Taree, 320km north of Sydney, is the capital and administrative hub of the Manning Valley, located on the banks of the Manning River.
The Manning Valley encompasses the towns of Harrington, Crowdy Head, Hallidays Point, Diamond Beach, Wingham, Old Bar, Saltwater and Manning Point. The region is a playground for bushwalkers, fishermen, swimmers, surfers, water skiers, parasailers, bodyboarders, yachtsmen and skippers. It also caters for the less active…..it’s peaceful tranquility is especially conducive to pursuits requiring concentration like writers and artists. So bundle up a bag of books and head our way!
Wingham has long been regarded as The Friendly Town and one visit to this town will show you why. Nestled at the foot of the mountain range, Wingham offers the visitor a step back in time. By its very design, Wingham extols a feeling of ‘Old England’. The town is built around a Town Common which is surrounded by some 13 National Trust classified buildings. The Common is the local cricket pitch, so during Summer that feeling of old England is even stronger. Most of the historical buildings in Wingham have been carefully restored to their original grandeur and all are still being used. Buildings worth seeing include the School of Arts , the Police Station and Court House, the Bank Building, Gibson and Skinner Butchery and the refurbished Wingham Hotel. Manning Valley Historical Society’s Museum is also located within the town square area. The Museum displays include Jimmy Governor’s cell, together with various items relating to the history of the area, including farming equipment.
Wingham Brush, located 500m from the shopping centre, is 7 hectares of coastal littoral rainforest. Suddenly, within 10 minutes, you are caught in a realm where giant Morton Bay Fig trees dominate tangles of clinging vines and from whose branches the raucous voices of thousands of flying foxes are heard. The brush is alive with birds and some native marsupials, however these are best spotted at night. Wingham Brush has undergone a slow regeneration process over recent years with the loving assistance of thoughtful townspeople to ensure the Brush is to remain an attraction to be visited by many in the years to come. The Brush is located adjacent the Manning River and picnic tables, BBQ and boat launching facilities make this a great spot for a picnic. Accommodation is available in Wingham in motel or hotels. Restaurants and clubs provide the evening entertainment in a town that once you’ve visited, you’ll be sure to return time and time again.
The Great Lakes Hinterland includes the towns of Nabiac, Failford, Stroud, Booral, Coolongolook and Wootton. It is also home to the scenic state forests of Chichester, Nerong, Myall River, Bulahdelah, Karuah, Bachelor and Wang Wauk.
Stroud, located on the foothills of the Barrington Tops, has one of the finest collections of convict constructions in Australia. Founded in 1826, the town is dominated by Silo Hill; its eight underground silos once held 10,000 bushels of grain. One silo remains open and visitors can descend the 20 foot steel ladder. Stroud has a small shopping centre, sporting facilities, a country club and some accommodation including retreats. Fishing, canoeing and swimming are popular. North of the town you’ll find Monkerai Bridge, the oldest timber truss bridge in New South Wales. It was built in 1877.
Nabiac, on the Pacific Highway, is a small village with several art and craft galleries. The most recent being the Amish Country Barn owned by Australia’s first and only Amish Mennonite family.
Just three and a half hours drive north of Sydney, Gloucester is central to three great canoeing rivers – the Barrington, Barnard and Manning. The upper sections of the Barrington are popular with experienced canoeists while the lower sections are ideal for novices. The Barnard is a great touring river, joining the Manning River at Bretti Reserve before flowing on to Taree.
Bulahdelah Mountain Forest Park, once mined for alunite, contains a scenic picnic area, old mine workings and walking trails along the old trolley lines. The Grandis is the tallest tree in New South wales – 176 metre Flooded Gum. You can get to it via the Pacific Highway or from The lakes Way. O’Sullivan’s Gap Flora Reserve covers 320 hectares and includes a circular 20 minute walking trail, picnic and rest area, toilets and water. Shorty’s Camp Picnic Area was an early camp for road construction workers. Nearby Stony Knob Fire Tower offers panoramic views. Wang Wauk Forest Drive is 38 kilometres long and winds through magnificent stands of flooded gums and other forest hardwoods. Nerong State Forest covers 8,200 hectares and includes many roads and trails for exploration. Ferny Creek Forest Park on the western bank of the Wallingat River, has a boat ramp, pier and picnic facilities. Myall River State Forest is a mountainous 17,650 hectares with spectacular views, campsites, and mountains.
Horse lovers are able to follow mountain trails overlooking deep green valleys and rainforests with abundant flora and fauna. Perhaps enjoy a campout, yarning around the camp fire with a mug of billy tea before tucking in for a sleep under the stars. You can also enjoy this magnificent terrain from the comfort of your car. There are many scenic drives with suggested stop offs for a barbeque or picnic, nature walks and vista points.
