Rug up and pick Bathurst as your family destination these July holidays. Bask in the brisk Bathurst air, goldrush-era echoes and the abundant activities that await en route. There’s more to this regional centre than meets the eye. For starters, it hosts the awesome Bathurst Winter Festival, which has been given the green light to go ahead this school break now that travel restrictions have lifted. Plus, numerous attractions have made the most of the lull in visitors and poured their energy into renewals and renovations. An easy three hours from Sydney, Bathurst is an awesome escape.
The Bathurst Winter Festival
Did your ears prick up at the mention of a festival? Having locked down for so long, the chance to get out is an appealing one. The Winter Festival will run across the two weeks of school holidays, from the 4th to 19th July. It will look a bit different. The Winter Playground and ice rink have been swapped out for the cool, retro vibes of a Drive-in Cinema. Social distancing measures will be in place, but the chance to relax and enjoy local music, local produce and the usual Illumination light display will be as spirited as ever.
What to do in Bathurst
Heap on the history and visit the old 1876 Bathurst Public School Building. Inside, you’ll find Australia’s largest fossil collection at the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum. Out of town at History Hill, pan for your own gold and walk through a mine shaft.
Otherwise, immerse in all things plane, train and automobile, kicking off with a pit stop at Mount Panorama, home to the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 motor race. Nearby is the National Motor Racing Museum for hardcore fans. Be transported (pun intended) at the Bathurst Rail Museum, which boasts the largest displayed HO scale model railway in Australia and the Largest permanent wooden Brio rail setup in the hemisphere.
Check out the ultimate Bathurst Museum hub here.
Where to eat in Bathurst
After lots of exploring, you’ll need to refuel. Pick from these great food options for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- Kelso Fruit Market sits on the main highway and is a one-stop shop for delicious fruit, vegetables, honey and local goodies such as jams.
- Country Coffee lives up to its name and is a great pick for latte-loving grown-ups as well as hungry kids.
- The Hub has it all when it comes to brunch, including a great separate kiddie menu.
- Annie’s Old Fasioned Ice Cream Parlour is kitted out with a juke box and Elvis memorabilia. It is famous for its classic ice cream flavours.
- Sweet Caramel is another great pick for the sweet tooths, although it also serves a scrumptious brekky and lunch.
- Church Bar has the best wood-fired pizzas in town, all named after big Bathurst Streets. Ask the staff about the legend of the Ribbon Gang of bushrangers.
Where to stay in Bathurst
- William Cottages is a great family HQ. Each cottage is self-contained and self-catered, situated in the centre of town for easy access to attractions.
- Barcoos Farmstays shakes things up a bit when it comes to unusual neighbours – share your stay with lambs, chickens, ducks, Eeyore the donkey and Georgie the Pig.
- Buddens Guesthouse is ideal for a multi-generational getaway with five bedrooms and a separate 2-bedroom cottage, all with lovely verandah views.
- Alfred on Keppel takes things up a notch. The heritage terrace has stunning and sophisticated décor and is a great base for exploring nearby cafes and vintage shops.
Where to stop on the way
It’s all about the journey – the fun will begin on your drive in to Bathurst. In Lithgow, take the Sir Joseph Cook board walk to the Hassan’s Walls lookout, which has amazing views of the Blue Mountains. Capertee Valley is the second largest canyon in the world after Grand Canyon and is worth visiting as is the scenic Wolgan Valley and Evans Crown rock formation.
Oberon is home to the magnificent Jenolan Caves, dating back 340 million years. Guided cave tours will take your family through the limestone formations at a grade that suits you. Kanangra Boyd National Park has three bushwalks departing from the carpark, including a wheelchair accessible route to a lookout over Kanangra Walls.
Visitors can also download the Bathurst – Step Beyond app for free from the Apple Store or Google Play or visit the website here.