The dish Central NSW

Road Trip in Central New South Wales (2024)

If you have a passion for travel, there’s nothing more enticing than an extended weekend during public holidays. The Easter long weekend, typically four days, is precisely that kind of opportunity. While I usually opt for international travel during this time, circumstances led me to explore the countryside of Central New South Wales (NSW). One reason was my desire to experience the charm of rural NSW, and the other was the financial aftermath of my South American adventure.

For fun big things to see on the way, read 11 big things to see in NSW.

In the company of two friends, we decided on a spontaneous road trip within Central New South Wales. Our approach was to keep the journey as unplanned as possible, with minimal expectations. We only knew the destinations we wanted to visit and the places we intended to stay overnight. With a car rented for five days, our adventure was set to unfold.

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About Central New South Wales (NSW)

Central New South Wales (NSW) is an inland region within the Australian state of New South Wales, spanning over 60,000 square kilometers. Prominent cities and towns in Central NSW include Bathurst, Cowra, Lithgow, Mudgee, Orange, Dubbo, Parkes, and several others.

Car Rentals

For our road trip, we decided to rent a car. Typically, I carefully read reviews before selecting a reputable car rental agency. Opting for a slightly pricier option that guarantees a well-maintained and clean vehicle can significantly enhance the road trip experience.

  • Opt for a car rental with comprehensive insurance and zero excess to enjoy a hassle-free drive.
  • Additionally, ensure that you return the car with a full fuel tank.
Road trip to Central New South Wales (NSW)
On a dusty road in Central NSW

Our Planned Itinerary

As mentioned, our trip was relatively unplanned, but we had a rough itinerary in mind.

  • Day 1: Journey from Sydney to Bathurst. Overnight stay or camping in Bathurst.
  • Day 2: Travel from Bathurst to Orange, then to Cowra, and finally to Parkes. Overnight stay or camping in Parkes.
  • Day 3: Continue the drive from Parkes to Dubbo, with a visit to Dubbo Zoo. Overnight stay or camping in Dubbo.
  • Day 4: Return drive from Dubbo to Sydney.

Even though we didn’t have an exact distance for the entire journey, the total distance we estimated for the four days was 965 kilometres.

Our Executed Itinerary

The actual itinerary deviated slightly from the initial plan. Since we only had the destinations in mind, it was effortless to adjust the planned itinerary.

Day 1: Sydney to Bathurst

Drive

The distance from Sydney to Bathurst is approximately 200 kilometers, and the journey offers a scenic route through the Blue Mountains.

About Bathurst

Bathurst is a regional city in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage and as the oldest inland settlement in Australia. Bathurst is home to Charles Sturt University and is famous for hosting the Bathurst 1000 motor race, a significant event in Australian motorsport.

The city boasts well-preserved historic buildings, including impressive Georgian and Victorian architecture examples. Mount Panorama, a prominent hill near Bathurst, is the iconic motor racing circuit and offers panoramic views of the surrounding region.

Bathurst is recognized for its vibrant arts and cultural scene, with various galleries, museums, and events contributing to its lively atmosphere. The Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum in Bathurst is another notable attraction, showcasing an extensive collection of fossils and minerals.

With its combination of history, scenic landscapes, and cultural offerings, Bathurst is a destination that appeals to a diverse range of interests.

Things To See in Bathurst

  • The architecture in Bathurst is genuinely spectacular, characterized by grand and imposing old structures. Notably, impressive churches and government buildings are undoubtedly worth visiting and admiring.
  • During our exploration, we focused on admiring these buildings from the outside, allowing us to appreciate their beauty without incurring any expenses.
  • Mount Panorama is home to a racing circuit as well.
Bathurst

Where Did We Stay in Bathurst?

We reserved a camping site at Bathurst Showground, and the cost for one night at the campground was AUD 31 for a party of three people.

You can consider staying at some of the motels and hotels in Bathurst. The notable ones are Rydges Mount Panorama Bathurst, Heritage Inn Bathurst, and the Victoria Hotel Bathurst.

Bathurst Showground
Bathurst Showground

Day 2: Bathurst to Parkes

While our ultimate destination was Parkes, we did make a few stops at various places along the way.

Drive – Bathurst to Abercrombie Caves

On this particular day, our original plan was to drive to Orange and Cowra, with the final stop in Parkes. However, we opted to change our route slightly. Our first destination was Abercrombie Caves, which was approximately 70 kilometers away.

About Abercrombie Caves

Abercrombie Caves is a natural attraction in the Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve near Trunkey Creek in New South Wales, Australia. The site features a limestone cave system renowned for its stunning formations, including stalactites and stalagmites. The caves are part of a karst landscape formed by dissolved soluble rocks such as limestone.

Abercrombie Caves hold archaeological importance, with evidence of Indigenous Australian habitation dating back thousands of years. The area is recognized for its cultural heritage.

