DAY TRIP: BARRINGTON TOPS IN NSW, AUSTRALIA

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As a naturist, I couldn’t think of a better way to finish the year than spend a weekender in the wilderness. With so much to explore in the hinterland of New South Wales, I set my sights on Barrington Tops National Park in the Hunter Valley. Without a doubt, I feel more at home in a pair of sneakers hiking than I do pounding the pavement in high heels. So with my hiking gear packed in the car, I set off to explore Barrington Tops. How To Get There Barrington Tops is approximately 250 kilometres north of Sydney, and about three hours by car. The nearest towns surrounding the national park are Scone, Singelton, Dungog and Gloucester.

What To Take Before you set off, make sure you have the following:

• A full tank of petrol in your car • Plenty of water and snacks • Sunscreen, protective clothing and a hat • Swimming bathers and a towel – trust me, you will want to swim in the fresh water creeks which are abundant in Barrington Tops • A mobile phone and mobile charger for the car • Warm clothes as the weather can turn quite quickly • Binoculars for bird watching

What To Do Get in the car and go exploring. It’s that simple. Be warned however, the Vodafone network is not available in the region although GPS should still be able to locate and track your location on Google Maps. I took my iPad with me and it proved to be a great help when meandering through the dense forest and gravel roads. For those who are with Optus, the network is alive and kicking.

With this in mind, have a plan as to which direction you want to head. There aren’t a lot of people around so make sure you let a friend or family member where you intend to explore.

Driving towards Barrington Tops, we passed farming crops and properties abundant with grazing dairy cows and sheep. If you love Cabin Porn as much as I do, then you will love this region. It's full of gorgeous cabins worthy of a submission to the internationally popular website which collects ‘inspiration for your quiet place somewhere’ from all over the world.

It’s exceptionally easy to forget about the hustle and bustle of city life and to immerse yourself in the World Heritage listed rainforests of Barrington Tops. With easy walks, overnight hikes, picnic and camping areas, and creeks to fish from, the dramatic landscape is resplendent of a picture perfect post card.

Carved out of ancient volcanic flows, the park rises from near sea level to over 1,500m and protects one of the largest temperate rainforests in Australia, along with a host of diverse habitats and wide range of birds and animals.

Barrington Tops is a hiker’s paradise, with excellent walking tracks and plenty of sites to set up a tent and camp for the evening. After driving for an hour or so to reach Barrington Tops, it wasn’t soon after that we came across a secluded camping spot surrounded by a fresh water creek. With only a few campers scattered around the site, it was very easy to find a quiet spot away from everyone and indulge in some private creek swimming.

After jumping back in the car to continue exploring, it wasn’t long until we found ourselves driving over rough gravel. I don’t own a 4WD so the driving was slow but steady. Our plan for the day was to find Thunderbolt Lookout. I hadn’t heard of it before, but the name alone swiftly caught my attention.

After driving through Barrington Tops for what felt like an eternity and sustaining a slight headache from the rocky gravel road, a hidden sign just managed to capture my attention out of the corner of my eye. Putting the car quickly in reverse, we had finally found what we were looking for.

Jumping out of the car with my camera and water bottle in hand, it was a short hike through dense forest and Australian natives before we finally arrived at Thunderbolt Lookout. An immensely spectacular view, the lookout is named after the famous local bushranger, Captain Thunderbolt. Offering spectacular 360° panoramic views, the infinite vantage point was the perfect place to sit on the rocky edge high above Barrington Tops, close my eyes and listen to the pristine sounds of nature surrounding us.