We discover what to see, do and where to eat in NSW’s Central West for families.
5 unmissable towns in NSW’s central west
Discover the best things to see, do and where to eat in NSW’s Central West for families.
There’s no shortage of great road trip itineraries in this beautiful country of ours, but the magic of Central West NSW – right on Sydney’s doorstep – is not to be missed. So, pack up the car, bundle the kids into the back seat and put the city in your rear-view mirror.
Roar into Bathurst
The first (pit) stop on your Central West adventure has to be in beautiful Bathurst. You can’t come without doing a lap of the famous Mount Panorama racing circuit, home of the annual Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 supercar race. Big racing fans will want to head straight to the National Motor Racing Museum next, located alongside the circuit, to learn about the history of motor racing in Australia and check out the late, great Peter Brock’s 1984 Holden Commodore VK. Rydges Mount Panorama Bathurst offers fantastic family accommodation overlooking the circuit and a great base to explore the region.
Kids will have a roaring good time at the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum with over 2,000 fossils and minerals, plus a full-size T-rex skeleton, the only one on display in Australia. But if your crew is looking for a real scream, don’t miss out on a night tour of Abercrombie House by torchlight (for kids seven and up). This heritage mansion has 50 rooms, six internal staircases and a grand ballroom, perfect for a ghostly exploration.
Adventures in Orange
Less than an hour on from Bathurst is the colourful country city of Orange. The best way to start your visit here is with the self-guided Orange Heritage Trail; pick up a brochure from the Visitor Information Centre (where the walk begins) and stroll along well-preserved streets of historic villages and through gorgeous parks, taking in more than 40 places of historical interest along the way, including old mines. Then kids can pick their way through orchards and berry farms. For a guided tour you can’t beat a bushranger tour to learn about the local history.
Continue your exploration of the great outdoors at Orange Botanic Gardens, with 17 hectares of landscaped gardens to discover, and then swing by the seriously cool Orange Adventure Playground. There’s a great cafe here for weary mums and dads. On hot days head to pretty Lake Canobolas for swimming, water sports and a sandy beach.
There’s plenty of indoor fun to be had in Orange, too. Make a splash at Orange Aquatic Centre with its 50-metre outdoor pool, diving pool and indoor pool – all heated in winter – or head to the ever-popular Flip Out Indoor Trampoline Arena to get the kids jumping for joy. Orange ya glad you decided to stop here?
Playtime in Parkes
This charming, stroller-friendly town is the perfect stop for you to enjoy a little country hospitality. From pretty Cooke Park, explore the quaint shops, cafes and restaurants on your way to the Parkes Aviation Museum and Henry Parkes Centre, where both the Visitor Information Centre and Parkes Motor Museum can be found. In summer, the nearby Aquatic Centre offers sweet reprieve from the Australian heat.
The main attraction, though, is the CSIRO Parkes Observatory’s radio telescope, affectionately known as ‘The Dish’. You may recognise it as the star of the movie by the same name, about Australia’s role in the 1969 Apollo 11 space mission. Kids will be amazed to discover the world of astronomy inside, plus the on-site barbecue and picnic facilities are free for families to use.
Parkes holds an annual Elvis festival every January. Head along to see the whole town dressed us as Elvis and a bunch of Elvis inspired activities. Parkes is a small country town with a big personality, surrounded by natural attractions and epic outdoor experiences perfect for families.
Zoo much fun in Dubbo
Dubbo is bound to be the kids’ favourite stop on this epic family road trip due to its two main attractions. Spreading over 300 hectares, Taronga Western Plains Zoo is home to hundreds of animal species including hungry hippos, mischievous meerkats and leering lions. A six-kilometre circuit weaves around the zoo, which visitors can navigate at their own pace by foot, bike, electric buggy or in their own vehicle. Make a night of it with a stay in a Zoofari Lodge overlooking the zoo’s African Savannah.
Another must-stop is the Old Dubbo Gaol, a remarkably well-preserved site which operated for 119 years from 1847 to 1966. Kids and adults alike will love stepping back in time and being immersed in stories of prison life. I Dubbo about you, but that sounds like a lot of fun!
Picturesque Mudgee – celebrated for its food and wine – is another treasure of the Central West region and makes a great stop on the return trip home. Highlights include the kid-friendly vineyards, fun farm stays, ancient rock art, hiking, kayaking and stargazing
A tour of the town’s family-friendly wineries and restaurants makes for a great day out: start with lunch at Blue Wren Wines followed by a run around in the large garden, then cycle to nearby Lowe Wines, where kids can check out a mini animal farm while parents sample their range of organic wines.
Stay on a Saturday to visit the Mudgee’s markets; there’s a different one held every week! The third Saturday of the month sees the arrival of the town’s flagship market: Mudgee Farmers’ Market. Take a basket along to fill up with the best and freshest local produce to take home.
Don’t miss neighbouring Gulgong, an old gold mining town with a dash of quirk and plenty of charm.
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