The Corker trail is a hard mountain track located in world-heritage listed Barrington Tops National Park. The variety of gums totally captivated me. The area is part of an ancient volcano characterised by pockets of subtropical rainforest, sub-alpine wetlands, snow gum woodlands and is home to the unique Antarctic beech rainforest.
Dungog/Gloucester, New South Wales, Australia
3 days/2 nights with a full pack (40kms)
Option to do day hike if only doing Corker Trail
The sign says it all. The Corker trail is a hard mountain track with scenic views, from Lagoon Pinch to Careys Peak, in Barrington Tops National Park near Dungog.
According to the information displayed at the start of the Corker Trail, “At lower elevation (300 to 800m altitude) you will see a mix of wet sclerophyll forest and subtropical rainforest dominated by Sydney blue gum, turpentine, red cedar, and corkwood.
At higher altitude (1200-1500m) brown barrel and messmate replace the blue gum. And Antarctic beech also dominate large stands of cool temperature rainforest.
At over 1300m altitude, snow gum, mountain gum and mountain ribbon gum trees dominate the vegetation as part of an open forest environment with a snow grass understorey.
On the Barrington Plateau at the very edge of the alpine swamps, you find Eucalyptus stellulata, a mallee tree, commonly known as black sally, together with sub-alpine grassland and wetland communities home to a variety of rare plants found only on the Barrington Tops and the threatened native broad-tooth rat.”
Who walked with me?
I did this walk with two other keen hikers from my local walking group who were not afraid to carry a full pack and get dirty in this varied forest terrain.
How long does it take?
It took us nearly three hours with me puffing the entire way, but as the Corker Information sign suggests, most reasonably fit hikers should be able to ascend in less than five hours. Having completed the Pacific Crest Trail a year prior, I thought myself capable of this steady ascent, but it lacked the gentle switchback approach. It was a constant, straight, steep climb to Wombat Creek Campground where we set up camp for two nights. Definitely a Grade 5 hike.
When we descended two days later, we reached the base in two hours. It still requires concentration. It gave our quads a good workout and you need to be careful of scree and plenty of loose-leaf matter. I admit I took a spectacular fall but bounced back, hopefully avoiding other’s observation while they admired this view.
On our second day we chose a route of 22kms which took in Careys Peak, including the historic Careys Hut, Mt Barrington (a somewhat sheltered peak obscured by towering gums), Edward and Black Swamps, Junction Pools, Barrington River and a return to our campsite.
We enjoyed a delightful bushwalking day taking in parrots, black cockatoos, wedge-tailed eagles, wallabies and even a few wild brumbies.
The variety of gums totally captivated me. The towering Sydney blue gums with their white trunks reaching to 40m; mountain grey gums, up to 35m with their reddish trunks shedding grey bark; manna gums with white trunks and often rough bark at their base; the splotchy marked socketwood; beech trees and the snow gums with their twisting, appealing trunks. Delicate wildflowers were still around late Spring such as the erect annual herb, golden everlasting, with its large stiff flower bracts found in white, cream, or yellow, and an introduced species, English broom, a 2-3m shrub in full bright yellow bloom.
The weather bureau forecast a major front with severe rain and a drop in temperature. We stayed. Thankfully, we awoke to dry tents. It is always a bonus if you can pack up camp in dry conditions. Not wanting to chance our luck, we breakfasted quickly and were away by 7am, descending much faster than we expected.
A dirty, tiresome, road trip with a maximum speed limit of 25km/hr in our 2WD cars followed before we exited the park. We zipped into Dungog for a refreshing second breakfast and were grateful the weather held off until our two-hour freeway journey home.
Full packs with a tent, adequate sleep system, and full provisions. We only needed a 2-day supply of food, but with a decent water carry on the way up and every other necessity, including both warm and wet weather gear, it easily adds up. There is plenty of water once you reach Wombat Creek Campground, but you must bring adequate filtration or water treatment tablets to guarantee safe drinking water.
Wombat Creek Campground is spacious with plenty of good level campsites and fire rings for several groups to gather in their own private space. Check the National Parks site here for maximum numbers allowed, any COVID restrictions, and other facilities information.
What are the track conditions?
Good, but always changeable with varying weather. A lot of it is fire trail, but other sections resemble a narrow animal path. With the towering vegetation, the trail gets plenty of leaf litter and there are a lot of uneven root-riddled areas, but an average hiker will be able to handle these conditions.
It is a 3-hour drive from Sydney via Dungog with 40-50 minutes of the journey leading to the start of the Corker Trail being a very slow, dusty, pot-holed, and deeply fissured dirt road. 2WDs can cope but 4WDs would be preferable.