This was my first visit back to Copeland since it had been officially opened (see general tips) so I was interested to see just how it looked.
One thing I couldn't help but notice this time is the proliferation of birds nest ferns. Perhaps it was the rays of sunlight upon them that made them stand out but they were almost worth the trip alone.
Another thing I dwelt on was just how there's no undergrowth in this "dry rainforest"; so called because it's a scree slope and small plants just don't have the roots to go down further.
It was also dry this time because there hadn't been a lot of rain in recent times.
There was only one mine here that really made a go of it, the Mountain Maid but you can still see a few of the shafts of the others here and there.
There's also an excellent boardwalk that's used for guided tours, along with excellent toilet facilities.
Don't expect much at Moonan Flat which is located alongside the river that feeds into Lake Glenbawn, it is one of the smallest villages in the Upper Hunter. It is picturesque though, and has vineyards in the surrounding area. .
This little village is old, being built to serve the goldminers years ago. Evidently, "Thunderbolt," the Bushranger, called in at the Victoria Hotel, and it was also a stop on the famous Cobb & Co. Coach route.
This is the last stop for fuel if heading from Scone towards Gloucester
This is a pretty picnic/FREE camping area beside the Barnard River. We came across it on the road that leads from Gloucester to Walcha [Thunderbolts Way] a lovely scenic drive.
There were BBQ & toilet facilities, and you would be able to go swimming and canoeing, the water looking very enticing, and would be a nice spot on a hot day.
If you come here from Gloucester, it is a 66k return trip.
The Bucketts Circle is a 30km Return (19km sealed & 11km unsealed) scenic drive we did. Crossing the Gloucester River several times, all the way we had good views of the unusually shaped Bucketts Mountain Range. On the Faulkland section of the road, there is a picnic area, and you will also see the historic Faulkland House.
If you have a car, take the time to do this journey!
On the Gloucester to Nowendoc section of Thunderbolt's Way there's a lookout givng about a 200 degree panorama.
Every time I've passed by the light or conditions have never been quite right but one day I'll get the shot I'm after. The opening shot is about the best I've been able to manage.
In the meantime I pulled up the other day with drifting mist and rain thwarting my efforts yet again but, while there, I noticed some lovely growth on the freshly cleared slope just below the lookout. (pics 2 & 3)
With the misty conditions it stood out so I scrambled down the slope and took a few shots.
I've also included a shot of the overview (pic 4) in case you were doubting my claims about the conditions. It was taken during an ever-so-brief gap in the clouds.
The last view yet again shows how beautiful the countryside is in this region. It was taken not far from the Bretti Reserve turn off
"A good walk spoilt" is a famous quote used when referring to golf. I, for one, can concur with this statement.
Having said that if you get to play a round at the nine hole Gloucester course you'll find it hard not to enjoy.
This course has expansive views over the Bucketts, rising beyond rich dairy cattle lands, although that industry is in the doldrums at the moment.
I have loved several rounds that I have played there and, on one occasion, happened to win a prize for coming third in a golf tournament. I have no trouble remembering that because it's the only time I ever won anything in golf.
This course is tended by a man who treats it as his life's work and the quality of the greens reflects that love.
I've been going through Gloucester for over thirty years with work and it hasn't changed a lot. Sure, some of the buildings might have changed their usage and ownership may have passed hands but, from the outside at least, you'd readily recognized the place if you hadn't been there for years.
A coat of paint (pic 1) on the local hotel, the Avon Valley on this occasion, and a few trees getting a bit taller (pic 2) but that's about it.
It's in the middle of a drought. A drought labelled by one of those in authority as a "One in a thousand year drought". While they were fermenting policies in air conditioned rooms in the nation's capital something happened. It rained.
Not totally drought saving and not everywhere, but it rained significant moisture in places. As you can see from these accompanying pictures, there was certainly enough to get the rivers running again.
In many places the farmers realised the 2006 season had some hope and, speaking for myself, I'd been in the places where I was talking to these people and, when I was there in 1994, it was worse, much worse.
While our group at the time stood there I watched lambs falling over dead in the paddock within 100 metres of me. Literally. As you can gather, it's not something I forgot in a hurry.
Those images will haunt me to the grave. 2006 never really got close to those images.
None of which means it is perfect, but there is some hope as you can clearly see in this pictorial of the Little Manning River.
This is merely a sample, albeit an enticing one, of the type of places you can camp by the river in the area.
