Snowfall a huge draw to Barrington Tops

Draw for tourists: Barrington Tops is a major winner according to MidCoast Council. Photo: Rob Eggins.
Draw for tourists: Barrington Tops is a major winner according to MidCoast Council. Photo: Rob Eggins.

This might be an obvious remark but snowfall at Barrington Tops is a huge draw for tourists and locals. On the back of decent falls in the past fortnight, hundreds of people flocked to the tops to catch a glimpse of the winter wonderland. The lure of the snow hasn't gone unnoticed.

MidCoast Council's destination management coordinator Sharon Bultitude said Barrington Tops is a crucial part of promotion for the local government area.

"We are promoting our area to visitors as the Barrington Coast, so yes, the Barrington Tops is extremely important in telling the destination brand story and how we market the region to visitors," Sharon said.

"It's the western most point of our destination and helps visitors to locate the region geographically. It is already a very well-known attraction in the area so we can capitalise on its profile to help promote the whole of the Mid Coast."

The attraction of snow brings a strong economic benefit to the valley.

"Snow events in the Barrington provides a significant direct economic boost to towns like Gloucester and Stroud which both see an increase in day and, importantly, overnight stays at these times. The snow falls also provide the opportunity to increase awareness of the Barrington Coast in general," Sharon said.

This increased awareness was demonstrated by activity on the Destination Barrington Coast social media pages.

Winter wonderland: Aydn, Oliver and Ryli Schofield at the Polblue campgrounds with Wazza the Snowman. Photo: Craig and Kerri Schofield.

Winter wonderland: Aydn, Oliver and Ryli Schofield at the Polblue campgrounds with Wazza the Snowman. Photo: Craig and Kerri Schofield.

The Facebook page received 298,000 impressions during the four day period of snow, which was a 90 per cent increase on the previous four day weekend periods.

Eighty-five per cent of those reached with snow content were outside of Barrington Coast boundaries. The majority of these were from Sydney (33 per cent) and Newcastle (28 per cent).

Posts in relation to snow received 29,000 engagements (a 165 per cent increase), and included 1100 comments. These engagements topped those of popular spot Byron Bay by 14,000 in a one-week period.

The extra traffic ensured coastal and other key experiences would receive attention. The Tops falls under several key strategies to advertise the region to tourists.

"The Barrington Tops is integral to how we promote the destination to visitors. From our overall vision and mission to our target markets (women travellers, active families, health and well-being, active 55 year olds and older and younger adults) and strategic experience pillars which underpin our destination management plan (DMP) including 'Celebrating Culture on Country' and 'Natural Adventure'.

"National Parks and Wildlife Service is an important partner in delivering on the DMP and is a member of council's Barrington Coast Destination Management Reference Group.

"One of our key tourism objectives is to increase visitor dispersal around the region. Barrington Tops offers our coastal visitors a fantastic day trip to experience something different during their stay and of course, visitors to the Barrington and Gloucester area can also drive across the enjoy the coast for the day.

"It all provides more reasons for these visitors to return. If we can increase visitor satisfaction, we hope they will visit more often, increase the length of their stays, which all helps increase spend in our area," Sharon said.

Play time: This Tasmanian devil enjoyed the snow at Barrington Tops' Aussie Ark conservation facility. Photo: Aussie Ark.

Play time: This Tasmanian devil enjoyed the snow at Barrington Tops' Aussie Ark conservation facility. Photo: Aussie Ark.

It's not just the snow that makes the Tops so special. Aboriginal history and the rainforests are just as important.

"The rainforests of Barrington Tops National Park are of international significance, forming part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.

"Carved out of ancient volcanic flows, the park rises from near sea level to over 1500 metres and protects one of the largest temperate rainforests in mainland Australia, along with a host of diverse habitats and wide range of birds and animals.

"Visitors can potentially build a snowman in the mountains and a sandcastle on the coast in the same day," Sharon said.

Barrington Tops National Park will also celebrate its 50th birthday this year.

"There are a number of activities planned for the end of the year to mark this milestone," Sharon said.

Brand name pays dividends

A year on from the creation of branding name 'Barrington Coast', MidCoast Council has recognised the boost of tourists. According to the 2018 North Coast Value of Tourism report, the area was the highest on the North Coast for total visitations.

Wary drivers: Snow chasers took every precaution while travelling to the tops. Photo: Simon Burrell.

Wary drivers: Snow chasers took every precaution while travelling to the tops. Photo: Simon Burrell.

This equated to 2.23 million people or a year on year increase of 9.3 per cent. Overnight stays rated the second highest on the North Coast at 4.3 million people and a year on year increase of 17.1 per cent.

Social media content reaches 21,000 people per day, compared to 7000 under the former destination names.

Barrington Coast has surpassed Port Stephens, Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour to be the most followed and engaged social media accounts on the North Coast. This is also higher than popular spot Byron Bay.

Cross promotion has grown under the name, such as advertisement of the snow at Barrington Tops in the Manning and Great Lakes.