City Girl goes Camping – Barrington Tops National Park

Barrington Tops Rainforest Reserve
Barrington Tops Rainforest National Park

Those of you who know me, know that I am an out an out city girl. I had never been camping in my life until last weekend that is. I had been steering AS gently towards all the beachy fun relaxed holidays for the whole of last year. That is, until he saw through the scam and his Mountain Boy soul rebelled against the injustice. After a mild tantrum about how he never gets to plan holidays of his liking, I decided it was finally time to cave in and let him take the reigns! Without letting go of the opportunity AS suggested camping, and knowing how much he loves this living in the wild craziness, I agreed, like any other nice wife would.

So off we went to Barrington Tops National Park in NSW, around 4hours drive from Sydney. The Barrington Tops National Park, rises from near sea level to over 1500m and protects one of the largest temperate rainforests in mainland Australia, along with a host of diverse habitats and wide range of birds and animals. There are multiple campsites and picnic areas to fit every kind of adventurer.

River flowed right next to the campgrounds at Camp Cobark
River flowed right next to the campgrounds at Camp Cobark

Being the well prepared ninjas that we are (big time sarcasm!), we left the planning to last minute, which obviously resulted in us leaving for our big bushland adventure by mid-day. Note: be prepared for all your camping needs the night before so that you leave nice and early. Barrington Tops is around 320km from Sydney via the Pacific Motorway. The last big town is Gloucester to load up on any essentials that you would need. Post that it would be you and the wilderness. The drive through valleys, winding mountain roads and mostly gravel roads is quite picturesque and beautiful though.

We got our map of the national park area at Gloucester Visitor Centre and I highly recommend that you pick one. It helped us in figuring our way out, as phones and GPS don’t work in there, and you really are in the wild with nothing but bushland around you. Most campsites have wood-fire barbecue so make sure to pick up some firewood and fire starters, plus there is nothing more fun than sitting around the fire at night exchanging stories. Finally armed with everything we needed, we set out on our journey and reached the Northern Barrington Tops area a little after 5pm.

Campgrounds at Camp Cobark
Campgrounds at Camp Cobark

We made camp first night at the beautiful Camp Cobark, which is set on a cattle property next to a flowing river. The campgrounds here also have a 20bed bunkhouse and you can pay to use the flush toilets and showers (bingo!). With a river flowing next to the grassy campground it all seemed idyllic, if you ignored the buzzing flies. But then disaster stuck, and we couldn’t set our tent up! We had borrowed the camping gear from one of AS’s colleagues, and weren’t used to it. After several futile attempts over the course of an hour, it was agreed to seek help from some fellow campers. Kindness of strangers in such situations is always what humbles me no end. How people are ready to help just because you are in need. If only we could live our entire lives this way!

We found a lot of weird fallen tree structures and our imagination ran wild!
We found a lot of weird fallen tree structures and our imagination ran wild!

The night sky was starry and gorgeous, and sitting by the warm fire, eating some sizzling meat from the barbecue and sipping some fine wine, and listening to soulful music. The rest of the night was uneventful which was a good thing. The next morning all packed up we decided to check out a new campsite and get a bit more adventurous.

Polblue Swamp Walk
Polblue Swamp Walk

On the way we hiked across the Polblue Swamp walk which was beautiful but inhabited by aggressive magpies, and we were attacked more than once, but escaped. There are a few lookouts on the way as well the best being Devil’s Hole Lookout, which is a short walk up and offers some gorgeous views and flora and fauna to look at. Tip: pick up stick and rotate it over your head to avoid the Magpies from attacking you.

Manning River - the campgrounds were walking distance from the river
Manning River – the campgrounds were walking distance from the river

The second night we camped at Manning River Campgrounds. This was the real deal. The toilet was a hole in the ground (gods save me!). It was beautiful though large, tall trees all around, the river flowing downstream and the quietness of nothing else around you. There were a few other campers in the area, but this place had enough space for it to not get crowded. We relaxed through the day, found a shady spot beneath the trees and setup camp there. It was a bright and sunny day which changed suddenly and a surprise storm came in by the evening. Cursing we rushed for cover from the crazy storm when we heard a loud snap, and turned around to see, a big branch from one of trees under which our tent was pitched, snapped, and fallen right next to our tent. Visibly shaken, I refused to go inside the tented and be smashed to a pulp by falling branches! We sat in the car for a a few hours until the storm passed through, and then decided that the best course of action was to move our tent to a clear area devoid of trees, to get a nights rest. So trudging through the muddy grounds, that’s exactly what we did! The night passed away peacefully, and morning we were all packed up and ready to go, when the battery of the car died and it refused to start! Once again, we were humbled by the kindness of strangers in the middle of nowhere, as fellow campers helped us jumpstart our car. Else it would have taken us at least half a day to trek back to civilisation and seek help.

Storm caused the branch above to snap and fall right next to our tent!
Storm caused the branch above to snap and fall right next to our tent!

With a prayer on our lips and a humble request to god for no more adventures for the day, we left for Sydney and reached back home. I was so happy to see civilisation again, that I gulped down a giant caramel milkshake to remind me that all was good with the world again! Looking back it was fun, a little out of my comfort zone, but an experience I am willing to try again, minus the magpie attack of course!

This reminded me of ET!
This reminded me of ET
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