[SUBW] SUBW Trip report - Barrington Tops 18-20 August 2017
bstaffor at med.usyd.edu.au
Fri Aug 25 14:42:32 AEST 2017
SUBW Trip report - Barrington Tops 18-20 August 2017.
Party: Bruce (leading), Candice, Cathie, Emily, Karen, Gen Lei Mo,
The Friday morning started off with my Samsung mobile phone dying as
it stubbornly refused to recognise that it had a SIM card installed.
With a vital need for a working mobile phone for contacting walk
people later that night, the morning was spent buying and then
figuring out how to work an Apple iPhone.
So the plan was for Karen, Gen Lei Mo, Dong, and Xinyi to meet up with
me at Maccas at the Caltex service centre on the M1 freeway near
Jilliby, and I would collect Cathie, Candice and Emily at Tascott
Station. When the train pulled in to Tascott however, only Candice got
off. Soon after I received a call from Emily that she had forgotten to
be in the last car for Tascott, and then Cathie texted that she was
getting off at Gosford as the doors didn't open at Tascott (seems she
on the wrong side of the car).
So Candice and myself drove to Gosford Station to pick up Emily and
Cathie, and then we drove to The Caltex centre to meet up with the
others already patiently waiting there at Maccas. Cathie and Emily
were happy to discover an "Olivers" organic food outlet there.
Then we continued along the M1 and then onto the Hunter Expressway and
then to Maitland and on to Dungog. There we stopped for a loo stop at
the local hotal, the only thing open in Dungog at that time of night.
We got curious looks from the local yokels there.
From Dungog it is a 39 km drive to Barrington Tops National Park and
on the way we did not see a single other car. The last 5km is within
the Chichester State Forest on a dirt road which turned out to be in
very good condition.
We intended to camp at White Rock camp in that forest, but missed the
turnoff as someone has removed the signpost, and we ended up at the
start of the Corker Track, which we were doing the next day. On the
road we noticed signs stating "special event" without indicating what
that special event might be. Anyway I found the correct turnoff for
White Rock Camp which was only 10 minutes away. On arrival there we
found that there was onbly one other group being two couples who were
camped on the far side of the camp ground.
Sowe set up out tents - with some people learning the intricacies of
where to put poles etc under torch light - and settled in for the
night. By then it was almost 2 a.m.
A strong cold wind blew continuously throughout the night, but all the
tents survived. When we woke we found that there was not the slightest
bit of dew or any moisture on any of the tents, which is unusual.
A turkey walked round the tents, inspecting them (and probably hoping
After breakfast we packed our tents back into the cars and then drove
the short distance to the start of the Corker Track, which was our
walk. There was a surprise waiting there for us! The "special event"
tuned out to be some sort of running festival (which I later found out
was called the "Thunderbolt Trail Race"). There were run organisers
parked there and several runners already passing through for a run up
the Corker Track.
(Now this raises a question: if the size limit of groups going into
Barrington Tops and other World Heritage areas is 8, how come a run
with 71 participants was allowed there??).
So we set off up the quite steep Corker Track (which is at its
steepest in the first 1-2 km), being regularly overtaken by the
runners who, unlike us, only had to carry a "camelback" water
container. Most of them said hello to us, but there were several who
either completely ignored us, or gave us looks as if to say "what are
you doing blocking our track". (You see lots of these "Type A
Personality" types on the "City to Surf Run" as well).
The Corker Track continues up and up, with a fairly level section at a
place called "Scouts Alley". Here the vegetation is lush and what you
would expect to see in the North East tropical rainforests. It is a
fairly solid unrelenting slog up along for the first 8 kms, and after
that it levels out more.
At the halfway point there is a lookout where we stopped for morning
tea. At this point the track is at 1250 metres altitude, approximately
the Barrington Tops snow line. The sun was out on this cold clear day.
After another kilometre the track starts to level out, and we
encountered a "hygiene stop" for treating shoes to stop the spread of
Phytophthora cinnamomi, a soil-borne water mould which can cause plant
roots to rot (it is not native but is an introduced pathogen). We all
scrubbed our shoes at the hygiene station.
Not too far along we came to the junction with the Gloucester Tops
Trail, which is a walk back to Gloucester Tops 18km away. It is a walk
worth doing, longer than Corker Track but a much more easier gradient.
At this point we are at 1400 metres altitude, higher than the highest
mountain (Ben Nevis), in the British Isles.
The vegetation type also had changed to predominently Snow Gums.