Things to See in Abercrombie Caves

  • Abercrombie Caves comprise a collection of limestone arch caves within the Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve. Visitors can take guided or self-guided tours to explore these captivating limestone formations.
  • Opting for a self-guided experience, we explored the Archway Cave, with an admission cost of AUD 18 per person.
Abercrombie Caves

Drive – Abercrombie Caves to Cowra

Afterward, we traveled to Cowra, covering a distance of approximately 100 kilometers. We enjoyed our lunch/dinner at an Indian restaurant in Cowra, but apart from that, we didn’t extensively explore the town.

About Cowra

Cowra is a town located in the Central West region of New South Wales, situated around 310 kilometres from Sydney. The town is known for its historical significance, mainly due to events during World War II. Cowra was the site of a prisoner-of-war (POW) camp. In 1944, the town gained international attention when a significant breakout occurred, resulting in the most giant prison escape in modern military history.

Things to See in Cowra

  • Explore the beautifully landscaped Cowra Japanese Garden, considered one of the best examples of a Japanese-style garden in the Southern Hemisphere. The park features tranquil pathways, ponds, and traditional Japanese architecture.
  • As a result of the POW breakout, there is a Japanese War Cemetery in Cowra dedicated to the Japanese prisoners who lost their lives during the conflict. The Cowra War Cemetery is a peaceful and reflective site.
  • Pay your respects at the Cowra War Cemetery, which is the final resting place for Australian and other Allied servicemen, as well as Japanese prisoners of war who lost their lives during the conflict.
  • If you are interested in stargazing, consider visiting the Cowra Observatory. It offers guided tours and telescope viewing sessions, providing a unique perspective on the night sky.

Drive – Cowra to Parkes

The distance from Cowra to Parkes is approximately 104 kilometers by road.

Parkes Observatory

About Parkes

Parkes is a regional town located in the Central West region of New South Wales. The town is famous for the Parkes Observatory, home to the iconic Parkes Radio Telescope. The telescope gained international fame for its role in receiving television signals from the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, and it continues to be a significant center for radio astronomy.

Parkes hosts the annual Parkes Elvis Festival, one of the largest Elvis-themed festivals in the Southern Hemisphere. The event attracts Elvis Presley fans worldwide, and features live performances, parades, and a celebration of all things Elvis.

Things To See at Parkes

  • Our day kicked off with a visit to the Parkes Observatory. Renowned as ‘The Dish,’ this iconic telescope is so massive that its weight equals approximately two Boeing 747s. The admission cost was AUD 75 for a group of three people.
The Dish
The Dish
  • The Henry Parkes Centre is a cultural and tourist complex that includes the Parkes Visitor Information Centre, the Parkes Motor Museum, and the King’s Castle Elvis Exhibit. It provides insights into the region’s history, culture, and automotive heritage.
  • Goobang National Park offers outdoor enthusiasts opportunities for bushwalking, birdwatching, and enjoying the natural beauty of the Australian landscape.
  • Parkes has several historical and cultural sites, including the Parkes Courthouse, a heritage-listed building, and the Parkes Observatory Visitors Centre.
  • Aside from its astronomical significance, the CSIRO Parkes Observatory researches radio astronomy and space science. Visitors can explore the observatory and learn about its scientific contributions.

Where Did We Stay in Parkes?

We lodged in Parkes at Spicer Park Caravan Park, securing a camping site for the night. The cost for three people was around AUD 38.

If you are not into camping, consider staying at Kirsten Accommodation Parkes, North Parkes Motel, and Old Parkes Convent.

Spicer Park Caravan Park

Day 3: Parkes to Dubbo

Drive – Parkes to Dubbo

Following our stay in Parkes, we embarked on the journey from Parkes to Dubbo. The distance covered is approximately 123 kilometers.

About Dubbo

Dubbo is a vibrant city situated in the Central West region of New South Wales. The city is diverse and dynamic, offering a mix of wildlife experiences, historical sites, cultural attractions, and opportunities for outdoor recreation. It is a popular destination for families, nature lovers, and those interested in exploring regional Australian heritage.

Things To See in Dubbo

  • One of Dubbo’s major attractions is the Taronga Western Plains Zoo (Dubbo Zoo). This expansive open-range zoo is home to a diverse array of animals worldwide. Visitors can experience close encounters with wildlife and participate in various interactive exhibits. At the zoo, you can feed carrots to the giraffes. The entrance fee for three people is AUD 144. We also participated in the Morning Walk at Dubbo Zoo. I highly recommend this activity, as the Zoo Keeper takes you behind the scenes, providing valuable insights into the animal habitats. The cost for this experience was AUD 25 per person.
Dubbo Zoo
  • The Old Dubbo Gaol is a historic site that provides insight into the region’s past. Visitors can explore the gaol’s cells, gallows, and museum exhibits to learn about the history of incarceration in Dubbo.
  • Dubbo is home to the Royal Flying Doctor Service Visitor Experience, where visitors can learn about the vital role played by the Flying Doctor Service in providing medical assistance to remote areas.
  • Star gazing at Dubbo Observatory was the highlight of my road trip, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had the unique opportunity to capture the Orion Nebula, something I had never done before. It was a pretty cool experience. The cost for this stargazing adventure was AUD 75 for three people.
Orion Nebula
Orion Nebula

Where Did We Stay in Dubbo?

