The Ultimate Country Getaway For Families: Bathurst!
- All Ages
By: Natalie Stanley, ellaslist
DESTINATION: Bathurst, Central NSW
THE DRIVE: 3 hours, one way
Bathurst is the ultimate country getaway for families, just 2.5-3 hours from Sydney, it offers a vibrant city centre steeped in history, surrounded by gold-rush villages and stunning natural landscapes.
The route to Bathurst cuts right through the Blue Mountains and the produce store within the Hydro Majestic complex is the perfect spot to break up the journey from Sydney. It's literally next to the highway, so is a quick and easy way to capture some great shots of the views, stretch the legs, and grab a great coffee and a treat from their produce store.
Trains, Dinosaurs and Automobiles!
Kids will love seeing a real T-Rex dinosaur at the Australian Fossil & Mineral Museum. Watch your kids run wild in the dinosaur themed Bathurst Adventure Playground, learn about car and motorcycling history at the National Motor Racing Museum, or experience a ghostly night tour at Abercrombie House.
The growing sophistication of Bathurst satisfies mums and dads too, with hip cafes, award-winning producers, bars and restaurants tucked away down cobblestone laneways. Drive to historic villages Sofala, Hill End and Rockley for gold-rush and bush-ranger experiences.
Historic sites and architecture, cultural facilities and the famous Mount Panorama motor racing circuit all contribute to making this a must-do destination to unearth in. If however, you’re lucky enough to visit on the 3rd Sunday of the month, delight your little train lovers at the monthly Minature Bathurst Stream Trains event!
The awesome Bathurst Adventure Playground was created with a dinosaur theme in mind and contains an enormous range of play equipment and landscape structures that are intended to stimulate the imagination of children whilst they play.
We loved the big silver tube slide, the flying fox, getting lost in the maze, climbing in and out of giant dinosaur footprints and roaring at dinosaurs and crocodiles!
The Adventure Playground was one of the top Weekender highlights and kept the kids entertained and running wild for an entire morning! The Bathurst Adventure Playground is located within Victoria Park, on the corner of Durham and Hope Street, Bathurst NSW.
Abercrombie House is a heritage treasure of the Bathurst Region. Built in the 1870s, today it is the home of the Morgan family who has spent many years restoring the magnificent house and its outbuildings and grounds. Abercrombie House is open to the public throughout the year with a program of guided tours.
We were welcomed on the tour with open arms by the down to earth, slightly eccentric owner of the property Christopher who runs all the tours himself. The tour offers a fascinating insight into not only the background of this incredible property but the colourful history of the area and surrounds.
Abercrombie House seem to really want to encourage families to visit and Christopher was very understanding of the limited attention span of our four-year-old little boy during the guided tour! He let us break early from the tour without a fuss, and we were free to explore every nook and cranny of the house and grounds. We had lots of giggles as we let our imaginations run wild, pretending to be Queen and Prince of the manor. Every room was full of interesting treasures from Knights armour, antique dolls houses, and hundreds of antique matchbook cars, hidden amongst the shelves.
There were some hilarious peacocks roaming the gardens much to the delight of our toddler. This property is great for kids with vivid imaginations and older kids with an interest in history. Throughout the year, they run a variety of events including torchlight ghost tours in the evening where kids get to explore the property in darkness, along with Kids Shakespeare productions, Wine and Food Tours, and other special events.
A visit to the Australian Fossil & Mineral Museum in the heart of town is an absolute must for Families with kids. It is housed in the 1876 Public School building which underwent a major refurbishment before being fitted out with stunningly beautiful exhibitions.
The big draw card for our young boys, was, of course, the centrepiece of the exhibition, a display of three dinosaurs, a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, an Albertosaurus and a smaller Thescelosaurus skeleton. You can also see Australia's largest collection of fossils in amber, fossilised dinosaur eggs, some of the oldest fossils of early forms of life, and a large collection of Australia's unique opalised fossils.
The Museum is the home of the internationally renowned Somerville Collection, which includes minerals from around the world. This stunning display showcases specimens from Australian and world mines, gem minerals and fossils including dinosaur skeletons.
The museum also features an impressive Lego display, a replica of the famous Bathurst race, and Lego and Duplo for the little ones to get creative with at the end of their visit.
During the school holidays, the museum runs Torchlight Tour – Dinosaur in the Dark! The torchlight tours start at 7 pm and the next dates are Thurs 6 & 13 July. The Australian Fossil & Mineral Museum is located at 224 Howick Street, Bathurst
Bathurst Miniature Trains
We realised that we’d hit the jack top visiting the region on the 3rd Sunday of the month, when the Bathurst Miniature Trains come to town!
Bathurst Miniature Railway Society is a community-based organisation run by volunteers. This series of tracks runs several mini ride-on steam trains, all buzzing round the tracks like a mini city. The excitement on the boy's faces as they waited for their train ride at the cute little platform was priceless.
Little train lovers will truly delight in this incredible experience, an absolute bargain at $2 per person!
