Combine rich heritage and natural beauty with the iconic Parkes Elvis Festival and the world-famous CSIRO Parkes radio telescope, and you have the Parkes region in Country NSW. Explore gold rush history, or get outdoors and enjoy water sports, bushwalking and birdwatching.
The drive from Sydney to Parkes is five hours, via the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains, Bathurst and Orange. From Canberra, it’s a little over three hours. You can travel by train direct from Sydney on Mondays, while the flight from Sydney to Parkes Airport is only 65 minutes.
You’ll find plenty of places to stay and many things to do, including a visit to the Parkes Observatory Visitors Centre to learn all about the telescope nicknamed The Dish, which helped broadcast the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing. Stop for lunch at The Dish Cafe.
The Henry Parkes Centre houses four fascinating museums, including the King’s Castle Elvis Exhibit, which displays Elvis Presley artefacts. Slip on your blue suede shoes for the Parkes Elvis Festival in January. Thousands of Elvis impersonators make the annual pilgrimage to celebrate the music legend.
Check out the events calendar for other festivals and shows, such as the annual Tullibigeal Picnic Races in Condobolin, west of Parkes. Utes in the Paddock is a whimsical sculpture attraction painted by famous Australian artists and Gum Bend Lake is popular for water sports.
Lake Cargelligo, southwest of Condobolin, is also a beautiful waterway. Enjoy kayaking, waterskiiing, fishing and sailing on the large oasis, where a bird sanctuary protects species such as the black swan. A 90-minute drive south is Griffith, a famous wine region.
A short drive southwest of Parkes is Forbes, a picturesque town on the banks of the Lachlan River. Many of its heritage buildings were featured in the movie The Dish about the 1969 Moon landing. North of Parkes is Peak Hill, home to an open-cut heritage gold mine and fossils from the age of the dinosaurs.