The name "Barrington Tops"
seems to suggest being high on top and looking down. But, though
they form a saucer-shaped plateau 5,000 feet high, it is seldom you
have the feeling of being on high and looking down. In fact, their
charm for me lies not upon the tops, but in the surrounding pastoral
lands, the approaches through sub-tropical jungle, and, perhaps most
important of all, the people who live there and with whom I have
made friends. Nevertheless I feel sure it would be a delightful trip
to follow the Barrington River from its source in the wide, swampy
country of the tops to the lower coastal lands, and fish in the many
pools on its course downwards.
I have traversed four of
the five approaches to the Plateau, and to my mind the Allyn River
route is the loveliest, for there is a marvellous charm in the soft
green of its narrow valley hemmed in as it is by low rolling hills.
The jungle, or "brush," to use the local term, begins quite
suddenly. One leaves the cow-paddocks, and steps into the dense
growth of trees, vines, ferns, and mosses too numerous to take in
except as a glorious whole. The sunlight makes a valiant, but vain,
attempt to pierce that canopy of leaves, birdsnest ferns, and
orchids growing overhead on the trees.
At the second
river-crossing, about three miles on, the track turns suddenly at
right angles from the river and climbs steeply up the Williams
Range. At once there is a change of .scene—beautiful tree-ferns,
lovely, huge gums, stinging trees, and trees covered with the
tentacle-like growth of the ficus. A little further, and one passes
through a forest of native beech trees. These in no way resemble the
European tree of that name, but they are very beautiful and utterly
different from the :gum and wattle forest usually met with on our
trips. About half way up there is a glorious view from "Scouts'
Alley" looking south-eastward over Williams Valley, and just beyond
is a convenient spring which keeps itself all hidden, a secret
behind a tree-fern.
For 5,100 feet the track
winds upward till it reaches the tufty snow grass, twisted snow-gums
and grotesque, lichen-covered trees where one looks for gnomes in
grottoes and wicked fairies.
A final series of gentle
slopes brings one out at last on Cary's Peak, an outlying buttress
of the Plateau, and I am always surprised to come out on top and
find the Allyn Valley down and away in the distance. I think this is
because there are few views on the way up.
From the "Peak" the track
continues upwards to the "Hut." The view is gone again and the
country is broad, flat and open with low ridges, but care must be
taken to keep to the track, for the flat-looking country is really
swamp. In fact the tops are a succession of swamps interspersed with
narrow, swiftly-flowing branches of the Barrington River.
The "hut" which has an
amazing variety of furniture, including cane chairs and bedsteads,
and at one time a six-valve wireless set—out of order of course—is
built on a narrow, low ridge dividing two swamps. Beyond it the
track swings round, crosses the next arm of the Barrington and meets
the motor-road from Scone. But my favourite route goes over towards
Mount Barrington, with its trig sign overlooking a lovely view of
mountains and valleys in all directions except the east. From there
the track descends suddenly to Stewart's Brook and its pretty
village. To complete the perfect route one should then follow up the
south arm of the brook, and go along the stock route over the Mount
Royal Range to the Boonabilla Creek, which is clothed in brush even
more wonderful than that encountered on the Allyn River, till one
comes out on lovely, green, glossy flats.
There are two or three
farms here, and the people who live in them are descendants of
Oliver Jolliffe, who pioneered
this country. They are at a
dead end of things, and are consequently quite unspoiled by
civilisation, and always delighted to see newi faces. It is their
kindness and hospitality that has made this lonely spot very dear to
several Bush Walkers.