Forbes has always been known for its heritage buildings set alongside gorgeous river banks and leafy parks, But a new, world-class sculpture trail shows there's more to this town in the beautiful Lachlan Valley than meets the eye. See its changing face, from colonial gold rush times, including notorious bushrangers, to the modern day.

Children walking by a Grecian-style fountain in Victoria Park, Forbes

History and heritage

Gold was discovered in the Parkes region in 1861 and helped shaped the area. Learn about the colonial gold rush and its notorious bushrangers at the Forbes and District Historical Society Museum. It has a fascinating exhibition on Ben Hall, whose short life ended in a hail of bullets at nearby Goobang Creek on 5 May 1865.

Hall and Frank Gardiner were the district’s most infamous bushrangers. In 1862 they carried out Australia’s biggest gold robbery, the Escort Rock heist, bailing up the Forbes to Orange gold escort coach near Eugowra, just east of Forbes. The Forbes Visitor Information Centre, in the heritage-listed old railway station, also has a Ben Hall discovery room.

There’s more colonial architecture on show on the Forbes Heritage Walk, which includes Victoria Park, where Prince Charles planted an elm tree in 1994. Many of Forbes’ heritage buildings featured in The Dish, a movie about the CSIRO Parkes radio telescope’s role in the 1969 Moon landing.

Vintage cars on display at the McFeeters Motor Museum in Forbes, The Parkes

Art and culture

Somewhere Down the Lachlan is a country sculpture trail inspired by Bondi Beach's famous Sculpture By The Sea festival. The bush version of this impressive outdoor art installation is a permanent exhibition that begins at Forbes and is set alongside the Lachlan River. It will stretch all the way to Condoblin when it’s completed in 2022.

Forbes has a lot more to offer on the culture front, including the McFeeters Motor Museum’s remarkable collection of vehicles dating back to 1905. Check out the events calendar for upcoming festivities, such as the biennial Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival which celebrates country creativity.

Eat and drink

Grazing Down The Lachlan is an annual food festival in September which celebrates produce native to the Central West region and Lake Forbes is a lovely spot for picnics. In town, stop by Bakehouse for country cakes and pies, Heritage Restaurant and Café for casual cuisine and Aglio e Olio for pizza and Italian.

Getting there and where to stay

Forbes is a five-hour drive from Sydney, seven hours from Melbourne and three hours from Canberra. Trains depart Sydney for Orange, with a connecting bus. Or fly into Parkes and rent a car for the 25min drive. Accommodation options include casual motels, charming B&B’s and grand homesteads such as Carrawobbity Rural Retreat.  

Parkes Airport

Fly into Parkes Airport

Parkes Airport is 5km from the Parkes town centre. Use the taxi services to make the short trip west. Alternatively, rent a car from the hire services available at the airport and explore the region at your own pace.

Regional Express services the airport with four flights a week from Sydney (via Bathurst). For other major Australian cities, connect via Sydney for travel to Parkes.

Things to Do and Places to Stay