Ultimate guide to things to do in Bathurst with kids
The gateway to the former gold-rush towns of Hill End and Sofala, Bathurst is still solid gold for families. Just three hours west of Sydney by car, bus or train, Bathurst is one of Australia’s oldest and prettiest inland settlements. Now a vibrant regional city, Bathurst is most famous for its annual motor race, the Bathurst 1000, and no visit would be complete without a visit to the National Motor Racing Museum or taking a spin around the Mount Panorama motor racing circuit, albeit at a safer and slower pace than its racers.
But there’s much than motor racing to this gorgeous town. The Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum is home to Australia’s only complete T-Rex skeleton, fossilised dinosaur eggs and more than 2000 fossil and mineral specimens.
One of the region’s prettiest cities, it’s also the perfect place to get away from the rat race, enjoy memorable sights that you’ll only ever see in the country, and let the kids run around in the fresh country air.
Top things to do in Bathurst
There’s a little of everything in this region for everyone but here are ten of the must-dos for your list.
Things to do in Bathurst with…
Bathurst is playground central for little ones. While there are literally dozens scattered around the city, start off with a visit to The Adventure Playground, one of the best in the state, where dinosaur trails weave around the slides and swings, flying fox, rockers, whirlygigs, climbing frames and sandpit. It’s also an ideal spot to stop for lunch under the trees with free electric barbecues and picnic tables.
The Macquarie River Bicentennial Park is another must. Located alongside the Macquarie River at the lower end of William Street, it boasts a shaded children’s playground area, a peace garden and the pretty Ohkuma Japanese Garden. And at Machattie Park there are bike and walking trails around the river and hungry ducks just waiting to be fed. But best of all, there’s a great old-fashioned ice cream parlour that sells cones topped with the best ice cream in the central west.
There are loads of fun opportunities for kids to learn about with Bathurst’s rich history. The Rockley Mill and Stables Museum, built in 1864, houses three floors of artefacts including historic mill machinery, displays of historic clothing, old newspapers and more. Crago Mill Emporium and Heritage Centre is another restored Bathurst heritage icon that started life as a flour mill. Now families can fill up on home baked treats and the kids can check out the collection of antique toys and peruse the lolly shop.
At Bathurst Goldfields, you’ll find a reconstruction of a gold mining village which has a mine, steam engines and gold panning. And at nearby Hill End, the History Hill Museum offers the chance to view 10,000 artefacts from the goldfields of the 1800s. Or go even further back in time at the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum with more than 2000 fossil and mineral specimens, and Australia’s only complete T-Rex skeleton. Raar!
No one can come to Bathurst without doing a lap of the famous Mount Panorama racing circuit. And while mum and dad can choose to drive your car around the track (at a far more sedentary pace than the actual racers because it is speed limited) you can also walk the circuit on foot, before crowning yourself the brand new ‘King of the Mountain’.
Afterwards head to the National Motor Racing Museum to admire some of the famous vehicles that have been driven here, including Alan Moffat’s 1977 XC Ford Falcon and Peter Brock’s 1984 Holden Commodore VK. And at Ash’s Speedway Museum you can see the largest collection of speedway memories in the Southern Hemisphere.
Famous for its incredible limestone caves, Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve has guided and self-guided tours to explore the breathtaking underground world, plus there’s great bush walking and camping for those who want to explore further.
Just 24 kms from Bathurst, Yarrabin is one of Australia’s most acclaimed horse trail riding places with a huge variety of forest trails spread over 1,000 hectares and horses to suit all riding levels.
If you prefer your off-road explorations on wheels, Simmo’s Offroad Tours specialise in exciting eco-certified 4WD Tours that can take you and the family off road on gold panning adventures, fishing expeditions and even overnight camping adventures. Or take a guided scenic dune buggy tour through 1200 hectares of picturesque private country up hills, across creeks and along historic timber getters trails spotting wildlife including kangaroos, wallabies, goats, rabbits, sheep, and the odd wild pig along the way.
Best time to visit Bathurst as a family
Located on the Central Tablelands of New South Wales, Bathurst is blessed with warm summers and clean crisp winters. With four distinct seasons, the warmest time of the year is January and February while the coolest month is usually July, when it’s best to pack your winter woollies as the temperature can dip to below zero.
Spring and autumn are the most popular months for visitors and the most colourful seasons for the city. This is also the time of year that many of the biggest regional events are held with locals claiming you won’t find a better time to enjoy the area’s attractions with splashes of colour adding to your visual feast.
The surrounding rolling farmlands change season by season as crops ripen ready for harvest. The best accommodation deals are mostly to be found in the winter months, however you will find discount deals on a variety of accommodation throughout the year.
Family-friendly places to eat in Bathurst
The family bucket list won’t go unfilled in Bathurst when it’s time to feed the ravenous crew.
There’s absolutely everything from high teas at hotels to multi-cultural restaurants and cafes, along with pretty gardens perfect for a picnic.
Annie’s Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlour in George Street will be a real hit. Open until 9pm from Thursday to Saturday, there is more than just delicious ice-cream on offer.
Almost every month, Abercrombie House has a fabulous high tea and children are very welcome. After you’ve nibbled on the delicacies offered, enjoy a window into the past by exploring this heritage treasure in Bathurst.
If you are self-catering, the Bathurst Showground Market, held the second Sunday of every month from 9.00am – 1.00pm is brilliant for fresh local produce and home-made condiments along with loads of other stalls, as well as fun children’s entertainment like face painting, lucky dips and a jumping castle.
Things to do for free in Bathurst
- There’s no shortage of free fun to be found in the city of Bathurst. If cars are not revving their engines during the official Bathurst 1000, take a drive around the track which is a public road at other times of the year. And a visit to BRAG is a must. The Bathurst Regional Art Gallery has a wide range of exhibitions and free school holiday programs.
- The Children’s River Park Walk on Lower William Street, has picnic and BBQ facilities and is a pretty place for a relaxing stroll. And Visit Yerranderie Private Town, one of the most authentic, unchanged silver mining ghost towns you’ll find in Australia, or go fishing at Ben Chifley Dam where golden perch are said to be an easy catch.
- Not quite free, but for only $2.00 per person you can also join the volunteers at the miniature railway on the third Sunday of each month for a fun ride.
Ultimate guide to things to do in Bathurst with kids The gateway to the former gold-rush towns of Hill End and Sofala, Bathurst is still solid gold for families. Just three hours west of Sydney by car, bus or train, Bathurst is one of Australia’s oldest and prettiest inland settlements. Now a vibrant regional city, …
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Janeece Keller is the founder and editor of Family Travel. She mostly travels with her husband and two young kids. She has a large blended family that lives in Australia and Europe. She has visited 52 countries and lived on 3 continents. From camping to luxury resorts Janeece tries to make sure her family has diverse holiday experiences each year. She is an avid hiker and ocean swimmer who loves good food, margaritas and heading off the beaten path.