Three things you can expect to find when exploring the slopes of the Barrington Tops. On this adventure, I survived the lurking trolls and saved my mother-in-law’s life with a hankie. Not your average adventure.
The great Barrington Tops
On Easter Friday, we joined the epic Sydney exodus escaping the city via the Grand Pacific Highway. Not the only misleading road name on our journey, the Golden Gate highway was just as uninspiring.
We made a quick decision to ditch the traffic and pulled off into the unknown countryside. By ‘unknown’ I am exaggerating because we had Google Maps and a convoy of other Sydney-siders opting for the more scenic route.
Toothless farmers, bikers and cow herding
This decision added to the five-hour adventure. With no supermarkets between us and our wilderness destination, we bought whatever we could get our hands on.
We daringly drove into a farm to buy eggs and beehive honey from a toothless farmer and his growling dog. Next, stopped at a fruit shack where we stocked up on passion fruit, nectarines and veggies.
Famished we then pulled into a disused petrol station turned cafe, party to a rather large gang of bikers. My mother-in-law Veronica (Ron), orders the coffees, Lewy’s huge slice of carrot cake and my caramel shortbread (which we translated to the confused waitress as a “slaiiiice”).
We continued our drive through the wine region of Hunter Valley and soon the vineyards turned into green hilly fields, speckled with old abandoned wooden houses and cow sheds. Eventually, the road stopped and we took the precarious gravel lane where Ron volunteered to jump out and herd the road-grazing cows.
Finally, we arrived at the “Barrington Tops Wilderness Retreat”, to settle into our little Airbnb wooden lodge, nestled amongst the tall trees and tree ferns.
Lewy and Ron pushed me out of my comfort zone by suggesting we went for an early evening stroll. I reluctantly packed my bag full of life-saving equipment and prepared to walk into the forest, occupied by trolls and patrolling orcs. My imagination spiralled as we walked through the rustling bush, past an old abandoned bus. This strange little community had once been a busy holiday resort, now somewhat abandoned and reclaimed by the forest.
The trolls didn’t make an appearance this time but we returned to the lodge with a leech working its way through Ron’s trainer. She whipped out her hankie and attacked it from above. The little sucker would go thirsty tonight.
Into the wild with sandwiches
Satisfied I wouldn’t be eaten by trolls and with backpacks full of picnic supplies, on day two we ventured out on a 15k hike from the lodge, up the gentle forest slopes to Rocky Crossing. Ron armed me with a hankie to extract the enemy. With Ron’s life-saving weapon I was ready to take on the bush.
The path took us through the dense unkept forest. We crunched along the undergrowth navigating hanging vines, broken bridges and marvelling giant ancient eucalyptus trees. Like Dora the Explorer, I stopped to take photos of wallabies, birds, fairies and all kinds of weird mushrooms.
Leeches latched onto our shoes when passing the dampest forest or streams. One suckered into Ron’s tasty ankle and I courageously wrestled the elastic 2cm beast with the hankie.
Graceful water badgers
Finally, we made it to our picnic destination at Rocky Crossing, a clearing in the forest with cascading waterfalls. We hungrily ate our egg mayo and crisp sandwiches, contemplating the watering hole which Ron had confirmed was freezing cold.
Refuelled, Lewy and I paced back and forth. Sod it. Clothes off, swimsuits on and in we went. As graciously as water badgers we glided off the slippery rocks, snorting, hyperventilating and about to get eaten by the enemy. Somehow, we survived a leech-free swim.
Feeling very alive from the watering hole we set off on the 8k hike back through the forest, avoiding leeches, our path lit by illuminated fungi in the late afternoon light. Finally we made it back to the cabin for a hearty dinner and a good old game of scrabble.
And that my friends, was our adventure to the Great Barrington Tops.