Whether you are a nature lover, mountain biker, art aficionado, or simply looking for a break from busyness, Dungog offers delights aplenty.
Pristine rivers, stunning forests, rolling hills, awesome bike trails, wide verandaed streets, lovingly reimagined historic buildings – all that and more is Dungog, a small country town that sits on the Williams River near the World Heritage listed Barrington Tops National Park.
Just two and half hours north of Sydney and an hour from Newcastle, Dungog offers the perfect place to linger and savour life as it should be. The pace is less harried here, the people are warm and welcoming and what’s on offer to visitors is thoughtful, considered and most often sustainably focused.
Located tantalisingly close to natural wonders like the Mount Royal National Park to the west, Myall River and Myall Lakes National Park to the east and the Chichester State Forrest and Barrington Tops to the north it is a perfect base for nature lovers, hikers and bird watchers who want to return to the comfort of a welcoming country town after a day of outdoor adventures.
There are plenty of activities for all ages and fitness levels. For something nice and easy, try the Blue Gum Loop (3.5 km/1.5 hrs) and venture into the Gwondwana Heritage Rainforests of the Barrington Tops. After crossing the Williams River on a high footbridge, the trail meanders through regrowth forests, crossing side streams and offering superb views of the bridge before passing through grand rainforest. Nearby Rocky Crossing Walk or the Corker Trail will appeal to the more experienced bushwalkers. Discover these and other walks at Dungog Visitor Information Centre.
For a peaceful nature experience closer to town, head to Dungog Common. With over 600 acres of communal, recreational lands, it is a great place to start exploring. Enjoy the fresh air, the stunning vistas towards the Barrington Ranges and go for a walk, a run, or a ride before settling in for a picnic. The creation of the Dungog Mountain Bike Park within Dungog Common has put the town firmly on the map for mountain bike enthusiasts, with Australian Geographic calling the bike trail one of the best in the Southern Hemisphere – no less. It’s a hugely popular drawcard to the area; just a kilometre from the main street there’s more than 20km of cross-country mountain bike trails and two constructed downhill flow tracks. Each track is one kilometre and two minutes of adrenalin pumping fun. Managed and maintained by Ride Dungog, find out all you need to know at www.ridedungog.org.
With another 20 or so rides in the Dungog Shire, ranging from easy to extreme, there is something for every proficiency level and plenty to keep biking enthusiasts busy for a long weekend or a whole week.
Dungog has long been a town with a penchant for creativity and the arts, so make sure to visit local galleries Dungog by Design, Gallery on Dowling, and the Dungog Arts Collaborative and mark your calendar for signature event, Sculpture on the Farm, in early October.
Read more in the Winter issue of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.
Story by Cornelia Schulze