I was on my way to Taree along the Bucketts Way. It was early morning and mist shrouded the valleys. This was classic Gloucester weather and I couldn't help but stop and take some pictures en route.
Fondest memory: It's such picturesque country you can take any drive out of the town and get some wonderful sights. Going on some of the side dirt roads can also be fruitful if you're into photography. I hope these pictures reflect on some of the opportunities you can avail yourself of.
Mountain Maid mine is at Copeland, not too far out of Gloucester.
Once it was a scene of a gold rush, as many inland Australian towns were but, sadly, Copeland today is but a remnant of its former self. About 10 houses remain from a population of over 2,000.
They are set in a picturesque lush hillside setting.
Fondest memory: However, a small remnant has just been re-opened to the public. It is the Mountain Maid mine and it the baby of Terry (see pic), a friend of mine in the National Parks and Wildlife. He gave me a guided tour of the new site and its well constructed boardwalks. It takes you through what is known as a dry rainforest. That doesn't actually mean it's dry, simply that the scree slopes don't allow primary growth so what you see is moss laden rocks and fallen trees on the forest floor.
The old mine is the main attraction though and it's a mine that yielded 471 kilograms of gold in its first ten years of production. In fact, there's still gold there but not in profitable enough quantities.
Today the site, set at the end of a narrow valley is available by guided tour though the website and phone number weren't available at the time I wrote this.
There are some old machinery remnants, including the boiler (see pic 2) that came cascading down the hill from the Centurion battery above. Apparently they didn't want anyone else using it so it was simply heaved down the hill. There are also some stampers and races.
Food will also be available here though we're probably not talking 5 star gourmet.
The whole thing should take about 1 hour and it's an interesting insight into the trouble and difficulty miners had to put up with in the 19th century.
Up in Gloucester Tops you can still tread where man has not gone before. There are streams as yet unnamed, plants as yet unseen. This is true wilderness in parts.
Fondest memory: So it was that the second time I went exploring I pushed beyond where I had gone before and managed to get down another two levels before I was stopped by a narrow canyon with precipitous walls (pic 4).
It was rugged going and, in the end, I climbed up the steep slope beneath the lookout to get to safety. Beyond where I was stopped the water falls for hundreds of metres but this area has rarely, if ever, been seen by man. It's one of my projects to try and see some of it while I still can.
The countryside around Gloucester is just wonderful and the Beech Forest walk is yet another fine example of that.
To access it you need to travel to Gloucester Tops, it's one of the three walks there.
Fondest memory: The start of the walk is in open forest but it quickly descends into the rainforest of the moisture laden slopes that makes the valleys below so fertile.
Ferns abound and vines writhe their way in between. This is not a place to go too far off the trail. The sound of rushing water is with you for a long time as the stream gurgles in the gully beside you, sometimes visible, sometimes not.
The whole walk only takes around an hour.
It's an enchanting world that frees the mind and refreshes the soul. I hope these photos give you some idea of just how nice it is.
Gloucester Falls, or at least the access to them, had been denied for over a year due to washaways creating major problems with the main road, actually the only road, in.
You have to bear in mind before you get there that Gloucester Falls are aptly named. There isn't just one waterfall. There are probably over a dozen serious ones (I saw four) and scores of cascades. The problem is that the terrain is very rugged and finding routes to the water isn't easy but it can be done.
Fondest memory: After going to the main lookout (pic 2) and seeing the appallingly bad view from that point, I retraced my steps and eventually found a spot where I determined I might be able to descend. In the end, though it was a bit rough, I managed it without too much difficulty and all the other pics you see here are a result of the off piste excursions that I took.
Frankly, unless you're prepared to do some serious bushwalking, I wouldn't recommend going here because you'll see next to nothing.
Gloucester Falls is a place I visited in my younger days. It wasn't until 2009 that I made it back again, just three weeks after they had re-opened the road following 12 months' closure.
Fondest memory: I hadn't delved too much into it during my earlier visit but I wanted to see the falls again and there had been some rain so off I went, along the scenic road before reaching Barrington Tops National Park and the climb up the dirt road.
Eventually I reached the carpark for the River Walk and stopped there.