A world-famous radio telescope that’s nicknamed The Dish, the fun Parkes Elvis Festival, and rich agricultural and mining heritage are just a few of the reasons to visit Parkes. The beautiful town is named after Sir Henry Parkes, a colonial politician credited as the father of Australian federation.
In July 1969, the radio telescope at the CSIRO Parkes Observatory claimed a place in history, receiving television signals of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, helping televise Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon to six hundred million people around the world.
At the Parkes Observatory Visitors Centre you can learn all about the telescope’s fascinating story and pick up souvenirs in the gift shop. Enjoy a bite to eat and great views of the telescope at The Dish Cafe, or take advantage of the free gas barbecues and cook your own lunch.
The Henry Parkes Centre incorporates the Parkes Visitor Information Centre and four impressive museums, including the Parkes Motor Museum and the King’s Castle Elvis Exhibit. During the annual Elvis Festival in January, you can travel to Parkes on a special train from Sydney.
Other things to do include exploring the district’s goldmining heritage on one of the Gold Trails and the self-drive Modern Mining Trail. Gold fever struck the Parkes region in 1861. You can visit Peak Hill’s old open-cut gold mine, which is 35 minutes’ drive north of Parkes. The gold mine first opened in 1893.
The picturesque town of Forbes is 25 minutes’ drive southwest of Parkes. A scenic drive northwest of Parkes is the Trundle Hotel, a heritage-listed pub built in 1912. It has the longest verandah in NSW. Accommodation options in Parkes include caravan parks, motels, B&Bs, pubs and a boutique hotel.