Straight ahead is Wombat Creek campground, but we went left left for
the final (thankfully short) climb to Careys Peak. On arrival there we
stopped for lunch. Dong and Gen Lei looked in vain for a hot water
outlet (a kiosk?) for the noodles they had brought along for lunch,
and rest rooms, but all there is at Carey's Peak is a rudimentary hut
The walk was not only a steep walk, it was culturally a steep learning
curve for some as well. In Australia we tend to take the conditions on
our bushwalks for granted, but they can be a surprise for people from
You may note in the photos that a previous group at Carey's Peak had
built a fireplace using a stone ring. This is bad bushwalking
practice! There should be no need for stone rings, and collecting
stones deprives small creatures of their homes and spoils the area.
Beetles, small lizards, frogs and scorpions all live under stones like
If the National Parks or Forest Services provide fireplaces (such as
here), use them!
After lunch we took the short track to the Lookout at Carey's Peak,
which provides a wonderful view to the east and south west. Although
the day was slightly hazy the sand hills along Stockton Bight on the
ocean could just be made out. Much closer were Mount Allyn and Mount
Carrow, in Mount Royal National Park.
By this time the weather was getting very cold and clouds were
starting to hide the sun, and the wind was increasing. We decided to
make our way back down the Corker Track back to the cars. Again we
stopped at the previously mentioned lookout, and then continued on the
steep track downwards. By this Gen Lei had found sleeping time all the
runners had left, but they also left behind an unwelcome "gift": the
track surface had been worn by 71 runners going up and down it causing
the displacement of a lot of lose small gravel on the stack. This made
it rather slippery in places and care had to be taken. At one point I
slipped and unfortunately the stretching of my thigh muscles caused
cramps, which required a 5 minute stop until the cramps ceased.
Otherwise I could have easily got up, but not with those cramps. (I
though it odd as the previous Sunday I had done the City 2 Surf 14km
with an extra 3km walk to Bondi Junction without any ill effects).
By the time we reached the cars it was right on sunset, but we only
took another 10 minutes to get back to White Rock Campsite so we were
able to set up the tents in the dusk. Noted that the other group we
saw the previous night were still there.
Dong and Gen Lei has found it cold sleeping in tents the night before
and decided to sleep in their car. They were warned by me and Candice
that they would be sleeping in a tin box, likely colder than a tent,
but they decided to proceed. (They later said that they were warm
overnight, but I suspect that was helped by occasionally running the
Similarly, Cathie and Emily found their tent had been cold as it had
an outer fly but a mesh inner -more suitable for summer trips. I had
brought along a back-up tent - just in case - which I had found kept
me warm under snow on Barrington Tops on a previous trip, and they set
Then it was time for dinner. I had brought along three large
chook-food bags full of wood from home, and we built the fire with
that. And a very good fire it was! (see photos). Then it was an early
night to bed, to make up for the short sleep of the previous night.
Meanwhile it was a clear night and the Milky Way and the Constellation
of Scorpio were directly overhead. Unfortunately I couldn't get the
"bulb" function on my camera to work properly so there are no star
A trial by Candice, and also myself, was made of the latest fashion in
sleeping mats - the now-empty chook-food bags! I put one under my
inflated mat, and Candice used two of them. Report, they made a
difference in stopping any cold or damp from coming up from the ground.
Next morning we packed up, again finding very little moisture on the
tents, although the wind had ceased during the night. Cathie and Emily
had found the replacement tent much more to their liking. The zip on
the fly had jammed on an earlier trip and I had replaced it with
Velcro, and this was its first test. It work well.
The it was the drive back to Dungog for a late breakfast. This time we
could all see the nice rural countryside and at one point slowed right
down for dairy cows crossing the road. The cows said moo. Also a
couple of dead kangaroos were seen beside the road (apparently hit the
previous night), but I didn't require my passengers to pose with them
(I will explain that comment at a later date).
In Dungog we went to a nice cafe and ordered breakfast. It was good
timing as it appeared we were the first customers there and got served
quickly. Within 15 minutes quite a few day-trippers started to appear
Then Candice changed to Dong and Gen Lei's car as they could drop her
off at Wahroonga on the way home. Then Cathie, Emily and myself drive
a block to Dungog Railway Station so Cathie could top up her Opal
Card. Yet despite Dungog being the northern-most limit of where Opal
Cards can be used, there was no top-off point there! A sign said, go
to the IGA shop instead. Thank you, Transport Minister Constance!
So we simply went back to the M1 with a slight deviation through Lorn
and the trendy historic town of Morpeth. Again the "Olivers" organic
food place was visited, and a loo stop.
Then back to Tascott Station. As there was a bit of time before the
train left I showed Cathie and Emily my chooks and the large Bush
Turkey nest in my backyard.
It was a good trip for everyone and a good learning experience for
some. The original weather forecast for Barrington Tops had been snow,
but although it was cold enough for snow the weather remained dry the
whole weekend. Pity about the presence on the Corker Track of the
And a great effort by all who did the 24km round-trip walk on the
steep Corker track, especially by our novice bushwalkers. Well done!
My photo link:
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