Barrington Tops is the highest subalpine region in the country outside the Australian Alps and it gets a regular dusting of snow each winter. You’ll be enthralled by high altitude ancient rainforests, towering tree fern groves, snow gum meadows and exhilarating mountain views.
Gentle snowfall: June 2018
click here for latest photos from June 2018 snowfall event
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Gloucester and Dungog are the closest towns to the renowned wilderness destinations of World Heritage Barrington Tops, Woko and Copeland Tops. Make sure you start your visit to see snow in Barrington Tops at the Visitor Information Centre in Gloucester or in Dungog, to check road conditions.
Travel guidance for driving in snow and ice
Driving in Ice & Snow – download the brochure here.
The World Heritage Barrington Tops reaches a peak elevation of 1586 metres. During the winter months when conditions are right the area can experience snow falls ranging from a light dusting to heavy falls. Driving in the Barrington Tops during a snow/ice event requires extreme caution. Drivers must heed warnings issued and adhere to any road closures that may be in place.
Barrington Tops Forest Road
The main access road to Barrington Tops is the Barrington Tops Forest Road—also known as the Scone-Gloucester Road. Much of this road is unsealed which can present an additional hazard during a snow event. If this road deteriorates it can be closed to all vehicles to ensure the safety of visitors. Road closures are at the discretion of the Local Emergency Management Committee and local police.
The Thunderbolts Way near Nowendoc
In a widespread snow event visitors seeking to avoid driving on the unsealed roads of Barrington Tops occasionally access snow via the Thunderbolts Way around Nowendoc. The steep incline of the Thunderbolts Way can be hazardous due to black ice. Drive to the conditions and check on road conditions prior to travel.
Driving in snow conditions
Check your tyres and brakes
Brakes, steering and suspension are critical for the safe handling of a car in slippery conditions. Traction on the road is compromised during a snow or ice event—2WD vehicles are affected more than 4WD vehicles. Snow and ice reduce handling and braking performance, increasing the risk of a vehicle crashing.
If you intend to take your vehicle into snow conditions check your tyres and brakes before you travel:
- Check your tyres have plenty of tread depth
- Check tyres for damage such as cuts, bubbles in the side walls or scuffing. If tread wear is uneven or near the minimum legal limit, have them replaced and the wheel alignment checked.
- Refer to your vehicle manual for the correct tyre pressure for driving in snow and ice.
- Check your brakes are working correctly prior to heading to the snow.
Driving in snow and ice
- Slow the vehicle using gears and avoid sudden braking, accelerating or sudden movement of the steering wheel.
- If you do use your brakes, apply them gently on the straight before coming into the corner. Use gradual acceleration and keep your momentum up slopes.
- Leave extra distance between you and the vehicle in front.
- Always tell someone where you are going before you travel
- Be prepared in case of an incident—take extra warm clothing, food and water, candles and matches
Be aware of black Ice
Take care when driving at night, dawn or dusk where surface moisture and dew can freeze into black ice— a transparent coating of ice on roads that can be very difficult to see, particularly in shaded or low-lying areas. Watch for icy patches on shady parts of the road, through cuttings, on bridges and on winding stretches where ice may have formed over a thin layer of snow.
Add anti-freeze to your engine radiator. You’ll need to match the amount of anti-freeze to the capacity of the coolant system. If the coolant freezes, the engine block and radiator may crack, leaving you stranded with an expensive repair bill. Most modern cars use coolant with wide temperature capabilities, but you’ll need to check with your service provider if special coolant is needed. Adding anti-freeze to your windscreen washing fluid will prevent it freezing on the windscreen when driving.
Driving in high winds
In strong winds there is potential for trees and branches to fall, posing a risk to visitors. There is also a risk that trees might fall over roads and trails, possibly blocking access into and out of areas. Blizzard conditions do occur on Barrington Tops and driving during a high wind snow event is extremely hazardous.
Using your GPS
When driving on the Barrington Tops plateau GPS instructions can be misleading and phone coverage is intermittent at best. Pick up a real map and get more information about road conditions from the Gloucester Visitor Information Centre.
When will it snow?
Snow falls are most likely in the Barrington Tops from May to August, and are usually of very short duration. Tracking the Barrington Tops weather reports at the Bureau of Meteorology will keep you up-to-date with changing weather conditions, which may indicate a snow event. Bureau of Meteorology Barrington Tops forecasts
Where can I see snow?
You can access the Barrington Tops plateau via the Barrington Tops Forest Road: from the eastern side through Gloucester, and the western side through Scone. Polblue camping area (1450m) and Devils Hole lookout (1400m) on the Barrington Tops Forest Road are good places to start. From Gloucester: Drive into Gloucester turn left at the roundabout and head out the Thunderbolts Way onto Scone Road and onto Barrington Tops Forest Road.
Can I take my dog to the snow?
Parts of Barrington Tops are National Park and other parts are State Forest. Dogs are not allowed in National Parks but they are welcome in State Forest areas. Get a good map of the area from Gloucester Visitor Information Centre that shows the boundaries. Snow can fall in Stewarts Brook State Forest and Barrington Tops State Forest but wherever you go please beware of the possible use of 1080 bait. http://www.forestrycorporation.com.au/visit…/activities/dogs
The Barrington Tops Forest Road can be closed at short notice to all vehicles by the Local Emergency Management Committee and local police. For up-to-date information about closures go to www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/alerts/Alerts-list
Annual winter closure of 4WD trails: The following 4WD trails on Barrington Tops are closed to all vehicles each year from 1 June to 30 September:
- Barrington Trail (south and north)
- Paddys Ridge Trail
- Butchers Swamp Trail
- Bullock Brush Trail
- Tugalow Trail
- Thunderbolts Trail
When the above trails are closed there is no vehicle access to Little Murray, Junction Pools and Gummi falls campgrounds.
Access to Barrington Tops is via a steep, unsealed road and can become very slippery in snow, ice or rain. With high vehicle usage the road can be boggy and corrugated with large potholes. 4WD vehicles are better suited to driving in these conditions. If your car becomes stranded it may take several days to be recovered.
Mobile phone service on the Barrington Tops can be patchy to non-existent. Make sure you tell someone about your travel plans before you leave. The weather can change quickly in the Barrington Tops particularly during a snow event. Make sure you pack plenty of extra warm clothing, blankets, and additional food and water—even if it’s just a day trip!
The information was derived from the following sources:
http://www.mynrma.com.au – driving in the snow
http://www.roadsafety.transport.nsw.gov.au – snow driving
www.Facebook/Barrington Tops Snow Chasers
Visitors choosing to travel to see snow in Barrington Tops should be extremely cautious on these winding mountain roads as they are unsealed and can get slippery when snow covered and very dangerous when ice covered.
Check out the conditions of snow in Barrington Tops before your travel and seek the latest official snow updates from the Area Office of NPWS in Gloucester. There are several road gates that may be closed if driving becomes dangerous due to Barrington Top snow conditions . Call the Gloucester Visitor Information Centre on 6538 5252 for more information.