Aerial view of Central West NSW Aerial view of Central West NSW

The ultimate holiday guide to theCentral West

Drive beyond the haze of the Blue Mountains, and it won’t be long before you reach the open plains and abundant farmlands of the Central West. From the slopes of the Central Tablelands out to the western flats, here you’ll find delicious produce, excellent wine and fascinating stories aplenty.

 

Book in for lazy winery lunches, produce-laden tours and long hikes at the foodie hubs of Orange and Mudgee. You’ll be leaving these famous wine regions with a packed car boot, laden with local food and a rattling half-dozen bottles.

 

There’s also the lively student city of Bathurst, with its impressive heritage and need for speed when it comes to car racing. Discover the captivating stories of Cowra, once the site of a daring escape by Japanese prisoners of war.

 

Delight kids and family alike with a day out at Dubbo’s very own African safari, or with a trip to the iconic ‘Dish’ out in Parkes to learn more about the stars that shine so bright out here.

Best places to visit in Central West NSW

Mudgee

The food and wine town of Mudgee on the Cudgegong River has it all: cellar doors to visit, colonial-era buildings to see and local brews to try. Get back to nature here on nearby bush, wetland and rainforest trails.

Orange

Renowned for its vineyards and fruit orchards, the Central Tablelands town plays the bountiful host for any gourmet long weekend. Peruse its elegant boutique high street shops, tramp over snow-covered fields in winter and go cherry picking in spring.

Dubbo

Take a walk on the wild side at the Orana region city of Dubbo, a family-favourite that’s home to an African Plains-style safari adventure, heritage architecture and millions of stars that you can spy at the town’s observatory.

Bathurst

Australia’s oldest inland city is young at heart, with a burgeoning student population and thrilling motorsport races at Mount Panorama. Check out the remnants of its gold rush heritage and the toothsome inhabitants of its fossil and mineral museum.

Cowra

Famous as the site of a former Prisoner of War Camp Site during World War Two, today the country town is home to a peaceful Japanese Garden and annual Cherry Blossom Festival, as well as vineyards, art exhibitions and gold rush history.

Top things to do in Central West NSW

Wineries

Sample the best of the region’s cool-climate wines at any of the cellar doors in Orange. Don’t miss the European heritage Rowlee Wines, the family-run De Salis Wines (with its beautiful Blanc de Blanc sparkling), and the petting zoo at the Heifer Station Wines woolshed.

 

Over in Mudgee, start exploring one of Australia’s oldest wine regions at the Lowe Cellar Door, a certified organic and biodynamic vineyard. Check out the vintage motorcycle on display at Robert Stein winery, and the stunning family-owned De Beaurepaire Wines, with its French-style wines.

Nature & wildlife

Make like The Lion King on the open plains of Taronga Western Plains Zoo. With lions, meerkats, giraffes and zebras, a visit here feels like an African safari.

 

There’s lots of Australian wildlife to discover as well. Among the ridges of Nangar National Park, you might spot swooping wedge-tailed eagles, as well as roos and wallabies as you take the Mount Nangar walking track.

 

If you find yourself at Orange on a warm day, Lake Canobolas has ‘beaches’ from which you can launch yourself into its waters, as well as picnic areas where you can set up a late lunch.

Attractions & activities

What better way to see the mountains and vines of Mudgee, than from the sky? Book a Mudgee hot air balloon tour at sunrise to take to the air, before having a champagne breakfast.

 

At Dubbo, visit the old gaol lockup. Dating back to the 19th century, today a trip here will see you interact with theatrical performances and explore the historical grounds. At Bathurst, there is high tea at the heritage Abercrombie House, a Scottish-style mansion from the 1870s.

 

In spring, walk up Cowra’s ​​Sakura Avenue, to see the cherry trees blossom. It’s between the Japanese Garden and the site of the old Prisoner of War Camp, which housed Japanese prisoners in World War Two.

