With splendid heritage buildings, gorgeous river banks and pretty parks, Forbes is a picturesque town in the heart of the beautiful Lachlan Valley in the Parkes region. Colonial gold fever struck the district in 1861 when the precious metal was discovered. And notorious bushrangers followed.
Many of Forbes’ heritage buildings featured in The Dish, a movie about the CSIRO Parkes radio telescope’s role in the 1969 Moon landing. The Forbes Heritage Walk is a delightful way to see the rich colonial architecture and pretty Victoria Park, where Prince Charles planted an elm in 1994.
Ben Hall and Frank Gardiner are the most infamous of the colonial bushrangers to have roamed the district. In 1862 they carried out Australia’s biggest gold robbery, the Escort Rock gold robbery - the bailing up of the Forbes to Orange gold escort coach near Eugowra, just east of Forbes.
The Forbes and District Historical Society Museum has a fascinating exhibition on Hall, whose short life as a bushranger ended in a hail of bullets on May 5, 1865 near Goobang Creek, northwest of Forbes. You can visit his gravesite in the Forbes cemetery. A white picket fence borders the grave.
You can also explore the Ben Hall discovery room in the Forbes Railway Arts and Visitor Information Centre. Other delightful things to do and see include a visit to McFeeters Motor Museum, which has a remarkable collection of vehicles dating back to 1905. Lake Forbes is a wonderful spot for picnics.
Check out the event calendar for festivals, such as the biennial Kalari Lachlan River Arts Festival. You’ll find plenty of places to stay. Forbes is three hours’ drive from Canberra and five hours from Sydney. Trains depart Sydney for Orange and a connecting bus. Or fly to Parkes Airport and rent a car.