Places in the heart: Jane Caro

Author and commentator Jane Caro loves the bush and big skies to be had upriver near the Barrington Tops National Park in the NSW Hunter region.

We've been coming to the Upper Allyn for 25 years. My aunt and uncle had a woodcutter's cottage in a village nearby and we used to stay there. We come at weekends, midweek when we can and for several weeks each summer.

The Upper Allyn is a spectacularly beautiful, steep river valley on the edge of Barrington Tops and the bird life is extraordinary. The river is pure and unpolluted and my daughter and soon-tobe son-in-law have seen platypus.

Few people will have heard of the Upper Allyn; it's the upper reaches of the Allyn River, which runs into the Patterson River, which runs into the Hunter River. It's very quiet, very peaceful. We bird watch, which is something I never thought I'd do in my life, but I do.

My husband's definitely a twitcher now, but I've only had a few twitches every now and again. There are camping areas and cabins on beautiful properties for people to stay in. They're basic but the walking, bird-watching, river and rainforest are lovely.

Dungog is probably the nearest reasonably-sized town, a good 55-minutes drive away, so you have to bring everything with you as there's no shops here.

In terms of tourism, if you like luxury, don't come. But if what you like is peace, quiet and beauty it's a great place to come. My husband gets on his tractor and disappears for the day. I do a lot of walking and writing. On clear nights we love to watch the stars because there's no light pollution, no streetlights and you don't see the lights of other properties.

We are fortunate and we know it; incredibly lucky and grateful to have this privilege of caring for this land.

Jane Caro and Chris Bonnor's new book is What Makes a Good School.

Interview by Nina Karnikowski

This series of articles produced with support from Tourism Australia. 

Share your Australian Places in the Heart with Australia's 3.7 million Facebook fans at