National Park is an area of contrasts, with sub-alpine woodland on the upland plateau and World Heritage
subtropical rainforests in the lower valleys. Most of the area is declared wilderness, with wild and scenic rivers and winter snow-caps. The park is set within about 38,705 hectares and consists of two linked plateaus, which are called Barrington and Gloucester Tops. They fall away steeply from a maximum height above sea level of 1,586 metres. The region does not have a surrounding or internal network of roads to allow easy access between different areas.
There are numerous state forests surrounding the Barrington Tops
area, which are used extensively for timber production and recreational activities. Camping is permitted anywhere except at day picnic areas and some camp sites such as Polblue, Gummi Falls, Little Murray and Devils Hole have good facilities with pit toilets, barbeques, tables, etc. There are short and interesting walks at Gloucester Tops where you will see Antarctic beech forests, snow gum woodlands and scenic waterfalls. At Williams River and Jerusalem Creek there are nice and easy walks through rainforest and tall blue gums.
There are hundreds of kilometres of forest roads and fire trails open to 4WD enthusiasts and conventional vehicles can use many of the forest roads. The Barrington Trail (the 4WD trail from Barrington Tops
Forest Road to Mount Barrington) is closed each year between 1st June and 30th September. This and other trails may be closed at other times of year, as a result of weather conditions such as high rainfall or snow. Also, logging vehicles do use these tracks so care needs to be taken on the narrow winding roads - give way to loggers!
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The Barrington Tops
National Park is rich in wildlife diversity mainly due to the fact the park’s altitude goes from near sea level to over 1500m and the terrain ranges from flat to steep ridges and gorges. Old-growth rainforests and tall eucalypt forests dominate the park. Some of these tree species include: Antarctic beech, red cedar and Sydney blue gum. Most of the plateau swamps are surrounded by tussock grassland, dominated by snow grass. Small shrubs and herbs grow among the clumps of snow grass. Many of them flower in springtime such as the sun orchids.
High in the tree canopy is home to many species of animals including: brushtail and ringtail possums, greater gliders and squirrel gliders or yellow-bellied glider, both of which are threatened in NSW. Birds that can be seen are: Lewin's honeyeaters, crimson rosellas, yellow-tailed black cockatoos, kookaburras and even wedge-tailed eagles. Plenty of mammals live on the ground in the park's rainforests and wet eucalypt forests which are home to a number of kangaroos, wallabies, pademelons and long-nosed potoroos. Most of the park's reptiles are only active in the warmer months. The most commonly seen reptile is probably the eastern water dragon, which hunts and basks on rocks around the streams.
The Aboriginal occupation of Barrington Tops
is recorded in oral history, and in the presence of Aboriginal sites including: open campsites with stone artefacts, scarred trees, ceremonial places
and mythological sites recorded in dreaming stories. Today, Barrington Tops
National Park and State Conservation Area are important to today's Worimi, Biripi and Wonnarua communities, as an intact part of Aboriginal country.
There were a lot of protests over logging and road-building in this region, even during World War II. Through the 1950s, pressure for a national park grew - though others were pushing for more development. In 1959, the government decided to set aside two small areas, one on Gloucester Tops and the other in the Williams River area. The state forest system was also expanded, until finally, in 1969 Barrington Tops
National Park was created from around 14,000 hectares of Crown land.
From the 1970s to the 1990s, an intense community debate developed over whether the remaining native forests of NSW should be used for timber production or protected for conservation. Forest areas were progressively withdrawn from logging and added to the national park system with the rainforests being protected first and then the eucalypt forests. The park was enlarged by major additions in 1984, 1997 and 1999. It was listed as World Heritage
in 1986, and the Barrington Wilderness was declared in 1999. Barrington Tops
State Conservation Area was created in 2000.