Destination Barrington Coast invited regular visitors Kate Miles, Catherine Boyd and Rachel Dimond for a weekend of exploring and photography.
The self-described "Adventure lasses" have built a solid following on social media through their photography and documenting their travels around the globe.
Our nature loving trio spent a full day exploring Gloucester Tops before heading for the coast and a night under the stars at Lanis Holiday Island Forster.
I caught up with them on their first night at their campsite, where we chatted all things Barrington Coast and what it is that keeps them coming back.
Ben: First of all thanks for coming along for the weekend although I don’t think it took much arm twisting. Let’s start with your favourite place on the Barrington Coast and what makes it so special?
Kate Miles: For me, my favourite place is Seal Rocks. I’ve been visiting Seal Rocks since I was five years old on family holidays and we’d often come twice a year in the school holidays. I restarted the tradition of visiting Seal Rocks with the extended family five years ago and was able to bring my baby son for the first time last year which was really special. It’s a family tradition that I look forward to each year. I call it "my Seal Rocks" as it feels like a home away from home for me, it’s just beautiful. I love how it’s hardly changed over time, yet each year that I come Number 1 Beach’s looks different. One year you’ll be able to explore the rock ledges and pools of the northern end and next year it’s not accessible. Treachery Beach has also become really popular although I don’t swim there. It’s called Treachery for a reason!
"Any chance I get, I’m up the mountain and amongst it"
Catherine Boyd: Much like Kate, my childhood memories are made up of trips to the Barrington Coast, especially Barrington Tops. My first camp trip was to Gloucester River campground at Gloucester Tops and from here my love for the Barrington Tops has continued to grow.
The green forests, waterfalls, and knowing it’s the most southern section of Gondwana Rainforest in Australia makes it pretty special. Any chance I get, I’m up the mountain and amongst it. It’s just beautiful and being so accessible I just love it. It’s got a magnetic pull that’s for sure.
Rachel Dimond: It has to be Barrington Tops. The beautiful alpine swamps, the sunsets which turn everything golden. It doesn’t get much better.
I remember living in Newcastle as a uni student. Like all uni students we didn’t have much money but were always looking for somewhere new to explore. My boyfriend at the time, now my husband said the Barrington Tops looked cool and we should check it out. I remember arriving at the southern tip of the Barrington Tops and walking through the rainforest and thinking to myself how haven’t I been here before? It was an Easter long weekend and even so it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. After the Blue Gum loop trail it was getting late and I remember us jumping in the car to drive back home. The day really stoked a fire within me to keep exploring the region and I couldn’t tell you how many hikes I’ve been on since. I still remember everything about that trip to this day.
Ben: That really sounds like a transformative travel moment. One where you are changed by something you’ve experienced on a trip somewhere. Kate and Catherine do you have a similar memory of a trip to the Barrington Coast?
Catherine: I remember a trip to Ellenborough falls which just beautiful. You know, the walk around the viewing platform and down the stairs to bottom for the view up. Just magnificent. Anyway afterwards we decided to drive the loop around and entered Tapin Tops National Park. I remember the winding drive down and then the adventure on foot, crisscrossing the river before finding this waterfall (Potoroo Falls) in what seemed like the middle of nowhere.
Kate: I had a similar experience in Tapin Tops. I did some volunteer work for NSW National Parks when I was younger and they had us out in these remote locations installing wildlife monitoring equipment. One day we were sent into Tapin Tops and I remember the drive through the park just being phenomenal. I’d grown up visiting the coastal places like Forster and Seal Rocks and always went beach camping over bush. But that trip into Tapin Tops really opening my eyes, and left me with the feeling that I needed to come back and explore more. Those beautiful winding roads and being in the forest - it’s what started my desire to explore the mountains and rainforests of the region.
Rachel: There’s nothing better than walking through a rainforest in the rain. It’s still, quiet and misty. It’s got to be one of my favourite things.
Kate: Yes, I love walking in rainforests in the rain! Now that’s a transformative moment. There’s no one else around which is great. Who wants to hike in the rain? I do!
Rachel: That’s another thing around here. You’ll often see others on the trails but it’s so easy to feel like you have it all to yourself.
Kate: Totally agree. It’s something you don’t get in Sydney. Being able to come to huge National Parks, choose your own adventure and barely see another soul. If you want solitude you can find it here.
"Those beautiful winding roads and being in the forest - it’s what started my desire to explore the mountains and rainforests of the region"
Ben: Adventure travel means something different to everyone. Can you talk a bit about what it means to you?
Kate: When it comes to adventure, it’s all about curiosity for me. I like coming back to old favourites or places I love but that desire to find new areas or hidden gems and explore them really gives me the warm and fuzzies. And I think one of the best things about the Barrington Coast is that there’s just so much to discover. Even though I don’t live that far away, and travel here regularly, there’s still so much I haven’t seen. Today’s been a great example of that.
Rachel: Exactly, the adventure you want can be found here. A walk on the beach or a five day hike to a secluded area on the mountain or even seeing snow for the first time. The adventure doesn’t need to be intimidating. It can be a drive down a random road to find a campsite or lookout.
Catherine: I agree. Adventure is taking the untravelled road. You don’t know what you’re going to find, especially around here. Even today at Gloucester Tops we found some places none of us had been before even though we’d all been there so many times before.
Kate: It’s about discovering those new and hidden places but I also think it’s about sharing the adventure with others. Through photography I’ve been able to share and introduce people to some amazing places. I really love that it can give others the confidence to get out and enjoy the outdoors, maybe take some of the intimidation out of adventuring and making it more accessible.
"Adventure doesn’t need to be intimidating. It can be a drive down a random road to find a campsite or lookout"
Ben: And finally, what are you most looking forward to on your final day tomorrow?
Kate: Seeing some of the coastal places I haven’t seen before. There’s just so many beautiful beaches along the Barrington Coast.
Catherine: Yeah I’m looking forward to Burgess Beach and its natural formations and new areas like Cellito Beach. Hopefully explore some rockpools.
Kate: We’ve got our fingers crossed for some atmospheric weather and if so we’ll head into Wallingat National Park for a meandering drive in the mist and fog.
Ben: I’ve got my fingers crossed for you. Thanks for the chat!
Kate, Catherine and Rachel visited the Barrington Coast as guests of Destination Barrington Coast.
You can follow Catherine, Kate and Rachel's adventures on Instagram.