Bathurst might be the spiritual home of motor racing in Australia, but the famed Mount Panorama circuit isn’t the only drawcard of this thriving regional centre. A rich goldfields history, spectacular limestone caves and a year-long program of events and festivals make this Central Tablelands town a must-see.
From playing with an enormous toy railway to panning for gold, the Bathurst region is a giant playground for families.
This is where Australia's famous gold rush got off the ground. When gold was first discovered in the early 1850s it drew people from far and wide. The world’s largest piece of reef gold was found in the Hill End goldfields. Visit the smaller gold rush towns of Hill End and Sofala to see what life was like for prospectors who were trying their luck.
You can experience the dark depths of a colonial underground mine at the Bald Hill Tourist Mine near Hill End. The 80m tunnel of the 1870s mine shaft is 30m underground. If you want to explore even further back in time, take in the Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton at the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum.
If Bathurst is the spiritual home of motor racing, then Mount Panorama is where followers worship at the altar of speed and precision driving. This is where the internationally renowned Bathurst 1000 takes place in October. And for rev-heads who think they have what it takes, the track also opens to the public when it's not being used for a race.
If culture is more your thing, you'll also find that in Bathurst. Walk along its leafy streets and admire the heritage architecture which dates back to colonial times. Take in contemporary art at the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery and Chifley Home, the residence of former prime minister Ben Chifley.
The Bathurst Winter Festival, Bathurst - Image Credit: David Roma
One of the area's most awe-inspiring natural attractions is the Abercrombie Caves. Enter the limestone caves through the Archway, the largest natural arch in the Southern Hemisphere. Join a tour and explore this thrilling underworld full of marble, stalagmites, stalactites, suspension bridges and more.
The Bathurst Farmers Markets are held on the fourth Saturday of the month and champion local produce. Legall Patisserie is known to sell out of pastries, so get there early. Head to brunch at Harvest Café and Store, enjoy pizza and cocktails at Church Bar, set in a former Anglican schoolhouse, or visit Vine and Tap for contemporary Italian cuisine.
Wine aficionados will head to Bathurst to make the most of the region’s cool-climate wines at cellar doors such as Vale Creek Wines, the annual Winter Winery Wander in June and the National Cool Climate Wine Show in October. Craft beer fans will make a beeline for Fish River Valley Brewing.
The Bathurst area is just over a 3hr drive from Sydney and 3hr 30min from Canberra. You can also catch the train direct from Sydney daily, which takes around four hours, and hire a car to explore the region.
When it comes to natural beauty, the Bathurst region is blessed. It is home to stunning crystal and limestone caves, walking tracks that take you deep into pristine bushland, and prehistoric fossils and dinosaur skeletons that will make you wonder what this part of the world looked like before humans arrived.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the traditional owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.