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Barrington Tops Forest Road re-opens to public

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In a major boon for the local tourism industry, the Barrington Tops Forest Road has been re-opened to the public.

The popular thoroughfare, the only access route from the east coast to the Barrington Tops State Forests and National Parks, suffered major structural damage following severe wet weather last year.

It is also used as an alternative link between Gloucester and Scone.

Upper Hunter state MP Dave Layzell, who joined Forestry Corporation of NSW, local government representatives and community members during the week, was delighted with the result.

“It has been a marathon wait which required a Herculean response to repair Barrington Tops Forest Road between Cobark Park and the Honeysuckle picnic areas after significant storm damage in March 2021,” he said.

“So, it’s taken almost 640 days from closure until traffic could once again cross ‘The Tops’.

“I thank everyone involved in this project and the community for its patience while the work was done.”

A geotechnical assessment was conducted to assess tension cracks and slumpage underground with the results guiding the repairs.

There was also a setback for the project when this year’s floods across NSW impacted the supply of construction materials.

Forestry Corporation finally got on site in October and, over the past two months, completed what has been described as an “engineering feat” to make the road safe.

“The closure of the Gloucester-Scone road for almost two years has underscored its importance as a significant regional link connecting the Upper Hunter Shire and the Gloucester district,” Mr Layzell said.

“I thank the Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders and his predecessor Adam Marshall for their support of my advocacy to assist the Forestry Corporation to progress the damage assessment and subsequent repairs as promptly as possible during a challenging set of circumstances.

“Now that the Barrington Tops Forest Road is open, I encourage the community to return to the area to enjoy the World Heritage-listed Barrington Tops National Park, the various leisure opportunities between Gloucester and Scone as well as the picturesque drive through this unique part of the Australian landscape.”

The reopening is a boost to local communities, tourism and economies, too, according to Forestry Corporation stewardship manager Kathy Lyons.

“As the main link between Gloucester and Scone, we are very pleased to have completed these works and welcome people back to the beautiful State Forests of the Barrington Tops,” she said.

“The project was a major engineering feat and saw more than 12,500 tonnes of material, or 2,100 truckloads, removed and replaced to make the road structurally sound again.

“Thanks also goes to the team of staff, contractors and engineers who made this extraordinary task possible.

“Their perseverance throughout challenges of seasonal and wet weather has made this reopening conceivable.

“Visitors are now invited back to the State Forests of the Barrington Tops.

“But, be aware as these are cool, high-altitude forests, so don’t forget to pack some warm gear.”

The NSW Government supported the work through a $60 million investment.

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