Accommodation in Central West NSW

Camping & caravan parks

With many national parks in this part of the world, there is free camping and low-cost camping galore (here are our picks of the best in Mudgee). At Terarra Creek camping and picnic area, drop a $6 booking fee to spend the night in the valley, walking along its pink honey-myrtle-lined creek in spring.

 

Out in Mudgee, the Old Bara Campground is a peaceful cattle property whose owners have provided pet and child-friendly camping at a low cost. NRMA Dubbo Holiday Park has cabins, as well as caravan and campsites, with a pool, playground and jumping pillow.

Hotels & motels

For old-world hospitality, the four-star Bishop’s Court Estate boutique hotel in Bathurst is a renovated Victorian property, with a historic chapel that is over a century old.

Unique & luxury accommodation

Go on an eco-friendly glamping trip with Siera Escape at Mudgee (also featured in our best places to stay in Mudgee). A luxurious adults-only experience, spend just an hour or two here in the freestanding bath outside the tent, and you’ll be swearing to extend your booking. There is also the luxurious bell tents and private villas with

 

Glenayr Farm’s luxury glamping and villa accommodation are named in our list of 100 Unique Stays. The secluded accommodation is set on a 320-acre working sheep farm, is completely off-grid with all onside facilities solar-powered, features outdoor hot tubs and is within driving distance to Mudgee’s best wineries and restaurants.

 

For a romantic winery stay in Orange, the family-run Nashdale Lane Glamping is a boutique option for those who want to spoil their other half (for a minimum of two nights) at a cellar door. Sip on local Orange wine on the deck, before retiring to your four-poster bed.

Restaurants & pubs in Central West NSW

At Cowra, start your day at Breakout Brasserie, a charming little local that has the goods when it comes to gluten-free and breakfast options. Atmospheric and aesthetically gorgeous, The Auctioneer cafe in Dubbo serves up fresh French pastries and a seasonal breakfast and lunch menu.

 

If you’re in Orange, the hipster-esque Byng Street Local Store serves a cracking coffee, as well as food from breakfast to dinner. Tuck into a plate of salmon, dill and potato croquettes and settle in for a long brunch. Alternatively, the artisan Racine Bakery serves up butter pastry pies and sausage rolls six days a week.

 

For a winery long lunch or romantic dinner with a glass of some of Mudgee’s finest, book in at Pipeclay Pumphouse at the Robert Stein Vineyard & Winery for a set menu built out with local and homegrown produce. There are many restaurants to choose from in Orange, but for fine-dining, the hatted Lolli Redini is hard to go past.

 

For a more boisterous affair, the Elton’s Mudgee gastropub is a casual, yet stylish, bar that serves up share plates, craft beers and cocktails in what was once a 19th-century stable.

 

Get a serious upgrade on the packed lunches of your childhood, with a visit to Church Bar in Bathurst, housed in an old school. Church Bar serves up wood-fired pizza, happy hour drinks and good times.

Getting to Central West NSW

To get to Central West NSW by car from Sydney, you’ll need to cross the Blue Mountains. It’s a two-hour trip to Lithgow in the foothills, two hours and 45 minutes to Bathurst, 2.5 hours to Oberon, 3.5 hours before you reach Orange or Mudgee, four hours to Cowra, and five hours to Dubbo.

 

NSW TrainLink runs daily services from Sydney to Lithgow. Take this and jump on one of the coach services that go to Mudgee or Orange, or simply fly direct to Mudgee, Orange or Bathurst airport.

Best time to visit

In winter the thermometer in the Central West drops, and you’re in with a shot of seeing snowflakes fall in Orange. In summer, temperatures out in Mudgee and Orange can reach the high thirties.

 

Spring and autumn are pleasant in between, with plenty of festivals to boot. Catch the Mudgee Food and Wine Festival in September, Orange’s Wine Festival in October, Bathurst 1000 motorsport race in November, and F.O.O.D Week festival in April.

 

Travel Deals

× Newsletter logo