After a short drive from Flat Rock we arrived in the fun city of Bathurst. Our first stop was at the visitor’s centre, which was a really good one. The centre’s staff were really helpful and there was HEAPS of information available about what to see and do in Bathurst and surrounds.
Inside the centre sits one of only three original Australian restored Cobb & Co coaches, as the company’s headquarters were once stationed here. Another of the cities claim to fame is that it was the birthplace of Ben Chifley – the 16th Prime Minister of Australia, with a number of references to him scattered throughout the town.
We set up camp at the showgrounds ($25 a night) and could not delay the inevitable any longer. We were going to Mount Panorama! This is where the Bathurst 1000, an endurance car race over a distance of 1000km, is held annually. Paul has long since been a fan and over the years many a weekend have been
wasted spent watching the cars go round and round!
The circuit is actually in a residential area so speed limits must be adhered to but that didn’t prevent the stopwatch from coming out and timing Paul as he did a lap. Judging by the grin on his face, I think he liked it! So familiar is he with the track that he was able to give us a commentary as we went round telling us the various names for certain stretches of the circuit.
Adjacent to the track is the National Motor Racing Museum which houses a large selection of vehicles and memorabilia associated with Australian motor racing history. It is here that for a couple of bucks we purchased a certificate to say that we had completed a lap of the famous circuit – I did a lap too!
The museum’s family pass cost $24 and included a video presentation detailing the history of the race. Prior to our visit we had heard about a racing car simulator that the kids were keen to have a go on. Unfortunately it is no longer there, apparently due to the maintenance it would frequently require after its almost constant use by visitors.
A small section inside the museum has some memorabilia belonging to the late Peter Brock – The King of the Mountain – who was a nine time winner of the event. There is also a monument dedicated to him outside the museum.
We managed to go round the track a few more times over our couple of days in Bathurst but there is so much more to this city. In fact it was the first inland settlement in Australia and also the site where the first payable gold in Australia was discovered. So much history to read and learn about.
We loved walking around Bathurst, visiting some of the beautiful old buildings and admiring the cast iron street lamps – some of which were installed in 1872. We also visited The Courthouse and The War Memorial Carillon which houses the eternal flame as well as being home to some 35 bells. Whilst exploring the city we also discovered a very cool playground with interactive activities for the kids and even cool dinosaur sound effects!
Our last night in Bathurst turned out to be a bit of a late one due to the rather loud party across the road. There was a live band that played until 2am and the sound system was very LOUD. In fact it was so loud that we had a bit of a dance to a few songs and were able to raise a glass for the speeches! So, Holly of Bathurst, we hope that you had a great 18th birthday party. Your parents are very proud of for finishing Year 12 and getting into uni. Yes, it was nice of all your friends to come and yes we’re sure they loved the free champagne. Yeah! Woo!
After a bit of a slow start the next morning we set off for the Terramungamine Reserve Rest Area, via Orange. We stopped in Orange for some lunch and to visit the birthplace of Banjo Paterson. We were a little disappointed that the only thing we could locate celebrating his birthplace was a small bust in an overgrown field.
Terramungamine was an interesting free camp about 11km from Dubbo. It is situated alongside a river and the area is a historically significant aboriginal site. There are a number of areas in the reserve where some rocks have grinding grooves. These were produced many years ago by axes and spears being sharpened on the rock, or by seeds being ground. The amount of grooves were amazing and it is thought that some of the these would have taken up to 13 hours of grinding.
Dubbo is home to many attractions, such as the old gaol and a small number of vineyards but its best known attraction would have to be Taronga Western Plains Zoo. Having visited a number of zoos/wildlife parks already, coupled with the $161 entry price we decided to give going on a safari a miss and instead called into the free visitor Plaza and recreational area. There is a playground and cafe here and the Savannah Lake where you can see Spider Monkeys & Lemurs.
We spent one afternoon at the aquatic centre, where we took advantage of the showers, visited the Japanese Gardens and sampled the wares at The Village Bakery which proclaims to have Australia’s best pies. (So far the Malanda Bakery (QLD) has our vote!)
After a couple of days at the reserve and an amazing lightning storm, coupled with a torrential overnight downpour, we packed up our soggy stuff and headed off to the hot outback town of Broken Hill.