From a bar with the nation’s oldest running license to a museum with a real T-Rex dinosaur, with plenty of star-filled nights in between, Central NSW punches well above its weight when it comes to cultural attractions. Ticking off beautiful towns such as Bathurst, Orange, Mudgee, Cowra, Canowindra, Grenfell, Parkes and Forbes, the region is easily accessible from Sydney, yet a world away in sights, sounds and ambiance.
Home to more than 40 wineries, Mudgee enjoys a stellar reputation when it comes to oenology. Be sure to stop at the Robert Oatley estate, established in 1858 and the first winery in the region, and Roth’s Wine Bar in town, known for holding the oldest running wine bar licence in Australia.
WALK THIS WAY
Lace up your walking shoes and enjoy the Orange Heritage Trail, a 1.5-hour stroll that connects key historic sites and beautifully restored buildings around this thriving foodie town. You’ll pass significant Aboriginal and gold-mining sites as well as plenty of cafes to refuel in, parks to relax in and hotels to check in to, should you wish to linger.
A SLICE OF HISTORY
Surrounded by farmland on the Lachlan River, Cowra is known for its vineyards – and Japanese Cultural Centre. Honouring those who died during the 1944 Cowra Breakout, which saw more than a thousand Japanese prisoners of war escape from a camp near the town, the Cowra is also home to beautiful Edo-style Japanese gardens, designed with lakes and manicured hedges, a paradise for local birdlife.
Home to one of the most impressive collections of fossils and minerals in the world, Bathurst’s Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum Bathurst’s Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum real T-rex dinosaur – well, what remains of him. There are also several dinosaur eggs, a 40-million-year-old lizard caught in amber and rare minerals.
Located between the towns of Orange and Blayney you’ll stumble upon beautiful Millthorpe Village, with a picture-book quality reminiscent of old England; explore antiques shops, historic pubs and art galleries. Nearby in the petite town of Carcoar – certified by the National Trust – you can take in the parks and fields comprising Carcoar Dam before whiling away an afternoon truffle hunting, savouring tea in the Old Mill Café or settling in for dinner at applauded Tonic restaurant.
ON THE FARM
Get back to the land on one of Grenfell’s Ochre Arch Farm Tours. A 385-hectare solar- and wind-powered farm, Ochre Arch’s philosophy is to naturally improve the health of the land through low-stress livestock methods, maintaining wildlife and connecting visitors to the earth. End your visit with a picnic in fields where cattle roam.
UNDER THE SEA
It takes a lot to impress Sir David Attenborough, but the English naturalist was so taken by Canowindra’s reputation that he visited the town to discover the Ages of Fishes Museum. Housing 360-million-year-old fish fossils left behind from mighty rivers that once ran through this region, long before the dinosaurs, the museum offers a glimpse into the area’s fascinating history.
In addition to being home to one of Australia’s most significant observatories, Parkes is a fascinating place to discover the region’s history and culture at The Henry Parkes Centre – a popular precinct incorporating the Parkes Visitor Information Centre, The King’s Castle Elvis Exhibit, Parkes Motor Museum, Henry Parkes Museum and the Antique Machinery collection. One gets you access to all four attractions, offering a slice of pop culture, motoring history, local heritage, churches, locomotives, and more.
ART IN FOCUS
Bushranger Ben Hall may have put Forbes on the map – you can visit a cave where he hid out, between Grenfell and Forbes – but today, the town has developed a reputation for its art. Make your first stop the Sculpture Park and Art Trail, followed by a browse through Platypus Gallery and a photo-stop at the eye-catching Gillie + Mar sculpture of a naked dog-headed man and a rabbit-headed woman forming a human pyramid.
Hill End is one of Australia’s oldest surviving gold-rush towns – with its museum displays and preserved buildings, it is now home to renowned artists who flock here to be inspired by the vast natural landscapes
Unearth your Central NSW experience at visitcentralnsw.com.au.