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Barrington Tops and the Hunter Valley

The entire Hunter region, including the beautiful Barrington Tops, can only be described as breathtaking. Defined by sheer drops, mountainous views and brilliant rainforest walks, the list of natural attractions and scenic spots is endless.

Accessible just 90 minutes north from Sydney, or just an hour from Newcastle, the World Heritage Listed Barrington Tops is famous for its fast flowing rivers and waterfalls that run through steep gorges and are surrounded by magnificent rainforests. There are plenty of bushwalks available with most roads sealed and easily accessible by most vehicles.

The climate is generally cooler than the coast throughout the year, but every season brings a lovely change to the region. Winter brings heavenly sights, with snow capped mountains and crystal clear mountain streams, and summer is more comfortable for bushwalking in high altitudes. It is still advisable to come prepared with lots of warm clothing in case of sudden temperature changes.

There are ample camping grounds at Barrington Tops, Camp Cobark being the most central, or a bit further out at Gloucester is the Devils Hole Camping ground (located 1400m over sea level) which also offers great fishing spots and amazing views. Nights bring much wildlife, and it is the perfect time to see the Milky Way at its best.

After you have roughed it for a while, why not enjoy the comforts of the Eaglereach Wilderness resort located atVacy. With stunning views of the Barrington Tops, this four star accommodation is a great option.

There are a string of 'must sees'. Considering the region covers more than 80 000 hectares, the scenery is wild and diverse. The Barrington Tops Forest Road is famous for its many different types of rainforest, including the ancient Antarctic Beech Forest, and is worth the drive. It will take you to fantastic lookouts such as the Devils Hole, Moonan Lookout, and the Polblue plateau which is a great place to have a picnic stop and enjoy the views. The Chichester State Forest has amazing wildlife and a rainforest trail including the largest oak tree recorded in NSW. Cobark Forest Park is also a great place to relax and offers a fantastic walking track for the family.

There are also a string of 'must do's'. There are cycling and bushwalking circuits to suit all ages. Walks range from a less than an hour to two weeks, depending on your time and fitness levels. Canoes and kayaks are available for hire along the Barrington River, trout fishing is popular, and the historic towns of Gloucester and Dungog in the Hunter valley are great for a stroll. The Barrington is also popular for horse riding, with extensive trails and horses to suit all ages. White water rafting is another favourite for the adventurous on the Barrington River in the Upper Hunter Region.

The Hunter Valley moves at a slower pace, which is why people are attracted to its towns, national parks and natural beauty. Stretching from the Barrington Tops in the north to the Wollemi National Park in the south, it is known for its great vineyards. The three national parks in this region are just as unique with amazing wildlife and scenery, and also offer great Aboriginal sites for a great cultural experience.

The centre of the lower Hunter Valley wineries is Pokolbin, located west of Cessnock. There are over 50 wineries in this region, producing many well known wine labels, such as Linemans, Tyrells Vineyards and Wyndham Estate. It is best to take your time chatting to the locals and enjoying the local food, wine and general atmosphere of the valley.

Driving through the Valley, you will come across colourful towns such as Branxton and Greta, famous for their markets and festivals. Kurri Kurri also has a fascinating mining museum which the kids will love. The historic town of Wollombi will take you back in time. Surrounded by bushland, it is a great place to stop for a while and enjoy the quiet pace.

With so many natural attractions, and diversities in landscape and appeal, the flavour and quietness of the Hunter Valley is a great contrast to the heights of the Barrington Tops. With the choices of adventure sports, bushwalking and sightseeing or doing absolutely nothing but perhaps a picnic and snooze, the entire region is the ideal destination for your 'wilderness' driving holiday.

About the Author: Jenny Brewer is a travel agent whose passion is writing. After spending her leisure time writing time writing childrens stories, she now enjoys writing about travel destinations. For more of her articles visit Australia Car Rentals

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