Head to the hills in the Hunter these holidays instead

With coastal campgrounds on the Central Coast, Hunter and Mid North Coast solidly booked these school holidays, the NPWS is encouraging visitors to consider some lesser known spots for a better experience.

Tall trees in the fog, River walking track, Barrington Tops National Park

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Acting Director Hunter Central Coast Branch, Anthony Signor said they are expecting a greater than usual surge in visitors, but there are still some spots to spread out and stay safe.

'Heading into the summer holidays, most of our campgrounds are heavily booked from the Central Coast to the Manning and Great Lakes region and we’re expecting large numbers of day visitors,' Mr Signor said.

'As part of keeping people safe and ensuring they have a special (and less crowded) national park experience we encourage people to try some of the lesser known options. Some suggestions include:

  • Copeland Tops State Conservation Area: A short drive from Gloucester, tours of the Mountain Maid gold mine precinct are available on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Junior Ranger tours are a hit with the kids, while twilight spotlighting tours and cultural tours demonstrate the diverse experiences available in this intriguing reserve. Bookings are available on the NPWS website.
  • The southern side of Barrington Tops National Park, accessed from Dungog, includes the scenic walks along the Williams River. Huge Sydney blue gums soar above, with short detours leading to secluded river spots for a swim. Full day and shorter walks are available from the Williams River picnic area.
  • Other camping, 4WD and walking options are available in Barrington Tops National Park, noting access is currently only from the west via Scone.
  • Towarri National Park and Mount Royal National Park located in the Upper Hunter are ideal for camping, hiking, picnicking and swimming.
  • Burning Mountain Nature Reserve, north of Scone, is home to Australia’s only naturally burning coal seam and is best discovered on a four kilometre walking track with information panels along the way unpacking the story of Burning Mountain, including its science and fascinating Aboriginal heritage.

'Intending visitors should also be mindful of a few locations which are currently closed including Gloucester Tops and Gloucester River campground (due to bridge repairs). Bangalow Road in the Watagans which provides access to Gap Creek and Bangalow campgrounds is also closed from storm damage. Check the NPWS website for alerts for closures in NSW national parks before you visit.

'Remember booking is now required for all campsites in NSW national parks to protect our visitors and prevent the spread of COVID-19,' Mr Signor said.