I took Kalyra for a daddy and daughter weekend getaway to Bathurst in New South Wales, and what a pleasant surprise that trip turned out to be.
I thought it was just a town for motor racing or going to University, but it turns out there are plenty of things to do in Bathurst NSW that make it possibly the perfect country getaway with kids, or even just for couples!
Once you escape the madness of Sydney’s traffic, it’s an easy three hour drive away, and your reward is a vibrant and charming city centre (we caught the last of the autumn colours) and a surrounding region of gorgeous natural landscapes.
If you’re thinking of a weekend getaway, or perhaps a longer vacation, then below are some ideas for what to do in Bathurst for any type of traveler.
- Things to do in Bathurst, NSW
- 1. Do The Abercrombie House Night Tour
- 2. Visit The Australian Fossil & Mineral Museum
- 3. Drive the Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit
- 4. Visit the National Motor Racing Museum
- 5. Have Ice Cream at Annies Ice-Cream Parlour
- 6. Stay At Barcoos Barn Farm Stay
- 7. Take The Kids to Bathurst Adventure Playground
- 8. Have Pizza At Church Bar + Woodfired Pizza
- 9. Have Coffee At The Hub Cafe
- 10. Visit Bathurst Regional Art Gallery
- 11. Dine at Webb & Co
- 12. Visit The Crago Mill Emporium and Heritage Centre
- 13. Attend The Bathurst Winter Festival
- 14. Sleep track-side at Rydges Mount Panorama
- 15. Visit History Hill Museum
- 16. See Abercrombie Caves at Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve
- 17. Splash Around at Bathurst Aqua Park
- 18. Explore Bathurst Rail Museum
- 19. Have A Picnic at Mayfield Garden
- Final Thoughts
- More Australia Travel Tips
- Pin to Save On Pinterest
Things to do in Bathurst, NSW
To be honest, two days wasn’t enough time for Bathurst, but we certainly got a real taste of the highlights. When we revisit regional New South Wales again, I’d like to explore this town and surrounding area at a slower pace.
When you first arrive in Bathurst, I recommend you drop into the Visitors Centre. We always do this when we visit a new town as the folks behind the desk can offer some great insider tips on things to see and do, and you can buy something locally made.
Below is a list of activities to tick off your list on your trip to Bathurst.
1. Do The Abercrombie House Night Tour
Possibly our favourite family activity from our weekend getaway was the Abercrombie House night tour.
Kalyra and I had a ball exploring this 52 room heritage mansion by torchlight whilst Chris Morgan, the owner, told us fascinating stories of his childhood growing up at Abercrombie.
Chris was just six years old when the Morgan family took ownership of the property, and to start the tour he sat us down in the very living room his own parents sat him and his siblings in 40 years ago on their first night in Abercrombie. They had a roaring fire in the fireplace, and a batch of freshly baked bread.
We didn’t sit by the fire this night, but by candlelight, as Chris told us ghost stories and how he grew up playing games of hide and seek and explored the downstairs on his bicycle. Yes, this house is that big.
Since the Morgan family moved in they have been renovating and restoring the house, and are now sharing their stories and the fascinating history of this Scottish styled mansion with travelers to Bathurst.
The house was built in the 1870s by Bathurst pioneers the Stewart family. Abercrombie has 52 rooms, 29 fireplaces, 7 staircases, and a grand ballroom. Easily the biggest home we have toured in Australia.
We climbed staircases, visited the grand ballroom, the chapel, and walked amongst skinned foxes. A nice touch at the end was hot chocolate and cookies out on the terrace prepared by Chris’s lovely wife – I went back for thirds!
We loved the history and atmosphere of this place, and I’d like to return to Abercrombie in the daytime and take a self-guided walk through the house, gardens and explore the five outer buildings.
2. Visit The Australian Fossil & Mineral Museum
I must admit, we’re not typically museum people and it has to be something special to grab my attention and keep me interested, but the display at the Australian Fossil & Mineral Museum impressed me, a lot.
This collection of 2000 rare fossils and minerals from around the world is the result of one man’s passion, Warren Somerville, and includes crystals from over 100 Australian mine sites, plus diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds.
Kalyra was in awe of the full-size T-rex dinosaur skeleton, and check out the size of the dinosaur eggs.
