Bathurst (New South Wales)
Founded in 1815 as the first inland European settlement on the Australian continent, Bathurst quickly became a regional centre of outback expansion and became an exceedingly wealthy town during the first wave of the Australian gold rush in the 1850s. Today it is a modern rural city, with good visitor facilities. It plays off its gold rush heritage to attract visitors.
Bathurst has greater temperature extremes than its coastal neighbours. With hot temperatures on many summer days, and an occasional day of snowfall in winter.
Bathurst is approximately three hours drive west of Sydney. Cross the Blue Mountains on either the Great Western Highway from the Penrith area or the Bells Line of Road from the Windsor area. On the other side of the mountains, follow the Great Western Highway from Lithgow to Bathurst.
The road between Lithgow and Bathurst is straight and quick, however expect significant traffic delays when crossing the Blue Mountains away from Sydney on a Friday afternoon or returning to Sydney at the end of a weekend.
By train and bus
To understand the train services and pricing to and from Bathurst, you need to know a little bit of the history of ownership of train services to Bathurst.
NSW train services were run by two organisations Countrylink and Cityrail. With Cityrail operating the greater Sydney metropolitan trains, and Countrylink operating the regional state services. Both of these organisations ran trains to Bathurst - being the furthest extent of the Cityrail network, and also a major destination on the Countrylink network. Countrylink ran booked services to Bathurst, with the trains running Sydney to Dubbo. They also ran coaches connecting with the Cityrail trains at Lithgow. Cityrail also ran the train service (outbound from Bathurst in the morning, and inbound to Bathurst in the evening) between Sydney and Bathurst. You could book the Countrylink coach either through Cityrail or Countrylink, however the price was considerably cheaper to do so through Cityrail. The Cityrail train was the same price as the coach. However, the Countrylink train to Dubbo was more expensive.
In 2013 these organisations were disbanded, and a new organisation NSW trains took over running all trains to Bathurst. However, the ticketing and price variations are unchanged. That is the Bathurst unbooked train is cheaper than the booked service You can also use the Sydney Trains tickets on the service. It is also cheaper to book the Bathurst coach this way from Lithgow. Buy your ticket from a station, and they can book the coach for you. Tickets for these services can only be bought on the day. If you book the Dubbo service to Bathurst, or for some reason want to book the coach through the NSW Trainlink, the cost will be greater.
So, NSW Trainlink runs a daily booked train service from Sydney to Dubbo and return that stops at Bathurst outbound in the mornings, and inbound in the afternoons. This train does give the option of a day-trip to Bathurst.
Alternatively, you can use the unbooked extended Sydney train network to get there, by catching a Lithgow train and changing to a coach at Bathurst. These connecting services run a few times a day, and take about 30 minutes longer than the booked service but are less than a quarter of the price. There is also a single unbooked train doing the run from Bathurst to Sydney. Leaving Sydney every evening and returning the following morning, it is primarily designed to allow Bathurst residents a day in Sydney, but it is a good way to access Bathurst from Sydney on a Friday evening.
Rex offers several flights from Sydney to Bathurst Airport IATA: BHS daily. The airport is around 8km from the centre of town, and you can pre-book a rental car at the terminal, or take a taxi. Australia Wide Coaches have daily connections to Sydney airport.
Australia Wide Coaches have an express service from Bathurst to the Sydney City and on to Sydney airport every morning, and return in the afternoon. Price is less than the booked regional train service, but more than unbooked intercity train service.
Most attractions are within five or six blocks of the Bathurst train station.
Transport NSW offers bus service in and around Bathurst. The most useful route for tourists is route 822 that operates in the central business district. This bus stops at the train station, the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum, Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, some hotels and restaurants.
The Bathurst visitors information has three self-guided walking tours available to explore the history of Bathurst.
- Holy Trinity Church, Kelso - the first inland church in Australia, built to serve the Anglican parish of Kelso that was founded in 1825. It was the first Australian church consecrated by a bishop and is built on a hill overlooking Bathurst, surrounded by an historical cemetery. Gilmour Street, Kelso, NSW 2795. Phone (02) 6332 4606. Opening Times: Sundays 1:30PM - 4PM or by arrangement.
- Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum, 224 Howick St, ☎ +61 2 6331 5511. M-Sa 10AM - 4PM, Su 10AM - 2PM. The museum is home to the Sommerville Collection with approximately 2000 fossil and mineral specimens on display. Temporary exhibitions are also featured. On display is Australia's only complete T-Rex skeleton but don't be fooled it is only a cast.
- Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, 70-78 Keppel St, ☎ +61 2 6331 6066. Tu-Sa 10AM - 5PM, Sundays and public holidays 11AM - 2PM. Monday by appointment only. The gallery has a range of Australian art from 1955 onwards as well as other exhibitions that are traveling through.
- National Motor Racing Museum, Murray's Corner, at the foot of Mount Panorama, ☎ +61 2 6332 1872. The National Motor Racing Museum showcases an impressive array of motorcycle and car racing memorabilia from all over the country.
- The Bathurst 1000. The Bathurst 1000 is an annual 1000km motor race for touring cars in the V8 supercar class, held once a year in October at Mount Panorama just outside Bathurst. The weekend of the Bathurst 1000 attracts Bathurst's largest contingent of visitors.
- Bathurst Show
- Drive around Mount Panorama race course. The road is open to public vehicles when there aren't races on. Note that the speed limit on the mountain is 60km/h and it is strictly enforced: police set up radar traps regularly. Good views of Bathurst can be had from McPhillamy Park on Mount Panorama.
- Bathurst Miniature Railway (John Mathew’s sporting complex in Durham Street Bathurst). 3rd Sunday of the month. $2.
Charles Sturt University has a Bathurst campus in Panorama Avenue in the south of Bathurst. ph 6338 4000. Its B Arts (Communications) degrees in theatre, journalism, advertising and public relations among others are particularly well regarded.
- Zieglers Cafe, 52 Keppel St, ☎ +61 2 6332 1565. This cafe does well prepared modern dishes, some of the desserts in particular are excellent. The best thing about it is the atmosphere though: nicely lit at night it's a haven against some of Bathurst's colder nights, and at lunch time you can sit in dappled light under the grapevine leaves outside.
- Citigate Mount Panorama Bathurst, 1 Conrod Straight, ☎ +61 2 6338 1888. MTrackside at Mount Panorama V8 raceway. 118 rooms with views of Conrod Straight and Caltex Chase
The weekend of the Bathurst 1000 is risky time to be driving in the area: the fans are keen to emulate their heroes, and reckless driving is much more common than at other times.
The second large town in the area, Orange, is only half an hours drive west on the Mitchell Highway, and several bus services run between the two every day.
Abercrombie Caves offer a less crowded alternative to the more famous Jenolan caves. Cave tours are available (as well as a self-guided tour). The route via Abercrombie is a scenic route to Canberra and the Southern Highlands.
|Routes through Bathurst|
|Broken Hill ← Orange ←||W E||→ Lithgow → Sydney|