Bathurst is a vibrant university town high up in the New South Wales Central Plateau with a cool and mild climate.
This is Australia’s oldest inland settlement, dating back to 1814, and its development in the 19th century was driven by the gold rush of the 1860s.
The streets of the Bathurst CBD are lined with stately buildings funded by this boom, and there is a refined Central Park that still retains its Victorian design.
Among motorsports fanatics, Bathurst will forever be known for Panorama Hill, an unusually mountainous street circuit that hosts the famous Bathurst 1000 every October.
1. Australian Museum of Fossils and Minerals
In the middle of Bathurst, in a beautiful old school building from the 1870s, sits a very important natural history museum.
It is home to the world-renowned Somerville Collection, made up of some of the rarest and most scientifically significant minerals in the world.
The collection is so large that only a quarter of it can be displayed at a time.
In addition to rubies, emeralds, diamonds and sapphires, there are some of the oldest fossils from early life, three dinosaur bones, dinosaur eggs, a gecko and saber-toothed cat skulls trapped in amber 30 million years ago.
But the museum’s undoubted exhibit is the complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, four meters high and 10.5 meters long.
2. Panorama Hills Speedway
In Australia, ‘Bathurst’ is synonymous with motorsport due to the historic Panorama Hills circuit, which hosted its first race in 1938, the Australian Grand Prix. Before that, some of the more informal circuits had been used in the area. 1900s.
Uncompromising and challenging Panorama Hill is a street circuit with a height difference of 174 meters, often described as the German equivalent of the Nürburgring.
The fastest section is the 1.9km Conrod Straight downhill section, where the supercar can reach speeds of 300km/h.
The circuit is known for its endurance events, with two major milestones in the calendar being the supercar Bathurst 1000 in October and the Bathurst 12 Hours in February for GT and production cars.
3. National Motorsports Museum
At Mount Panorama, Murray’s Corner is the last turn before the straight and a convenient overtaking point.
This iconic location is also home to the National Motorsports Museum of Australia.
There, you can delve into the storied history of Australian motorsport from the 1920s to the present.
Mount Panorama and Bathurst 1000 featured prominently in the display, featuring race winning Fords and Holden, racing leathers, helmets and profiles of the main races and drivers.
But the collection includes 100 cars and motorcycles, covering all forms of racing, from convertibles to rally, drag racing, highway, touring and more.
4. Abercrombie House
The powerful Stewart family, an integral part of Colonial Australia, built this magnificent Tudor Revival mansion just west of Bathurst in the 1870s.
Made of rustic granite and sandstone dressings, Abercrombie House stands out for its curved gables and iron spires.
Since the 60s, the house has belonged to the Morgan family, who opened the property for regular guided and self-guided tours.
There are 50 rooms, many with original fittings and packed with a variety of interesting décor and period furniture imported from England, China and Thailand.
There is a full programme of events throughout the year such as afternoon tea, theme days, jazz nights and concerts, while you can browse the collection in the attached antique shop.
5. Abercrombie Caves
Head south of Bathurst for a stunning series of limestone vaulted caves known for their karst formations.
Discovered by Europeans in 1842, the caves were later used for recreation by gold miners working in the area.
Inside the most famous cave arch, they installed a dance platform in 1880, replacing one erected 20 years earlier and still used for concerts today.
The arch is officially the largest natural arch in the southern hemisphere, and like its neighbors, the walls are plastered with an abundance of white marble.
Others worth exploring are Grove’s Cave and Bush Ranger’s Cave, which was used as a hideout by the notorious Bush Ranger Ribbon Gang in 1830. The wider reserve is a wildlife sanctuary that supports kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and a variety of birds.
6. Bathurst Regional Art Gallery
The excellent gallery in the Bathurst area was purpose-built in 1989 and is shared with the area library.
The gallery hosts around 25 exhibitions a year, mainly on Australian art since the end of World War II.
Depictions of local landscapes, towns and villages feature prominently in the series, with some notable 20th century artists including Jean Bellette (1908-1991), Surrealist painter James Gleason Gleeson) (1915-2008) and the landscape painter Lloyd Rees (1895-1888). The agenda includes an extensive collection, national and international traveling exhibitions, exhibitions of local artists, and works by Hill End colonial artists as part of the residency program.
7. Bathurst Court
The heritage-listed courthouse is Bathurst’s Royal Central Monument, easily spotted with its portico and octagonal dome, and has stood since 1880. Designed by colonial architect James Barnet, the building is in the Federal Liberal Classical style, constructed of locally fired brick and clad in sandstone.
The courts, still owned by the Department of Justice, continue to preside over the district and supreme courts, as well as the small conference court.
You can enter the East Wing, which houses the Bathurst District Historical Society Museum.
