The Central West region is home to an array of idyllic towns and natural curiosities in New South Wales. Breathe in the fresh spring air kayaking in a lagoon, taste the season’s offerings at a farmers’ market, explore ancient limestone caves or peruse an oriental garden – you can do it all in the spectacular Central West. A 1500-kilometre round-trip from Sydney, this is a brilliant trip for unwinding and absorbing nature’s best bits.
Drive or take a scenic train ride 200 kilometres north-west of Sydney via the Blue Mountains to arrive at the city of Bathurst. One of Australia’s richest colonial goldfields, the Bathurst region is home to the gold rush towns of Sofala and Hill End, which offers visitors a chance to try their luck at gold panning in the Bald Hill Tourist Mine.
The next stop will be the city of Orange, which has an extraordinary range of tourist attractions. Award-winning restaurants Lolli Redini – with its exquisite menu of strong Italian and French leanings – and Racine – offering a marvellous contemporary Australian menu – are local stunners not to be missed. Stop for a glass (or two) of the Central West region’s acclaimed cool-climate wines at one of the trendy wine bars – Ferment, Union Bank and Percy’s each offer a trendy, relaxed ambiance.
Less than 100 kilometres from Orange, Cowra is a sublime spot for all things nature, culture and history. No visit to Cowra is complete without a stop in the Cowra Japanese Garden, where five hectares reveal marvellous gardens designed to mimic the Japanese landscape with deep hues, manicured hedges and smooth curves. Feed the Koi carp from the bridge above the lake, pass through the Bonsai House or spend a quiet moment at the open-air Tea House.
The small town of Forbes is a quiet overachiever in its offerings for tourists. Complete the guided Forbes Heritage Trail in less than two hours to discover the Victorian classical revival of the Court House, ornate Town Hall, and St John’s Anglican Church on the main street. The Forbes and District Historical Society Museum is also a great destination, with an exhibition showcasing the area’s bushranging past, many antique relics on display and a section on the iconic bushranger Ben Hall.
Continuing your journey west, you’ll pass through the many alluring towns of the Lachlan Shire region. Gum Bend Lake, located in the town of Condobolin, is an ideal spot for fishing, birdwatching and waterskiing. The town is also home to the unique ‘Utes in the Paddock’ art exhibition. Positioned against a backdrop of rural farming land, Holden utes painted with Aboriginal art make for a compelling yet fitting exhibition.
Coonamble is a modest town of 3000 people, but is full of anything but modest attractions. Its main street is lavished with Art Deco architecture, with the Coonamble Historical Museum being a particular standout. An old police station built in 1886, the museum now displays household treasures used in Coonamble’s early European history.
For an awe-inspiring night-time experience, head to the Warrumbungle and Milroy observatories for an astronomy presentation and unforgettable stargazing opportunity. With photography opportunities available, add your snaps to the collection of photo-worthy moments you’ll certainly amass throughout your incredible journey in New South Wales’s Central West.