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Barrington Tops winter wonderland sparks sightseeing rush to Hunter Valley

Emma Siossian, Wednesday June 20, 2018 - 11:00 EST
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'Snow tourists' are urged to use caution on roads in the Barrington Tops area. - ABC

The recent cold snap across parts of the country has seen the Barrington Tops area blanketed in snow, drawing hundreds of sightseers.

The region, west of Gloucester in the New South Wales Hunter Valley, is the highest subalpine area in the country, outside the Australian Alps.

Over the past few days around 15 centimetres of snow fell in parts of the Barrington Tops National Park.

The park's proximity to large coastal towns, including Newcastle and Port Macquarie, means that snow chasers have been arriving from near and far.

Thomas Davey at the Gloucester Visitor Information Centre, said that beachside residents were not always prepared for the icy conditions, with strong winds adding to the chill.

"With the wind chill factor, it feels like –9 degrees up there today," he said.

"Do not wear thongs, do not wear shorts, take a beanie, take a camera."

There is the chance of more snow falling on Barrington Tops today, with rain showers expected tomorrow.

Local resident James Laurie said it felt like winter had arrived with a vengeance.

"We had a nice fall of snow on the hills here two or three kilometres behind us this morning — and the wind off it all day," he said.

"It wouldn't surprise me if it was eight or 10 centimetres yesterday."

'Snow tourists' urged to use caution

Mr Davey said drivers needed to use caution on the mountain roads, which are often narrow and slippery and best suited to four wheel drive vehicles.

He said sightseers should always check the before heading out.

"Most people in this region aren't used to driving in the snow or mud, so they need to take it easy," he said.

"Last year we had a terrible accident where someone slid their car into a family and we had to airlift a young boy out by helicopter."

The National Parks Service has also advised 'snow tourists' to make sure they have food, water and extra warm clothes just in case they get stranded in the area.

How many ways can you say snow?

For those looking for a unique way to describe their snow experience, Mr Davey had some tips.

"Apparently Scotland has over 400 words for snow and sleet," he said.

"Considering there are a lot of Scots who settled around Barrington and Gloucester, in fact Barrington Tops was named after Lord Barrington who had Scottish ancestry, it's interesting.

"The words include 'skelf' which means a large snowflake, and 'spitters' which means small drops or flakes of driven rain or snow.

"So I would say we are having lots of 'spitters' and lots of 'skelfs' in the Barrington Tops."


© ABC 2018

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