Bathurst Miniature Trains – run the third Sunday of every month John Mathew’s Sporting Complex, Durham Street, Bathurst. Note: passengers must wear enclosed footwear.
For school-age kids, be sure to check out the caves in Central NSW many of which hold an interesting history. Ben Hall’s Cave in the Weddin Mountains National Park near Grenfell is notorious for being the hideout of one of Australia’s most revered bushrangers! Or marvel at the limestone structures at Abercrombie Caves just outside of Bathurst. If you want to steer clear of crowds and coach tours, Abercrombie Cave is a closely guarded local secret gem and has the largest natural arch in the southern hemisphere. Its special features include the historic gold miners dance platform, built in 1880.
Where To Eat
Our recommendations: Dinner at Church Bar + WoodFired Pizza. This funky and classy bar with its imported Italian wood-fired pizza oven is set in an absolutely stunning old Church building, with ornate ceilings and old- time charm illuminated by dim candle light.
Mr 4 had an absolute ball dancing to the live music, watching pizza makers in action, and hearing about the stories of the “robbers” from Ribbon Gang Lane! History tells us that the notorious "Ribbon Gang" was the local bushranger gang that terrorised the people of Bathurst during the 1830's. The "Ribbon Gang" are said to have been hanged in the lane way where the Church Bar is located, at 1 Ribbon Gang Lane, Bathurst.
Step back in time at Annie’s Ice-cream parlour, a local icon satisfying the sweet palates of all generations for over 25 years. Centrally located Cnr George and Church St, Bathurst and overlooking Machattie Park.
For a little slice of France, in the heart of Central NSW, head to Legall Patisserie & Café. Owned and run by a Frenchman, this Keppel Street café is renowned for its lemon tarts, macaroons, éclairs, fruit tartlets and freshly baked bread. The locals raved about the bread, and we weren’t disappointed! Legall Patisserie and Café is located in the heart of town, 56 Keppel St, Bathurst.
For the best coffee in town, arguably the region, head to the hipster café Hub Espresso Bar and Eatery. The café has a beautiful courtyard garden and gives many serious Sydney coffee establishments a run for their money! Located at 52 Keppel Street.
Where To Stay
In the City: Charlotte Apartments. Centrally located in a quiet street beside the Bathurst CBD, these newly Renovated, motel style apartments are just 5 minutes walk from the city Centre, the Bathurst Aquatic Centre and alongside the lush Macquarie River, Charlotte Apartments provide quality, clean, accommodation in the perfect position.
Farmstay: Amaroo Cottage Farmstay is a self-contained three-bedroom Home, located 30 minutes south of Bathurst. A 1900-acre working farm, with sheep and cattle set amongst stunning native fauna and flora.
Our first taste of farm life was the welcoming of hundreds of gorgeous wild bunny rabbits who appeared out of their burrows as we pulled into the farm’s dirt track entrance. Our hosts Angela and Farmer Howard were absolutely divine and invited us on a sunset tour of the property in Howard’s Ute. The boys were delighted to be taken on the tour in the Ute, along with Stewart the dog across hectares of rolling hills.
The accommodation was an older style, warm and basic – perfectly suited to our two messy little boys!
Amaroo Farmstay is the perfect trip away and if you're happy to cast off life's little luxuries, you’ll truly enjoy the experience for what it is, a down to earth real-life working farm managed by a kind and caring family.
Join in daily farm activities such as mustering stock or sheep shearing, a tour of the farm, or just relax and enjoy the beautiful district views. For more information, visit their website.
- We'd highly recommend combining your stay with a City and a Farm Stay to truly experience all that the region has to offer.
- Make sure you book ahead for dinner, all the best establishments get really busy, especially at weekends!
Who Is This Holiday Best Suited For?
Beautiful Bathurst is set in a wonderful natural environment with a colourful history and heritage. There really is something for everyone, families can enjoy the stunning open space and nature, the museums, the awesome adventure playground, the amazing mini steam train rides, the heritage treasure of the Bathurst Region - Abercrombie House, or simply sit back and experience the yummy local produce.
Don't Miss The Bathurst Winter Festival
Winter is one of the best time for families to visit with frosts and occasional snow and the action packed Bathurst Winter Festival from 1-16 July! The two- week event from 1-16 July embraces the diverse seasonality of the region revealing a hidden gem with a surprise around each corner.
Staged in the beautiful, heritage CBD of Bathurst, the festival is a showcase of all that is vibrant, creative and unique in the region. Watch buildings come alive through static and interactive illumination breathing life into the historic architecture.
You can amuse yourself in the Winter Playground, sampling the charm of the outdoor Bathurst Ice Rink, the giant Ferris wheel and magical two-story carousel every day of the Bathurst Winter Festival. Delight your senses with the two special festival event nights, “Ignite the Night” Saturday 1 July and “Brew and Bite” Saturday 8 July
Or, for the train obsessed, don’t forget to time your weekender for the 3rd Sunday of the month, so you can take advantage of the Bathurst Miniature Trains event!
For more winter school holidays 2017 ideas in Bathurst, click here.
For more great things to do and see with the family whilst in Bathurst, click here.