Sunday, 10 September 2006




From: Barrington Tops, Written by: Grant Burgess


Accompanied by Tim Grugeon




Coming off a poor NSW snow season, with marginal conditions imminent (though the BoM forecasted snow to fall right along the NSW tablelands from this event only 2 days earlier) Tim & I decided to chance it & chase the Barrington Tops (BTs). The fact that snow fell in the BTs only 3 days earlier on Thursday to a depth of 12cm at Polblue to 1500 (reported in ‘the Herald’ newspaper from the NPWS), also in marginal conditions, gave us some hope of seeing something.


As it turned out the low pressure system near Sydney brought strong gusty SW winds & heavy showers to the Hunter on Thursday. By Sunday the large high in the bight was taking over & bringing strong S-SE winds & heavy rain to the Hunter coast. The upper low ended up moving N through W NSW, way too far W for our liking!


The drive up the valley was peppered with moderate showers & persistent heavy cloud toward the BTs. A small patch of blue sky was visible to the S at one point when passing through Muswellbrook. Around 2-3km from the Dingo Gate we ran into heavy cloud/fog, light rain also began around this point.


The drive toward Polblue saw some isolated patches of snow (probably left over from Thursday) above 1400m. Arrived at Polblue camping ground around 1200 to sleety showers. These sleety showers became briefly heavy & lasted on & off for about the next 45mins. Temp here was 3.3°C at 1230 with a fresh 17.6km/h SE wind blowing.


Devils hole saw more thick fog & howling SE winds. The lookout was surreal – 1min visibility was below 50m & the next it was above 5km! There was a cloud layer steady above the valley with cloud base below us, wind racing up the escarpment was making moisture in the air condense rapidly producing some thick fast moving fog. Temp here around 1400 was 4.4°C with winds gusting to 33.3km/h (from my Kestrel 1000) & 55km/h (from Tim’s Anemo) – it was bloody cold anyway!


We then followed trails around the N edge of the plateau & come across another brief heavy sleet shower at only 1200m & at a temp of around 5°C – very unexpected. Polblue falls were in full flow & Tim mentioned the water level was the highest he had ever seen it. Polblue swamp was also a good foot above normal level. Many creeks flowed above their embankments in a widespread area above Gundy.


Another enjoyable chase even though we had limited success & it was great to see so much rain activity inland.