falling away to beech forest on sheltered slopes. Where the road returns to the Barrington Tops Road, the drive rises to Polblue Swamp. Vast alpine woodlands spread out over the exposed plateau where silver-blotched ochre and cream snowgums and mountain gums thrive in wind and snow in wintertime.
Summer brings a flourish of wildflowers to the Barrington Tops.
A walking track around Polblue Swamp encompasses a vast sphagnum moss swamp dissected by meandering channels of icy water filled with bright green water weeds. One of the most ancient plants, the club moss grows in this maze of subalpine flora here. To the south-east, Mount Polblue rises to a height of 1575 metres in the Mount Royal Range. From Moonan Lookout, fantastic views overlook the Liverpool Range which links Barrington Tops along the Mount Royal Range to the Great Escarpment. On a clear day, the Great Dividing Range can be detected behind the headwaters of the Hunter River.