Hang on a minute, there was one other quick trip we almost forgot about before our multi week outback adventure. Again sorry about the photo quality but we thnk some came up not too bad back then.
With a few days to spare and with our trusty “4wd Treks Close to Sydney” in hand we were puttering up the highway, this time heading north to the camping and 4wd mecca of mighty Barrington Tops. We had been here previously, at least to some parts when we lived in Newcastle for a few years, as it was virtually in our backyard but that was prior to our camping days so we were looking forward to spending a couple of nights high up in the mountains. It was late April and we knew to expect any weather particularly at this time of year. Oh, well that’s part of the adventure, isn’t it. After picking up some last minute supplies at Gloucester we were off heading for the village of Barrington then onto the well maintained Barrington Tops Forest Road which is the main drag through the tops. It is possible to stick to this main road and run all the way across ending up at Scone in the Hunter Valley, which we have done since through rain and even snow. There were a few diversions off the main forest road we wanted to take and with the weather looking promising we thought it was going to be a great couple days exploring this wonderful, scenic area.
Our first nights camp was a little clearing in the Barrington Tops State Forest just off Dilgry Circle, our fist diversion off the Barrington Tops Forest Road called Banksia Camping Area. There are no facilities here but it is a beaut little spot nestled beside the gorgeous Dilgry River.
Climbing into the tent that night with millions of stars lighting up the night sky we thought the weather gods must have been content with us. Another important camping lesson was about to be learnt that night. The roar of engines awoke us in the wee hours. Jolted from our slumber we listed as several cars then several trucks went barreling past on nearby Dilgry Circle. Yes one must remember when camping in a working forest work starts early in these areas and we have since been jolted awake by logging trucks thundering through our quiet little campsites in the early hours.
Awakening after a rather disturbed sleep we were greeted with typical mountain weather, overcast and fog starting to roll in. Like our rude awakening in the wee hours our luck with the weather gods appeared to have worn out. By the time we had packed up camp it starting to drizzle, although not too much so we thought we would continue on our tour, we had raincoats and an umbrella so shouldn’t get too wet anyway. A little further along Dilgry Circle deep within the forest there is a curious rock formation just beside the road simply known as “The Rock”. We will let you make up your own mind as to what it resembles to you.
After ‘admiring’ “The Rock” our light drizzle was looking more set in but we thought we would stick it out anyway. Opting to head back out to the main road as the more minor tracks and trails were starting to get nice and boggy we decided to check out some of the attractions in this section of Barrington Tops National Park. First was Thunderbolts Lookout, named after the infamous bushranger of the area Captain Thunderbolt aka Frederick Ward who wandered these ranges back in the 1860s. Even though the mist was rolling in the views from the lookout were made even more spectacular by the low lying cloud.
Moving on from Thunderbolts Lookout another top lookout just off the main forest road is Devils Hole. We are sure the view from here is just as spectacular as from Thunderbolts but by the time we got here the fog had well and truly made its presence felt. At least the walk to the lookout is pretty.
As the weather was looking more and more ominous we headed further along the Barington Tops Forest Road to the ever enchanting Polblue Swamp. There is a day use and camping area here and the walk around the swamp is a must. It truly is a gem of Barrington.
After absorbing ourselves in the splendor of Polblue Swamp the weather was definitely deteriorating so with not particularly wanting a wet, soggy night a plan was hatched to escape the deluge. With map in hand we decided to hightail it off the mountain in search of better weather for a second night camping. Dunns Swamp within Wollemi National Park just outside of Rylstone was the destination chosen. We had never been here before so it was as good a destination as any we thought. By now it was just after lunchtime but it didn’t look that far on the map and after all it was on the way home to the Blue Mountains, albeit the long way. Hopefully there was better weather ahead. Taking a little longer than anticipated (read much longer) we finally arrived into Dunns Swamp in pitch darkness, reading the information sign at the camping area and filling in our camping permit by failing torch light. Another camping lesson in here to make sure we have good torches on board for especially these times. Fumbling around in the dark we managed to find a vacant campsite, at least it wasn’t raining and the stars were once again shining down upon us.
Awakening the next morning to a glorious, sunny day we were quite impressed by the location and set up of this wonderful camping area. Dunns Swamp is a man made structure, established for the use of the nearby Kandos Cement Works which have now closed down. Being only a few hours from Sydney and having a modest lake to play in Dunns Swamp can get quite busy on weekends and holiday times. We were here on a Saturday night and although we couldn’t see in the dark there was a myriad of campers spread around, probably lucky we found an empty campsite so easily and didn’t end up bunking in with someone else in the dark.
Having hightailed it yesterday we were able to take our last day much more quietly and being only a couple of hours from home meant we had ample time to explore this stunning spot. We have since returned to Dunns Swamp on numerous occasions, particularly seeing as it is now close to home for us and each time we are able to discover something find something new but we will always remember our first time here, our escape from the wild weather of Barrington Tops. Incidentally each subsequent trip we have had to Barrington Tops it has either been wet or even snowing. I guess we will strike on a good weather day at sometime.
Anyway on the way home from Dunns Swamp we decided to take “the back way” from Rylstone via Glen Alice and Glen Davis through the Capertee Valley then out to the highway at the village of Capertee for the easy run back to the mountains. The road between Rylstone and Glen Davis has improved somewhat over the years but sections still remain dirt with corrugations aplenty but this just added to our weekend “out in the bush”. By the time we reached the historic town of Glen Davis it was lunch time. On the way into town we had spotted a sign along a dirt track to a camping area in Wollemi National Park. It was too good an opportunity to pass so off we went to find the perfect lunch spot. Maybe we were delaying the inevitable of heading home, either way after trundling down through the bush and over a rough creek crossing we arrived at a small clearing beside a wonderful bubbling brook deep in the bush. A perfect spot to end our weekend adventure. By the way we have since been back to this camping area, only recently and it has been much improved by National Parks with large grassed camping areas, pit toilets and a concrete causeway over the rough creek entrance we were encountered with all those years ago. Still makes for a lovely spot.
Just off the Castlereagh Highway south of Capertee there is a lookout overlooking the impressive Gardens of Stone National Park. It is well worth a stop and makes for a great photo opportunity if you are out this way. We have stopped here numerous times and each time it looks just that little bit different.
Make sure you stay tuned for our next installment. It will definately be our first multi week outback camping and 4wd trip to Broken Hill and beyond as well as the Flinders Ranges and even part of the Eyre Peninsula, one of our all time favorite camping and touring destinations.