Exhibits here recall Bathurst’s development as a garrison town, the first gold discovery in NSW, the Cobb & Co stagecoach and the history of bush work in the area.
The textile collection is highly regarded, including what may be the colony’s earliest wedding dresses.
8. Machati Park
In the shadow of the courthouse, there is a park inaugurated in 1890, which still retains its original layout and most of its decoration.
Walk around Machattie Park and you’ll find exquisite monuments such as the Crago Fountain Band Rotunda, the Caretaker’s Cottage, the Munro Drinking Fountain and Spencer Lake.
The park is also home to many mature exotic trees such as English Oak, Red Beech, Atlas Cedar, Chinese Elm, Needle Oak, and Deodar Cedar.
The deciduous trees here take on beautiful reds and golds in the fall.
Next to the Rotunda at the back of the courthouse, you’ll find the Begonia House and Fern, a mainstay in Bathurst’s fall, showcasing over 100 species of begonia.
9. Chifley House
Australia’s 16th Prime Minister (1945-1949) Ben Chifley and his wife Elizabeth lived on and off at the house at 10 Busby Street from 1914 until their death in 1951 . Chifley spent the first half of the 20th century as a railroad worker before entering politics, and the house reflects the working-class lifestyle of the 1940s.
Throughout Chifley House there is evidence of Depression-era hardships, austerity measures and wartime rationing.
These are in stark contrast to the ceremonial gifts he received as Australia’s Prime Minister and Treasurer.
10. Kangaroo Boundary Road Reserve
Just next to the track on the west side of town, there is a large remnant of bush with smooth trails and clear views of Panorama Hill and Bathurst.
You’ll immediately notice large numbers of kangaroos frolicking around the reserve.
These are harmless, but you need to keep your distance.
Information signs about kangaroos and native birds have been posted, and there are several places where you can sit and enjoy the view of the town.
11. Evans Crown Nature Reserve
Further on, Evans Crown is a road trip east, outside the village of Tarana.
From Bathurst, you can get there in about half an hour, and you’ll know why you’re here when you witness the peculiar granite trays scattered across the reserve.
The highest point is Crown Rock, just over 1,100 meters above sea level, where the Waradjuri Aboriginal people perform initiation and dance rituals (corroboree). In addition to its stunning landforms, Crown Evans is valued for its wildlife, including wombats, echidnas, eastern grey kangaroos, red-necked wallabies, platypus, sugar gliders and possums.
12. Hill End Historic Site
A day trip to remember is the gold rush town an hour north of Bathurst.
At its peak in the 1870s, Hill End had a population of over 8,000 people, but the population dwindled sharply as the gold supply began to dry up.
Eventually, the town found a new, quieter career as an art colony.
What you’re looking at now is a picturesque scrubland street plan scarred by long-abandoned mines, a mix of open spaces and well-preserved heritage buildings.
Hill End is dotted with places where you can learn how gold was mined during the NSW Gold Rush, such as the Colonial Gold Mining Company’s roasting kilns and battery structures.
There’s plenty of mining equipment and wagons dating back 150 years, and you can relax and grill underground at Historic Hill End Hospital.
Another beautiful relic of the Gold Rush is the small town of Sofala, rumored to be the oldest Gold Rush settlement in Australia.
Gold was discovered at Summerhill Creek in February 1851, and within weeks thousands of people poured into the area.
There are many buildings left over from the early days, such as the Royal Hotel (1862) on Denison Street, which still provides accommodation for prospectors.
In fact, people still venture to Sofala in search of gold with frying pans or metal detectors.
You can test your panning skills on the banks of the Turon River, or simply admire the historic townscape and idyllic hilly backdrop.
14. Inland Sound
In late February, the summit of Wahluu-Mount Panorama became the venue for a two-day arts festival, held with the blessing and cooperation of indigenous elders in the region.
Inland Sea of Sound brings together music and art for a wide audience, bringing major recording artists to a regional destination while also providing a springboard for local talent.
The lineup for the 2020 edition includes Mama Kin Spender, Killing Heidi, Missy Higgins, Timberwolf, Thando and more.
15. Bathurst Cattle and Sheep Show (Heritage Park)
This complex east of Bathurst has an interesting story as a World War II barracks established in 1940 until 1952 as Bathurst Immigration Camp. Since the 1970s, it has been the scene of the Bathurst Cattle and Sheep Show, which eventually evolved into a permanent attraction, educating young people about rural life and Aboriginal culture.
You can often see working dogs in action, milking, watching sheep being sheared and learning about the different sheep and cattle breeds in NSW.
There’s an animal area with native Australian species such as emus and kangaroos, a nine-hole putting course, hay rides and a whole host of activities and lessons, from bush dancing to whipping, archery and stargazing.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Bathurst, Australia
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