... a dreamer, freelance writer, massage therapist, naturopath, mother & drop-out social work student living, working and writing in the Blue Mountains. When not occupied with the real world, she writes fantasy.
Published February 27th 2013
Get a break from the crowd
Canola Fields at Bathurst, Central West NSW
Sick of crammed beaches and cities? For something different, try a trip to the Central West of NSW. This oft forgotten region has a charm all its own – open roads, space, wide skies, sweeps of land that seem to undulate forever into the back of nowhere. With its massive canvas of land, there is plenty for nature to paint its picture upon, making for remarkable stretches of scenery.
Enjoy some space and rural scenery in a drive through the Central West.
The light here seems more intensely gold, the sky more sapphire-like, the earth drier, vaster and more fissured and there is no-one crowding your face. This is that wide brown land - so often depicted in advertising images of Australia.
A trip through this spacious countryside is generally experienced as a road tour.
Take it slow, and enjoy the journey. It's as much a part of the experience as the final destination.
Further bonuses of taking your holiday out west include lower accommodation prices than those over-populated coastal places as well as less chance of rain.
Take the highway - Central West NSW
For me, there is a mystery about the interior of Australia. The land dominates and the mystery of an ancient continent prevails. One wonders what the point of so much seemingly empty land is all about. Yet, far from emptiness, on an energetic level, there is an intensity about this area - perhaps the oft-silent voice of nature, or the Feng Shui of the land. There is also life and thriving, successful towns.
Creek near Tarana, Central West NSW
What to see and do:
The Central West is rich with agriculture, farms, history and historical buildings, old mining towns, old gold rush towns, festivals, wineries and gourmet food produce.
Brown rivers and twisting creeks, green willows, gums, oaks, broad expanses of flat land, farmland, pastures of animals and glimpses of wildlife provide pleasant rural scenery and a reprieve from city crowding and stress.
Dead kangaroo's, wallabies, possums and wombats are a common feature along the roadsides reminding one of humanities clash with nature.
Haystacks along the highway, Central West NSW
Towns to explore:
The Central West region of NSW is the area west of the Blue Mountains and takes in regional centres such as Bathurst, Orange, Mudgee, Oberon and Forbes; the towns of Cowra, Parkes and Lithgow; and smaller towns such as Cudal, Molong, Grenfell, West Wyalong , Condobolin and Eugowra.
An old church and cemetery, Central West NSW
Here's a small taste of places to go and things to do in the Central West:
Mudgee - check out the historic buildings, wineries, and local food produce of this old gold rush town. Mudgee is particularly noted for its honey, wine and olives. What a winning combination. Mudgee is located on the picturesque banks of the Cudgegong River and is the second oldest municipality west of the Great Dividing Range.
The banks of the Cudgegong River at Mudgee make a pleasant picnic site. Photo attribution: Wikipedia Commons.
Orange - is another excellent food and wine centre with a vibrant gourmet restaurant scene and great accommodation choices. With its four distinct seasons, it's particular stunning in Autumn, priding itself as one of Australia's 'colour cities'. It's also well known for fruit growing, however, don't be fooled by the name - oranges aren't a feature crop. However apples are. Almost half the apples in NSW are grown here. Check out the views from nearby Mount Canobolas - altitude 1,395 metres. Orange has a population of almost 40,000 people, making it the largest city of the Central West.
The main street of Orange. Photo attribution: Wikipedia Commons
Bathurst - partake in the thriving restaurant scene here. For petrol heads there's also the Mount Panorama Racing Circuit (home of Australia's most famous car race, the Bathurst 1000). Bathurst is the oldest inland settlement of Australia and the first site of gold discovery that marked the gold rush era.
The Church Bar one of Bathurst's most popular night spots.
Cowra - located on the banks of the Lachlan River, Cowra has an interesting past as the site of a former world war 2 prisoner of war camp. In later years, Cowra was instrumental in healing hurts from the war between Japan and Australia. Places to visit in Cowra include the Wyangala State Recreation Area, Cowra Japanese Garden, local art galleries, museums and vineyards.
The Japanese Garden at Cowra in springtime. Photo attribution: Wikipedia Commons.
Oberon – with its high altitude, Oberon has four distinct seasons including snow in winter. While I've personally never found the actual township very appealing, the surrounding countryside of farmlands and pine forests makes for a pleasant scenic drive. Or visit the nearby Jenolan Caves and the stunning Kanangra-Boyd National Park.
Snow between Oberon and Jenolan
Forbes – is famous for its bush-ranger past. Check out the heritage buildings, bushranger artifacts, gold-rush past, Lachlan River, Lake Forbes, Gum Swamp Wildlife Refuge, rural farm land or the camel races.
Parkes is best known as the site of the 'dish' – the giant observatory giant radio telescope that broadcast Neil Armstrongs moon walk to the world. It's also another gold-mining town with a bushranger past. Check out Peak Hill historic gold mine.
Blayney – This small township possesses many old heritage buildings and townships nearby. Visit the Blayney Wind Farm or Carcoar Dam or the Abercrombie Caves, 30 minutes from Blayney.
Blayney Rail Station. Photo attribution: Wikipedia Commons.
Although flights can be had to some of the main centres in the Central West (Bathurst, Orange and Parkes) most experience their journey to the Central West as a road trip. A countrylink XPT train service will take traveller's as far as Lithgow with coach service thenceforth.
To get to the Central West, take the Great Western Highway west of the Blue Mountains. Bathurst, Orange and Mudgee can be reached by taking branches off to the Castlereagh Highway, the National Route 32 and the Mitchell Highway, respectively.
O'Connell Hotel, highway pub stop in the Central West of NSW
I did a road trip in August 2015 (back to my home town) to celebrate my 70th birthday. Young for 3 days, Griffith for a week on to Junee for two nights and next day to the Temora Air Show (hubby's Father's Day gift from his boys). From there to Cowra for three days. Spring blooms everywhere, canola fields (like your photograph Linda), Cherry and Almond blossom and the best of all the Japanese Gardens in Cowra.
Now in the planning stages of visiting the towns in your article. Never been to Parkes or Forbes. Mudgee, have visited three times over the last ten years. Bathurst and Orange was en route to Broken Hill in 2016 (coach) and are beautiful cities.
Can't wait to get on the road again!
Thanks for a great article.