We secured a camping site at Dubbo Holiday Park, and the cost for three people was approximately AUD 55.

If camping in your caravan, visit the Caravan Camping website for the best camping equipment solutions.

Dubbo has a range of holiday homes and motels. You can consider staying at Hamptons Cottage, Windsor, and Castlereagh Hotel.

 

Day 4: Dubbo to Sydney

Drive: Dubbo to Wellington

Following our morning zoo walk, we packed our tents and set out for Orange. However, we altered our plan and made an impromptu stop at Wellington. Wellington is a quaint town with a couple of historical sites to explore. The distance between Dubbo and Wellington is 51 kilometres.

About Wellington

Situated on the Macquarie River, approximately 362 kilometers west of Sydney, Wellington is a small town located in the Central West region of New South Wales. While Wellington may be a smaller town, it offers a blend of natural attractions, historical sites, and cultural experiences for those passing through or seeking a quieter destination in the Central West. The Wellington Caves and the town’s connection to the Macquarie River contribute to its appeal to visitors.

Things to See in Wellington

  • Wellington is known for the Wellington Caves, a series of limestone caves that are a popular tourist attraction. The caves, including the Cathedral Cave and Gaden Cave, feature impressive stalactite and stalagmite formations.
  • The town is home to the Bicentennial Pioneer Museum, which showcases the history of Wellington and the surrounding region. The museum features exhibits on early settlement, agriculture, and local Indigenous heritage.
  • Outdoor enthusiasts can explore Mount Arthur Reserve, offering bushwalking trails and scenic views of the surrounding landscape. The reserve is known for its diverse flora and fauna.
  • The area around Wellington has significant Aboriginal heritage, and visitors can learn about the region’s rich Indigenous history and culture.

Drive: Wellington to Orange

After departing from Wellington, our journey continued to Orange, a wonderful place. The roads are adorned with stunning trees along the sides, enhancing the drive’s scenic beauty. The distance between Wellington and Orange is approximately 82 kilometers.

About Orange

Renowned for its cool climate and is part of a thriving wine region, Orange is known for producing high-quality cool-climate wines, particularly Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Shiraz. It is a charming city located in the Central Tablelands region of New South Wales. The city boasts a mix of historic and contemporary architecture.

Orange is a destination that appeals to those seeking outdoor activities, culinary experiences, and a relaxed atmosphere.

Things to See in Orange

  • The Orange Botanic Gardens offer a peaceful retreat with well-maintained gardens, walking paths, and various plant collections. The parks are a popular spot for picnics and strolls.
  • The majestic Mount Canobolas, an extinct volcano, is located near Orange. It offers hiking trails and panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. In winter, the mountain occasionally sees snowfall.
  • Visitors can explore the heritage-listed buildings in the city center, reflecting its colonial past. Notable structures include the Orange Courthouse and St. Joseph’s Church.
  • The Orange Railway Station is a heritage-listed building that reflects the city’s historical connection to the railway.
Orange Railway Station
Orange Railway Station

Drive: Orange to Sydney

And then, the moment to journey back home arrived. The distance from Orange to Sydney spans approximately 256 kilometers.

Distance Covered on Road Trip in Central New South Wales

In total, we covered a distance of 1000 kilometers. The journey through Central NSW was truly remarkable, with the roads in excellent condition. This road trip is well-suited for 2WD vehicles, making it accessible and enjoyable for many travelers.

Safety for Solo Female Travelers

Traveling in Central New South Wales (NSW) is completely safe, including for solo female travelers. However, exercise caution during dawn, dusk, and nighttime driving due to the presence of kangaroos. Collisions with kangaroos can pose significant risks, so it’s advisable to be extra vigilant during these periods.

Abercrombie

Closing Notes

Our four-day journey took us through various destinations in Central New South Wales (NSW), making it an enjoyable and fulfilling road trip. April proved to be an ideal choice, with pleasant weather that balanced between not being too hot or too cold.

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    How can you support me?
    You know how much I love coffee, so you can buy me a coffee – Buy me Coffee!

    Or you can purchase from one of the below travel resources without any extra charge to you:
    Travel Resources
    Book your flight on Skyscanner.com or Trip.com
    Reserve your accommodation on Stay22
    Reserve your stay at a hostel on HostelWorld
    Use RentalCars or DiscoverCars for hiring self-driven cars
    Book your tours and travels or purchase tickets on Viator or GetYourGuide
    For a universal SIM card, use DrimSim
    Buy comprehensive travel insurance on SafetyWing and WorldNomads

    If you liked this article and if it was helpful in your planning or traveling, do share, tweet, or pin this post.

    Follow me on Instagram | Facebook | YouTube | Twitter | LinkedIn

    Do you have a question? Do you want any suggestions and tips for travel, hikes, and scuba dives? Use the Subscription box below to sign up and get updates by email.

    Learn how to plan more, travel more, & live more

    Get valuable travel tips and tricks, travel inspirations and listen to my stories in your inbox.

    Road Trip in Central New South Wales (2024)
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