Dan Buckley shares his tips for making the most of just one day in beautiful Gloucester. But if you’re staying the weekend then you can stretch this out across two days and double your enjoyment. Plus you’ll get a sleep-in!
Spending just one day in Gloucester is hard, as there are plenty of things to do. So let’s assume you’ve arrived the previous night and are rested and ready to go…
1. Get up early and do the Buccan Buccans Scenic Walk. You’ll get up close and personal with these striking rocky outcrops overlooking Gloucester. The views are best in the early morning with the sun rising above the Mograni Range on the other side of the valley and the effort is totally worth it. Pick up a brochure and a town map from the helpful staff at Gloucester Visitor Information Centre.
2. Head into town for breakfast at a local café, there are quite a few on the main street, some of them newly opened so give any of them a try.
3. If there’s a cattle sale at the Gloucester Saleyards (midweek every 3-4 weeks) go to the cattle sales and watch the local cattlemen and visiting buyers wheel and deal. You’ll love the auctioneer with his strange language and gestures and the other saleyard characters. Don’t miss having a cuppa at the Red Cross canteen with the lovely ladies serving of tea, cake and fresh cut sandwiches, it’s the bargain of the year!
4. Drive up to Faulls Ridge Vineyard on the ridge above Gloucester and enjoy the beautiful setting. Debbie and John Faull will take you through a tasting of their 100% Gloucester-grown wine selection. Best to book ahead. Pick up a bottle of their tasty chambourcin red wine or their cheeky rose to enjoy with your dinner.
5. On the way back to your accommodation,stop into Avon Valley Meatson Church Street and talk to local butcher Dave Fraser about what steaks he has. I can heartily recommend the large Cattleman’s Cut, it’s enormous and can be shared between two people. Dave can even tell you the breed of cattle and the local farm that it has come from. Now that’s service you don’t often get.
6. Grab some lunch, maybe at one of the two pubs in town, they each have a bistro with very tasty offerings. Then finish the rest of the shopping for your barbecue dinner at the locally-owned Lovey’s IGA, also on Church Street.
7. Back to your accommodation for some rest and relaxation (hopefully at The Ridge Gloucester, at the main house or the eco cabin!).
8. Early afternoon you can go for a scenic drive. For an easy drive close to town, I recommend the scenic loop via Barrington village and Rocky Crossing on the Barrington River. This a great choice for an afternoon drive with the craggy features of the western side of the Buccan Buccans lit by the afternoon sun. Can you see the sleeping giant? Pick up a brochure for the Buccan Buccans Circuit scenic drive from the information centre and also ask about the river levels, as this route has several river crossings using concrete causeways so be very cautious during high water events.
9. Back at your accommodation you can settle in around the outdoor fire pit (if you have one) to enjoy the sunset before cooking your barbecue dinner.
10. After dinner you may be feeling like an early night (it’s all this fresh country air!) but before heading for bed, why not toast some marshmallows over the embers of the fire and watch the Milky Way slowly appearabove your heads. You won’t see it like this in the big cities. Can you find the Southern Cross?
Are you staying two days? Lucky you! Here are some recommendations to fill those extra precious hours:
11. Take your mountain bike for a whirl on the purpose-built trails at The Steps Mountain Bike Park. There's 3.5km of cross-country trails alongside the beautiful Barrington River at The Steps Barrington Campground. You can easily fill a morning or afternoon here, and bring your swimmers for a cool-off in the river. Day use fees apply.
12. You want some challenging mountain biking? Then head to the brand new Barrington Bike Park,the only North Shore Vancouver-style mountain bike park in NSW. Under the rainforest canopy, drop into epic gravity trails guaranteed to make you feel alive. Closer to the coast you can also try Kiwarrak Mountain Bike Park near Taree with 70km of forested mountain bike flow trails. It’s the perfect place for everyone with easy trails for beginners and technical trails and structures for the shredders.
13. Head to Ellenborough Falls to get your spin class sensation without the bike! There are plenty of viewing options to see the best of Ellenborough Fallsbut the hardest and the best is all the way to the bottom... 641 steps down and then back up again. Can you feel the burn yet?
15. Walks in Gloucester Tops are rightfully famous, you'll feel like you're on the movie set for Lord Of The Rings: deep green forests of Antarctic beech, secret mossy cascades and Gloucester Falls where the Gloucester River tumbles off the high plateau.