Rather obviously it's called Bretti Reserve and it's located just off Thunderbolts Way. Following is the official blurb:
"Bretti Reserve: Approx 25 minutes from Gloucester. Primitive toilet facilities. River close by, good for swimming. Reasonably large areas. Pets allowed under control. Free (CV)."
This is one of the things I love about Australia. You can go to places like this for nothing. Imagine that, elsewhere in the world you would be slugged. It's not the only site in region so, if you're into this sort of thing, start packing.
Mid 19th century, many Aborigines still populated the area. They camped and held corroborees on the future townsite and helped the early settlers at harvest time. Annually they met at Gloucester before heading off to Stroud where they were issued with a blanket apiece.
The noted bushranger, 'Captain Thunderbolt' (Fred Ward) hid out at Gloucester Tops in the mid-1860s. Today, a modern sealed road goes through the rugged area and is named after him. Though he escaped when the police discovered his hideout in 1866, his wife, two children and another woman were taken to Gloucester and on to Maitland where the women were released but the children were sent to a government institution.
Alluvial gold was discovered to the west of Gloucester in 1872, but it was amazingly kept secret until 1876 when a rush started. Underground mining started in 1877 and, at the height of the rush in the latter half of the 19th century, nearly 3000 people were digging in the area on 51 reefs which yielded 566 kg of gold. Half of that was uncovered in 1879 alone. Today there is still a gold mine you can visit.
After the turn of the century the AAC sold its property to the Gloucester Estate Syndicate who cleared the land, drew up the town subdivision and sold allotments. In 1905 the 'Gloucester Advocate' went into print and two hotels were built, a school of arts went up and construction began of other businesses and houses. Cattle and timber sustained the local industry although dairying was coming into its own and it wasn't long (1906) before the Barrington Butter factory opened and the Gloucester Shire Council held its first meeting.
The pictures clearly show the lush pastures that sustain what is left of the dairy industry after the deregulation just before the end of the 20th century.
The arrival of the railway in 1915 precipitated further growth and established Gloucester as a service centre.
One thing that Gloucester isn't short of is rivers. They flow in a multitude of directions off the escarpment and feed three different valleys.
If riverside scenery is your thing, you'll be in heaven in this part of the world.
Not surprisingly, canoeing is very popular here and you can either bring your own or hire one from a couple of places that do just that.
One of the better known launch area is around the hamlet of Barrington that is around 10 kms west of Gloucester.
It's just after Barrington that you can turn right and head up Thunderbolts Way, named after a famous bushranger that used to frequent the area. Funny, isn't it, how we celebrate the criminals yet forget the people who put their lives on the line to catch them.
I digress, this road was only finally sealed all the way in the 21st century and has become a favourite with motorcyclists who seem to crash with monotonous regularity. So much so that they've erected a sign warning motorcyclists that "This is not Eastern Creek" (a famous racetrack in Australia). It is on this road that some of the finest scenery is to be seen, not that the motorcyclists would know.
It is here that I took all of these photos, mainly of the Little Manning River. The second one, in places, looks like a painting.
Kattang Aborigines were the human inhabitants until explorer Henry Dangar wandered through in 1826. Dangar is a famous name in early white history in this area and they used to have large land holdings in the Hunter Valley region.
Robert Dawson wasn't far behind. He was manager of the Australian Agricultural Company whose reason for being was to corner the market in wool and agricultural products that would be exported back to the mother country.
The one million acres on the northern side of Port Stephens that the company had been allocated was a good start and Dawson was so overcome by the "romantic scenery '' of the river valley, he set up an outstation which he named Gloucester after the English town due to the similarity of the landscape.
It wasn't long before both the Gloucester and Avon valleys were soon full of AAC sheep and a dairy was established, mainly for the use of employees.
John Dunmore Lang, a travelling churchman, noted in 1851 that 'Gloucester is one of the best sites for an inland town I have ever seen in the colony. A range of picturesque mountains, called by the aborigines, the Buccans, of about 1200 feet in height, bounds the horizon to the westward. Along the base of these mountains, the River Gloucester wends its way to the northward, leaving a large extent of alluvial land on its right bank, which the Company has cleared and brought into cultivation; the site of the buildings that form the station, including a house of accommodation for travellers, being on a rising ground to the eastward of the alluvial flats. It is altogether a beautiful spot in the wilderness'.
And this is what it still is today, albeit with changing fortunes as to what industry sustains the area.
Lawlers Creek RoadMonkerai Valley, Gloucester, New
Good for: Couples
384 Jems Creek Rd, , Barrington Tops, Cobark, 2422, Australia
Good for: Couples