Barra Nula Cascades
Gibraltar Range National Park near Glen Innes, NSW, Australia
Barra Nula Cascades is a secluded waist-deep plunge pool surrounded by giant boulders in the middle of a series of cascades. Located in the centre of four national parks the pool is fairly easy to access for the agile explorer. The swimming hole is accessed by leaping across dramatic boulders further upstream which form a series of cascades providing opportunities for a more daring dip in some of the plunge pools they form. Other pools may have strong currents and submerged boulders though so enter with care. Downstream, around a bend in the river, you will come to the top of a waterfall which draws your eye down into the valley and your mind to the tantalising potential for more swimming holes below. To access this spot you will pass by the Mulligan’s Hut (which has its own swimming hole) and where there is a large grassy area with barbecues, perfect for an after-swim picnic down by the river. There is plenty of varied plant and animal life and historical interest in this area due to its location in the centre of a series of national parks.
How To Get There: Drive to Mulligan’s Hut campground, which is accessed via Mulligan’s Drive which a turnoff along the Gwydir Highway between Grafton and Glen Innes. You will find the turning by driving around 69km from Glen Innes or about 90km from Grafton. From here walk down to Mulligan’s Hut, which is clearly signposted, and turn right heading downstream, following signs to the Barra Nula Cascades. Once at the riverside, cross over by boulder hopping to the far bank and make your way downstream. You will pass several small pools among the boulders and then reach the more sheltered and tranquil plunge pool which is completely surrounded by rocks and fed its own trickling cascade.
Difficulty of access: 6/10 – The road in to Barra Nula Cascades (Mulligan’s Drive) is unsealed but well maintained and fine for 2WD all year round. The campground has wheelchair accessible toilet and shower although the ground is unpaved. The trail down to Mulligan’s Hut is short but steep, narrow and unpaved. It is a short (10 minute) walk from here to the Barra Nula Cascades and the plunge pool but negotiating the boulders and the riverbank requires some agility and a willingness to take a few leaps of faith.
Opening Times/Seasons: All day/All year
Facilities Nearby: Flush toilets, cold showers, parking, tank water (which needs to be treated or boiled), picnic tables and free gas/electric barbecues in the picnic area as well as wood-fired ones up in the camping area.
Other Activities: Picnics, cycling and hiking. This is a great central point from which to explore other National Parks and there are countless other trails to explore from here, including the Gibraltar-Washpool World Heritage walk. The Butterleaf, Mann River, Nymboida and Capoompeta National parks are also nearby meaning that this locality has almost endless potential for exploration.
Other Places of Interest Nearby: This was the setting for an early hydroelectric scheme in the 1900s and Mulligan’s hut is of historical interest as it was built by Bill Mulligan, the entrepreneur behind the scheme.
Wildlife: The area has plenty of interesting wildlife and flora and there are information boards up around the place for more information.
Places to Eat: There are several cafes and restaurants and a bakery in Glen Innes and Grafton has plenty of options for food.
Where to Camp: There is plenty of camping at the top of the track (about 15 minutes walk) with flush toilets and wood-fired barbecues and sometimes firewood. For current camping fees at Mulligan’s Campground check here.
Other places to Stay: There are several motels in Glen Innes and several farmstays and B&Bs in the surrounding area. The same is true of Grafton.
Nearby Towns: Glen Innes, Grafton, Armidale, Coffs Harbour.
Other Swimming Spots Nearby: Mulligan’s Hut
Comments: The area around Barra Nula Cascades is really interesting with so much potential for exploration. It is likely that by exploring the trails and other National Parks closeby on foot, many more opportunities for a secluded dip would be uncovered.