With its contemporary food and wine scene, fascinating heritage, amazing natural wonders and charming historic villages, a trip to Bathurst will surprise and delight.
Bathurst in summer is like a colour-washed photograph, bathed in a buttery golden light. Located in the heart of the NSW countryside, three hours west of Sydney, the town is reached by a curving road quilted on either side with farmland and agricultural plains and punctuated by gum trees and hilltop homesteads. In addition to the yawning wide spaces and sublime scenery, there are interesting accommodation options, exciting places to eat and fascinating things to see and do in Bathurst. For those inspired to go west, our rough guide includes everything from historic landmarks and hipster hubs, to markets where you can meet the farmers and walks that steer you through scenic surrounds. Here are four ways to see Bathurst at its best.
Art & Culture
Visit heritage villages
Take a Historical Walking Tour around the gold rush townships of Sofala, Australia’s oldest surviving gold town, and Hill End, to the north, where the storefronts resemble Wild West movie sets. Bathurst is also in close proximity to former railway town, Perthville, and Rockley, one of the oldest settlements west of the Blue Mountains. Families can pull on their gum boots for a visit to Barcoos Farmstays, which in addition to the lures of clean air and space, offers guests the chance to bottle-feed lambs, and hand-feed alpacas and chickens.
Museums & architecture
History buffs can dedicate days looking at interesting artefacts in and around Bathurst. Visit The Australian Fossil & Mineral Museum, Bathurst Rail Museum, the National Motor Racing Museum, History Hill Museum and Rockley Mill & Stables Museum. You can also stroll around the heritage heart of the city centre to see some of Australia’s best examples of high Victorian architecture. Visit bathurstregion.com.au
As the sun sets, turning the sky a pale lavender, there is a multi-faceted beauty about Wahluu, the Indigenous name for Mount Panorama. In addition to being Australia’s oldest inland European settlement, Bathurst, established in 1815, is located in Wiradjuri country, where life on the Bathurst Plains is said to extend back more than 40,000 years. There are two new Indigenous-led tours available that explore this deep cultural heritage: The Wiradyuri Nurambang 4WD Cultural Tour and Wahluu Cultural Tours.
Food & Drink
Fine places to dine
Vine & Tap is a provincial Australian take on an Italian trattoria: how else would you describe a restaurant that serves beef brisket and bone marrow meatballs in sugo? Nearby 9inety2wo has also helped make Bathurst buzzworthy. The restaurant is housed in an 1877 heritage building that was once the Temperance Hall of Bathurst, which is rather fitting given the restraint shown on the plate in signature dishes such as seared lamb cutlet on a barley and pine-nut pilaf with a tomato reduction.
Start your day strong with a fortifying brew at Piccolo’s on William , Harvest Café & Store and Doppio, in the arty Tremain’s Mill precinct. Add to your Instagram food collage with a wodge of lemon tart from Legall Patisserie, and a brekkie burrito to enjoy in the The Hub Cafe courtyard.
Follow the faces plastered with grins to B Town BBQ, upstairs at The Oxford Hotel for Texas-style barbecued smoked meats. The Victoria Bathurst is another Central West stalwart: established in 1876, the pub serves up classics such as chicken schniddy or roast beef with seasonal veggies. Be sure to check out its intimate concert space, Little Alberts, which hosts regular gigs and supports the city’s vibrant live music scene. A short walk between schooners will get you to The George Hotel overlooking tree-lined Machattie Park, for dessert followed by a traditional affogato nightcap.
Join the lines of locals, bags bulging with provisions, at the Bathurst Farmers’ Market, held on the last Saturday of the month at the historic Bathurst Showground. Wait for the dying sun to set ablaze the landscape, which you can admire on the fringes of Bathurst at Vale Creek Wines, which specialises in Italian varietals and Yarralee Orchard, which sells tree-ripened stone fruit at the farmgate. Guests at Bishop’s Court Estate can also be treated to a private gourmet dinner in its on-site chapel as part of the At My Table series. Annie’s Ice Cream Parlour is another must-stop institution on your Bathurst itinerary.
Outdoor & Nature
Start your engine
A brand-new elevated boardwalk allows pedestrians to do a 1.7-kilometre hot lap of the stretch between Griffins Bend and Forrest Elbow at Mount Panorama/Wahluu. The multi-million-dollar walkway also offers spectacular district views.
Follow the river as it sluices silver through pockets of Macquarie River Bicentennial Park in Bathurst, which includes the Ohkuma Japanese Garden.
Go for gold
You can try your hand panning for gold in Hill End, which is about an hour from Bathurst, and retrace the final steps of the Ribbon Gang on a Heritage Walk around Bathurst to uncover gruesome and compelling stories relating to Bathurst’s bushranging history.
Can you dig it?
The Golden Gully Walking Track near Hill End is an easy, flat, well-signposted walking track ideal for all ages. Amateur archaeologists will love exploring the old mine shafts to find traces of Chinese and European excavation. Look out for ‘The Arch’, a striking ridged formation.
Step back in time
Weave around the historic streets of Hill End on a self-guided Village Walking Track, where you can learn more about the area’s colourful history.
There’s a lot to do outdoors in this neck of the woods: Bathurst Bike Park is a popular spot for mountain bikers, while Perthville, Hen and Chicken Lane, 11 Mile Drive offer easy routes for road cyclists. Visiting golfers will enjoy lowering their handicap at Bathurst Golf Club.
There’s a lot of action at dawn at Cadogan Country House, a working wagyu beef property where city folk are offered a rare opportunity to commune with a range of farm animals in the lap of luxury. Tell the kids to get lost with a clear conscience by sending them out to the large hedge maze on site.
You can also stay at The Dairy, a self-contained cottage that was once the town’s main milkhouse and won a National Trust award for its considered restoration. Barcoos Farmstays also invites families to hunker down overnight in the five-bedroom farmhouse.
Charming cottage vibes
The traffic tangles and tumult of city life will feel far away when you’re bedded down at The Guesthouse, a charming cottage near the historic village of Hill End.
The paint is only just dry at the newly renovated accommodation on offer at The Victoria Bathurst, which was established in 1876. The hotel is located next to the arty Tremain’s Mill and Keppel Street precincts and is a hub for hipsters and creative types.
You won’t have far to go for avo on toast and a latte when you pull back the covers at Alfred on Keppel, a beautifully restored terrace in the heart of Bathurst. You can also test-drive your own escape to the country by staying at Bishop’s Court Estate, built circa 1870.
The Bathurst region’s layered history is evident at Northeys of Hill End, an 1873 terrace in the historic village of Hill End. The accommodation is within walking distance of the Royal Hotel and General Store and is a great base from which to explore the charming village. Or stay overnight at Chesleigh Homestead, short-term accommodation in Sofala, where you can enjoy horse riding in the rewarding quiet of the countryside.