Due to the lower rainfall this year, Gloucester Environment Group walkers have enjoyed monthly walks every month in 2023.  

Barrington Tops in January was a highlight when we included the short Poleblue Swamp Loop.  Being adventurous we decided on a mid-Winter’s Sunday in July to go The Tops again.

A small group drove up to a sunny Poleblue Swamp picnic area.  Our lunch-time stop was planned for Little Murray Campsite, about 6 kilometres away.

After about a kilometre we left the Swamp and headed south along the fire trail.  We could see evidence of the clearing done by National Parks of the Scotch Broom that has severely encroached in the area.  Further on, Mistake Ridge Trail on our left was signposted.  But the Trail is completely lost by the weed infestation.

We had morning tea beside the Poleblue Trail.  The leading walkers had disturbed about half a dozen feral horses, the family of a black stallion annoyed by our presence.  

We were becoming increasingly aware just how disturbed this part of the National Park was. Either side of the Poleblue Trail, the forest, including gums and Pepperbush was thick with Scotch Broom and Blackberry.  Piles of horse manure and soil dug up by feral pigs were a continuous reminder of the challenges facing the Park.

Poleblue Trail joins Barrington Trail, which is available for 4WD vehicles between October and May.  We had the road to ourselves as we descended to Little Murray Campsite.  More horses headed off as we sat at one of the picnic tables.  The Campsite has large areas of grassland that is level and no doubt a great place to car camp in warmer months.

After lunch, our guide took us on a loop back to the Barrington Trail.  We followed Narrow Plain Trail out of the Campsite.  Walking was fairly easy apart from some wet patches we stepped around.

We arrived back at Poleblue Swamp mid-afternoon.  In the end the walk covered a little over 16 kilometres.

Visiting Barrington Tops National Park is a sobering lesson in the huge impact that feral plants and animals are having on this unique high-altitude environment. Various plans are in place but at best the Scotch Broom is only being contained within parts of the Park.  Drastic action is needed to eliminate the feral horses and pigs. 

GEG encourages everybody to visit our National Parks and see the good and the bad in the reserves set aside for our enjoyment.  Let the Parks Service and elected representatives know of your concerns before some things we take for granted are changed forever.  You can take direct action, even volunteer for help controlling Scotch Broom and supporting organisations like the Invasive Species Council and National Parks Association.

One must wonder whether unless urgent action is taken, the world heritage listing of this area might be under threat. 

Tibor Kovats

(Gloucester Environment Group)

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