The cool green pools of Chichester’s Allyn River. Pic:

Chichester State Forest is a knockout spot in the hinterland of the NSW lower north coast. It’s about a three-hour run north of Sydney and is imbued with the sort of serenity that makes it feel much further afield. 

A visit up to the Barrington foothills ticks a stack of boxes if you’re looking for a leafy weekend sojourn with a little offroad action, a couple of water crossings, unreal scenery and even freshwater swimming opportunities in remote mountain streams.

Oh, and being a state forest, Chichester falls under the stewardship of the Forestry Corporation (far more laid back than the stuffy Department of Parks and Wildlife), so you won’t even need to worry about permits or fees and can simply rock up and get exploring. 

What are you waiting for?


4WDING: Mostly easy going gravel and dirt tracks with a few hair raising unfenced mountain switchbacks on the track in from Gresford. There are a couple of easy crossings of the Allyn River on the way in. 

There are a handful of gnarly, deeply rutted sidetracks within the forest that have no doubt tested plenty of drivers and bruised scores of egos.

LADIES WELL: Deep, cold water swimming hole in the upper reaches of the Allyn River. Just the ticket for a refreshing dip on a hot arvo.


LOCATION: 250km northwest of Sydney, you can reach Chichester in around a three-hour run from Sydney, or an hour and a half from Newcastle. Access is via the M1 and Clarence Town Road.

CAMPING: Available within the state forest at Old Camp, White Rock and Pademelon campgrounds. Flat grassy sites, picnic tables and toilets are provided. Visitors need to bring their own water and carry out all rubbish. No bookings are taken and all campgrounds operate on a first in, first served basis.

FUEL and supplies are available in Dungog.

MORE INFO is available at

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