Barrington Tops gets more snow and underprepared visitors

Some tents aren't designed to cope with the weight of wet snow. Photo Sean Thompson/NPWS.
Some tents aren't designed to cope with the weight of wet snow. Photo Sean Thompson/NPWS.

When people are planning to head up to Barrington Tops to camp in the snow, they need to consider what gear they might need.

Not all tents are created equal and certainly when it comes to camping in the snow, choosing the right type of tent and sleeping bag are essential.

Some who ventured to the Barrington Tops National Park for a bit of camping these school holidays got the snow fall they were after - so much so that some were underprepared.

When snow falls and it's a little wet, it can build up on surfaces and become quite heavy, so a typical lightweight tents used for summer camping won't cut it. Also, sleeping bags are temperatures rated and many in Australia are only designed for summer, leaving people shivering when the mercury drops.

According to National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Area Manager, Barrington Tops, Anthony Signor visitors intending to camp in the snow need to be experienced and well prepared, with the right gear designed for the conditions.

In other words, it's not the thing to do unless you really know what you're doing. Otherwise it's potentially life-threatening.

Anthony Signor

"In other words, it's not the thing to do unless you really know what you're doing. Otherwise it's potentially life-threatening," Anthony said.

The reports on the lowest recorded temperature on Barrington Tops vary, but it may have been as low as minus 17 degrees.

"Even in temperatures above zero, if it's windy and wet and someone gets stuck without the right gear, hypothermia can quickly set in and that's potentially very dangerous," Anthony said.

And the chance to see snow tends to increase the traffic heading up the mountain.

Taree's Sam Mather at Devils Hole Lookout

"We had a lot of day visitors on the weekend and yesterday (July 14), so it was much busier than normal," Anthony said.

"Thirty five hardy folk in 14 groups booked for camping in the snow affected parts of Barrington Tops National Park last night (July 14). This includes two groups at Wombat Creek Camping Area which is only accessed via a wilderness bushwalk."

A small amount of snow started to fall on Monday (July 13), with more falling on Tuesday (July 14). About 2 to 3 centimetres fell from around Devils Hole and west to The Firs, but most of it had melted or been washed out by rain by Wednesday morning (July 15).

Slushy road conditions can be dangerous. Photo Sean Thompson/NPWS.

Slushy road conditions can be dangerous. Photo Sean Thompson/NPWS.

Snow wasn't originally predicted but a change in weather conditions brought with it the white stuff. The forecast for Barrington Tops over the next few days is cold, windy and wet, but no snow.

"Roads are slushy and slippery so four-wheel drive is best," Anthony said. "Depending on overnight temperatures roads might also become icy and hazardous. Visitors need to drive to the conditions with care."

For more information about camping in snow, visit www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/safety/alpine-safety

A few tips to stay safe when heading to Barrington Tops:

  • Leave the two-wheel-drive at home - four-wheel-drives are best suited for driving in snow and ice conditions
  • Check weather and road conditions before you leave home and again before you leave Scone or Gloucester
  • Leave plenty of time for the return trip in daylight hours: travel time is up to 1.5 hours from Gloucester or Scone
  • Pack additional warm clothing and extra food and water
  • Tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back.