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Bathurst is a must-see inland town. With its origins stretching back over 200 years to 1812, Bathurst is the oldest inland settlement in Australia. This long and rich history started by the gold rush in the area (credited as Australia’s first gold rush) has led to a large number of historic and heritage-listed buildings to enjoy. One of the best free activities to do is a self-driving tour of all the historical sites in the area.
Another fun heritage tour you can take is a food tour within heritage buildings. Bathurst has done an incredible job keeping its heritage buildings intact. For example, old post offices, hotels and banks have been repurposed into restaurants, bars and pubs, giving each one a unique dining atmosphere.
Bathurst is also a burgeoning foodie capital. With several fine-dining establishments as well as cafes, pubs and bars that have featured in food magazines within Australia and New South Wales.
If you are planning on including Bathurst in a road trip journey, it is worth remembering that Bathurst is just a 3-hour car ride from Sydney, and between Sydney and Bathurst sits the Blue Mountains National Park, featuring 260,000 hectares of untouched forest. With a wide range of activities, many stop off on the way between Bathurst and Sydney. If you don’t have much time, try and pack a lot into a little with the Scenic Railway in Katoomba, the steepest railway in Australia, running as high as 270 metres down as low as the Jamison Valley. It makes a great afternoon trip between Sydney and Bathurst.
Bathurst is full of hiking trails and beautiful scenic locations. Take in the Gardens of Abercrombie House. Rated as one of the top 3 tourist attractions in Bathurst, the Scottish mansion is just a 10-minute drive in your rental car, west of Bathurst. The mansion’s immaculately curated gardens make for a wonderful heritage experience. The inside is also available for tours, with the grand staircase the centrepiece of the home.
Made iconic by the races that zip across and around it, Mount Panorama is a must-do while in Bathurst. Full of picnic locations, you can fulfil your motor racing dreams while travelling the speed limit and drive along the Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit. If you still haven’t had enough driving fun, at the foot of the mountain is the National Motor Racing Museum.
There are a large number of museums and heritage sites, all within a 15-minute drive of the Bathurst city centre. You can either purchase a 2-week museum pass or purchase each ticket directly from the admissions desk. See one of the world’s most precious collections of minerals and fossils in the world at the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum, home to the Somerville Collection. Take a look at the museum website to see what programs, talks and tours are running during your time there.
Chug on down to the Bathurst Rail Museum. Discover railway secrets from the region and how the railway shaped Bathurst and New South Wales. The museum is home to the largest public model railway and the world's most extensive permanent BRIO set. There is even a model display of the railway from Tarana to Bathurst that is the size of a tennis court.
Take a tour of the historic locations, including the town square, George Street and Keppel Street. Home to the Bathurst Regional Gallery and other historic buildings, these streets allow you to pack the best of Bathurst into a short amount of time. Both are filled with restaurants, pubs, stores and impressive heritage facades.
Whether you have a day, a weekend or a week, Bathurst has plenty to offer you during your time. From museums and heritage sites to nature walks and tours, you will never be short of activities to do or places to drive in your rental car.