Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Things to do in & Near Bathhurst including the Cowra Breakout Historical Trail

Bathurst Park
The war memorials and fountain in Bathurst Park

As a history lover, I recently I had the urge to discover the Central West of NSW.  So when you get the urge what are you going to do?   Book a room I guess, well in our case.....a cottage.  A cottage without wifi or phone reception. Bliss, because the kids were not tied to their screens all week and actually enjoyed engaging with their mum and dad.

 The Farmstay Homestead in Frost

Here's a little video from 'Layne Loves' You Tube Channel, illustrating how we boogied across the Central West.  Yee Hah!!!!

  The city of Bathurst turns 200, this year, so now is a great time to visit.  I booked a farm stay cottage, 16km from Bathurst on the Macquarie river, from which to base our adventure.  We had some fabulous family down time, which I am hanging on to for dear life, before the Biggest Beach House Brat no longer wants a bar of us.  From our cottage in Watton via Bathurst, we thoroughly explored Bathurst.  We were also close enough to visit Cowra, Hill End and Orange during our 7 day stay.

The wonderful Macquarie River with her beautiful sandy beaches and granite cliff formations.  Although not really known, I am positive this was sacred ground for indigenous Australians.  It felt very spiritual to me.

Visit Bathurst Court House

A beautiful Victorian building opened in 1880.  It is still a working court, but well worth a look.  Located in central Bathurst on Russel Street. Check out the sitting times and sit in on some of the hearings.  Check out the full gamut of Australian society and give the kids a dose of what can happen if you make stupid decisions and end up on the wrong side of the law.  It is a very sobering and valuable experience for everyone.

Abercrombie House

Conducting both guided and self guided tours (check dates here) this is a beautiful home in Bathurst,which is not to be missed.  Offering set dates for High Tea and Jazz and so much more.  The house is still used as a family home. It was a real treat to visit her inside and out.

311 Ophir Rd
Ph:(02) 6331 4929

Lovely Abercrombie House Bathurst built in 1870.

The magnificent lounge room, the main stairs and the ceiling of the ballroom.

Ben Chifley's House

This one blew me away.  Apart from the fact it was like walking into my grandmother's kitchen 40 years ago, it was wonderful to think that the country was at times run from this humble home and by such a humble man.  Whatever your politics, Ben Chifley was a great Australian, who helped guide the nation through World War 2, as both Treasurer and Prime Minister.  He was responsible for the Snowy Mountains Scheme and beginning Trans Australian Airlines (TAA) to give all the returned WW2 pilots a job.  He was a big thinker and apart from the interesting social history, this is a story that all Australians should acquaint themselves with.

I truly believe every Australian should see this wonderful asset to the nation.

Guided Tours Only
Saturday, Sunday, Monday
10am & 12pm

10 Busby St
Ph:6332 1444

Miss Trails House
This historic home was inhabited by a socially prominent woman of independent means, Ms Ida Trail.  Again it is a very interesting social history of another era.

Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum

224 Howick Street
Open daily 10am-4pm Monday-Saturday
10am-2pm Sunday

With a wonderful collection of minerals and some wonderful dinosaur skeletons, this museum is of a very high standard and surprisingly comprehensive.

Mt Panorama

Apparently you are allowed to do one hot lap around the circuit.  That is only local gossip, so don't take my word for it. We stuck to the speed limit, at 60kms, but it was definitely a highlight for the view over Bathurst and the cute wildlife encounter with an echidna.

Bathurst Goldfields
Although the entire reproduction gold mining town is usually only open for school excursions during school term, you can take the kids here for a lesson in how to pan for gold, during the school holidays.

You could combine a circuit of the Bathurst Raceway with a visit here

428 Conrod Straight
Mount Panarama

Hill End Mine and Museum

A bit of a ghost town, but with a terrific museum depicting the history of the area.  Also take the mine tour, where you can climb up the mine shaft.

Mine tour bookings can only be made on the day and in person at Northy's Store, before 1pm.

I can also recommend a hearty counter lunch at the pub.  They have a nice bear garden, or a roaring fire in the dining room, depending on the season.

For the museum, visit the National Parks Visitors Information Centre
Have a look here for all the ghost  and town tours you can take.

You can also visit the History Hill Education Centre.  housing the largest privately owned gold rush collection. We didn't do this, but on researching for this post, I now wish we did.

Hill End

The mine shaft climb consists of 10 ladders

Cowra Breakout Trail 

which consists of a few locations in and around Cowra, makes a very interesting day trip from Bathurst.  I believe this trail is another one that all Australians should make their way around, as it is an unbelievable story, that all Australians should know well.

The Cowra Visitors Information Centre
Olympic Park
Mid Western Hwy
This is the place to start the history trail.  They have a small exhibition and a brilliant hologram which beautifully tells the story from a personal perspective of the events of that terrible night  

Make sure you pick up the map and ask the officer to circle all the points of interest on the fascinating Cowra Breakout history trail.

The hologram and a flat tyre.

The POW Site
All the huts are gone, but many of the foundations are still there.  The guard tower has been been rebuilt and there is an interesting commentary talking about the camp and the night when over 300 Japanese POW's rushed the wire fence.  Many of them died along with several Australian guards, as they were over run.  It is a very sad story and one we should all be intimate with.  We take our freedoms for granted today, but just a few generations ago, people were dying, so that we could have the wonderful lifestyle we do now.

Cowra Breakout POW Camp
Sakura Ave

This is a fascinating space with lots of  WW 1 and 2 militaria, including a comprehensive collection of artifacts from the Cowra POW camp.

There are also lots of old trains, agricultural machinery and cars.  It is a fascinating way to spend an hour or two.

Mid Western Highway (Sydney Road) Cowra
Open 9am-5pm
7 days

Japanese Peace Garden and Cultural Centre
Ken Nakajima Place

A lovely place to reflect.  You can also visit the Cowra cemetery near by, which has many of the graves of the Japanese POWs

Lunch in Orange

We wanted something nice for lunch, which was not too expensive.
Simply Nile  hit the spot perfectly.  Slightly out of the city centre in a suburban street, we had a lovely lunch here, which was highly recommended and did not disappoint.

Simply Nile Cafe
49 Nile Street
Ph:(02) 6363 1991

Orange CBD and Simply Nile Cafe

Drive Up Mount Canobolas

For a lovely view over Orange and environs take a trip up Mount Canobolas,  The views are stunning.

I can highly recommend a week in the Central West of NSW.  It is a wonderfully vibrant region, full of wonder and discovery.

I hope you enjoyed the tour

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  1. What an informative post! I loved all the photos and if I was anywhere in this vicinity (make that country!) I would be totally keen to check it out. Glad you had a great holiday! #TeamIBOT

  2. There is certainly a lot to see and do in these historic country towns. Bathurst certainly does have beautiful buildings. I didn't know you could see Ben Chifley's home nor did I know he started TAA. What a shame TAA and Ansett are no longer around and have been replaced with dreadful budget carriers. It looks like you found some great accommodation in Bathurst and I do like the sound of the kids not being able to be on a device! xx

  3. I honestly had no idea how much there was to see in the central west! Thank for sharing :)

  4. I would never have thought there was that much to do in Bathurst. I love a family trip, we haven't done one for a while and think I'm in need to a bit of family time.

  5. I've always liked Bathurst. Had friends who grew up around there. Great pics!

  6. What a beautiful place to visit, the kids look like they are enjoying themselves too! x


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