Things to do
There’s loads of outdoor fun at Lostock School Camp. There’s swimming, fishing and canoeing or kayaking in the Patterson River, visit a working dairy and hand-feed the calves, check out the community markets and wineries. Gresford is close by and has a fabulous, local pub with great meals. The Barrington Tops National Park is just a 40 minute drive away.
Swimming in the Patterson River
When the river is running normally, the swimming hole at the bottom of the school is about 1.8m deep. When it seriously floods, the waters can rise 3 to 4 metres above what you normally see. The waters just down from the willow tree are normally 0.6m or so deep – you will find yourself here quite a lot in summer! Li-los are kept in the right hand side red cupboard in the common room. There is a swinging rope into another large and deep swimming hole in the river about 300 – 400m upstream – test it first though.
No diving of jumping into the river without an adult checking first. The river contains changeable underwater hazards such as submerged trees and rocks. Please take care and exercise commonsense.
You can catch bass, native catfish and redeye mullet in the river and dam by day. At night it’s time to catch eels. Lostock Dam is stocked with bass fingerlings every year and over time they have spread up and down stream. There is some limited fishing gear kept at Lostock School for those willing to try their hand. See some fish in the gallery, these are fish caught in the Patterson River. Submit photos of any catches, however seemingly pathetic, and techniques used and they can be posted here (note there are limits on size of fish that can be kept).
Lostock Dam was commenced in 1960 in the aftermath of a severe drought. It is a long and meandering body of water that is very popular for kayaking and fishing. It is about a 6km kayak trip from the jetty at the dam wall to the scout camp at the top end of the river – you pass through areas where there is no one around at all except a few cows, thumping huge geese and a variety of wetlands and waterbirds. It is also possible to go up and downstream on the river behind the school, at least a 1km upstream and 2km so far downstream. It is quite safe – you will need to walk your kayak around some shallow or rapid patches, so wearing a pair of sandshoes is advised. Early morning is fantastic – the birdlife and playpuses are out and about. A small fleet of kayaks is kept at Lostock School for visitors to use – you will need roofracks and rope or a trailer to get them over to the dam.
Horn Family Dairy Farm
Visitors to the school camp have a standing invitation to go down the road to see Mary and Brian Horn’s dairy farm in full swing during milking time. You will also get a chance to feed the calves, pigs and chickens. Visits around 3:30 – 4:00pm are best. Kitchen scraps can be fed to the pigs or chickens to cut down on what you will need to take back home.
Gresford Community Markets
Gresford markets are held on the third Sunday of each month at the historic “Clevedon” homestead (left hand side on the way to Patterson). Each month, over thirty stall holders gather in the beautiful grounds of the homestead opened each month as a community fundraiser. On offer are olives and olive oil, natural household, health and beauty products, sports memorabilia, scarecrows, locally grown plants and produce, a wide range of clothing, cake stalls, paintings, jewellery, art cards, bags, handicrafts, expertly crafted wooden goods and bric-a-brac.
There’s a barbecue and plenty of other food and refreshments available. Some market days also feature live auctions of household and farm goods and inspections of the restored homestead.
Camyr Allyn and Glendonbrook wineries can be found in East Gresford and are open for cellar door tastings and sales. Hint: Camyr Allyn is on the Dungog side of East Gresford while Glendonbrook is on the Patterson side.
Eating out in Gresford
A mere 19km jaunt up the road gets you to East Gresford where there are a few eateries. The Beattie Hotel is a nice old pub (the nearest and only pub nearby to Lostock) that has a lovely restaurant. There is also the Gresford Bowling Club next door and nearby, there’s a couple of restaurants/cafes.
Barrington Tops National Park
Barrington Tops National Park is a 40 minute drive from Lostock and offers picnics and walks through rainforests, swimming in crystal clear creeks and lots of wildlife. Barrington Tops forms a plateau between two of the large peaks of a spur of the Great Dividing Range. The mountain ranges are a mixture of sedimentary rocks with a granite top that is thought to be some 300 to 400 million years, placing it well before Australia separated from Gondwana.
Skipping a few years to 1969, the area between Mount Barrington, Mount Royal and the Gloucester Tops was declared the Barrington Tops National Park. In 1982 it was listed as a World Heritage Area and subsequently a Wilderness Area. Some of the rivers flowing through the Barrington range have been classed as Wild Rivers meaning they are exceptionally pure and unpolluted. The National Park is the southernmost of the main tracts of Sub Tropical Rainforest in Australia but also being the second highest mountain range in the State (after the Australian Alps), it attracts regular snowfalls during the winter months.