Gloucester Falls Walk is an easy one hour walk which takes you through a variety of vegetation types and offers some scenic views of the Gloucester River Valley. Sub-alpine vegetation is the main vegetation between Gloucester Falls carpark and the Andrew Laurie Lookout where the Snow Gums and Mountain Gums are gradually replaced by Brown Barrels and Messmates.
From the Andrew Laurie Lookout and Gloucester Falls Lookout the wet eucalypt forest dominates. Past the Fall’s Lookout, along the river, the track follows the edge of a Beech forest where mosses and lichens grow on rocks and logs.
Antarctic Beech Forest Walk are in fact two walks – an easy 20 minute one and a moderate 90 minute one. The sheltered slopes, moist gullies and creeks along this walk are covered by Antarctic Beech forest (Cool Temperate Rainforest). Dominated by the Beech, the understorey consists mainly of Soft Tree Ferns and a ground cover of smaller ferns, mosses and lichens. Wildlife abounds here – Brush Turkey’s, the Eastern Whipbird, Bowerbirds, the Olive Whistler, Rufous Scrub Bird, Tiger Cat, Native Bush Rat, Marsupial Mice, Platypus, Swamp Wallabies, Bandicoots and Possums.
River Walk is an easy one hour which generally follows the Gloucester River. It takes you through the sub-alpine woodlands, where Snow Gums and Mountain Gums dominate, and wetlands where low growing reeds, sphagnum moss and other water plants thrive. The sub-alpine woodlands are home to Grey Kangaroos, Swamp Wallabies and Red-necked Wallabies. The birdlife includes Kookaburras and Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos. You may be lucky enough to see a small skink lizard basking in the sun on the rocks beside the trail.
Barrington Tops Forest Drives & Walks – The scenic drive across the Barrington Tops between Gloucester and Scone forms a direct link between the Upper Hunter and the coast. It’s a popular road for tourists but is also used by logging trucks transporting hardwood logs.
Cobark Forest Park is 50 kilometres from Gloucester. There’s a moderate grade 70 minute walking trail which leads from the Cobark Forest Park to shady negrohead beech rainforest. Trees along the trail and around the picnic site have been identified for the benefit of visitors. Toilets are located in the picnic area.
The Moppy Lookout is 54 kilometres from Gloucester and surveys the rugged eastern escarpment of the Barrington Tops Plateau and is a popular picnic site with a 30 minute moderate grade walking trail through scenic negrohead beech rainforest. Negrohead beech dominates rainforests in high rainfall and high altitude sites in northern New South Wales.
Honeysuckle, 56 kilometres from Gloucester, is a 20 minute walk classfied easy to moderate and takes you through Beech forest and hardwood with large banksias.
Polblue, 70 kilometres from Gloucester where the altitude exceeds 1400 metres, is a moderate walk which takes 70 minutes. It loops around Sphagnum Swamp and through Snow Gum and other hardwoods and quite often you can see brumbies grazing. The camping area has a community shelter and toilets.
The Firs Walk – Beginning from the Firs Picnic Area, 75 kilometres from Gloucester, the 20 minute walk is easy and leads through a trial planting of pine species which are exotic to Australia. Radiata Pine, Mexican Pine, Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir were planted here in the 1960s on a trial basis. Lyrebirds frequent this area and feed on insects in the pine needles litter.
Dingo Gate – This point marks the western boundary of the Stewarts Brook State Forest and the western edge of the Barrington Tops Plateau. The rugged escarpment into the Hunter Valley is most picturesque from the Moonan Lookout. A short 10 minute walk from the Dingo Gate leads along a fence and into an area of messmate that was logged in 1968. It’s a good example of successful regeneration by the State Forest Commission. By the way, the Dingo Gate and fence is to keep wild dogs in the forest so they will not cause stock damage on adjoining properties.
Woko National Park (30 kilometres from Gloucester)covers an area of 4,500 hectares. It includes a wide variety of vegetation and spectacular features. Visitors can drive right to campsites on the edge of the Manning River which provides ample clean water. A short but steep walk away are soaring rock faces with many varieties of epiphydic plants. Three types of rainforest occur within a days walk as well as wet and dry scherophyll forest. This variety produces a wide range of bird species. There is also a variety of habitats particularly for the fauna and mammals. Facilities include Pit toilets, Fireplaces, Firewood, & Camping Area.
Activities include Camping, Swimming, & Bushwalking – the 30 minute Scrub Turkey Walk & the 2 hour Cliff Walk-over.