Also impressive is the location, the collection is housed in the original 1876 Public School building which underwent a restoration. The museum is not huge, but it takes a good couple of hours to visit.
3. Drive the Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit
Start. Your. Engine…
Ok, you can’t come to Bathurst without doing a lap of the famous 6.2 kilometre Mount Panorama racing circuit, and no you don’t need a V8 Ford or Holden to take on the mountain!
Whilst I’m not a huge motor racing fan, I’m a sports fan and have watched enough Bathurst 1000s over the years to understand this is one of the true iconic Aussie sporting events and I always appreciate the skills and courage needed to reach the top of any sport.
So it was fun to get behind the wheel and pretend for a moment to be like the late great Peter Brock, the King of the Mountain, who won this race a record nine times.
I was amazed at how steep and windy the circuit actually is as you climb up the mountain, which offers nice views of the Bathurst plains.
Whilst you’ll feel the urge to put the foot down along Conrod Straight (the V8 Supercars touch 300km/h on this stretch) it’s a public road and regular road rules apply, including 2 way traffic and a 60km/hr speed limit.
Kalyra and I took a few sneaky pics on pit straight, make sure there is no oncoming traffic, and felt what it would be like to start on pole position.
After getting a taste of Mount Panorama, I’m definitely interested in sitting trackside one October and getting amongst the festivities of the Great Race!
4. Visit the National Motor Racing Museum
Racing fans will appreciate the National Motor Racing Museum situated alongside the racing circuit.
We started our visit with a short 20 minute movie reliving the history of Mount Panorama and the Bathurst 1000, then wandered about the museum admiring some of the famous cars that have been victorious here.
One of the highlights of the museum was Brocky’s 1984 Holden Commodore VK. We learned about the history, personalities and achievements of Australian Motor Sports.
Brocky fans will appreciate the Peter Brock tribute section, and out the front there’s a gift shop to grab some memorabilia to take home with you.
5. Have Ice Cream at Annies Ice-Cream Parlour
Judging by the lineup out the door, and by how many people on our Facebook page recommended this place, Annies Ice Cream Parlour is an institution in Bathurst and an unmissable thing to do.
I felt like I was back in a diner in America when I stepped inside with the funky decor, a jukebox and posters of Elvis on the wall.
As far as the ice cream goes, many folks suggested we try the locally named Sofala Gold variety, or bridle track.
Kalyra was having none of it, she went for a scoop of blueberry + cookies & cream. Dad, well he needed some warming up so went for a hot chocolate, which came with a bonus freckle.
What flavour are you having?
6. Stay At Barcoos Barn Farm Stay
Just a 10 minute drive from Bathurst gets you too the Barcoos Barn Farm Stay where you have the option of staying overnight in self-contained or bed & breakfast accommodation, or you can simply do what we did and participate in an hour long farm visit.
Elaine, the friendly owner, took us around and Kalyra enjoyed spoon feeding the chickens, ducks and pigs, collecting the eggs and bottle feeding the cute baby lamb – you can also milk a jersey cow.
Check out how much fun this family activity in Bathurst is.
But she can’t decide what was her highlight, the pony sulky ride or jumping up behind the wheel for her first ever tractor ride with farmer Ken – yep, she steered the whole way.
This was a fun way to experience a real working farm. I’m sure kids of all ages, especially city kids, would appreciate reconnecting with nature and a behind the scenes look at farm life.
And the afternoon drive out from Bathurst was scenic, you can’t beat an open country road and autumn leaves.
7. Take The Kids to Bathurst Adventure Playground
What seven year old doesn’t enjoy an hour of playground time? And what parent doesn’t like to let their kids run loose and burn off some excess energy?!
Kalyra tells me the Adventure Playground was a hit, and wanted to stay here all afternoon. She’s always up for the challenge of a maze and wherever there’s a flying fox she’s on it.
Located within Victoria Park, on the corner of Durham and Hope Street, the playground is based around a dinosaur theme and there’s plenty of swings, a sand pit, climbing frame, rock wall, slides and picnic tables and BBQ’s
8. Have Pizza At Church Bar + Woodfired Pizza
We love ourselves a good pizza and the Church Bar + Woodfired Pizza certainly delivered and was a top spot for a little daddy & daughter dinner date.
Located in Ribbon Gang Lane, Church Bar is housed in the old Anglican Church School House. It’s an impressive location, charming yet casual and family friendly. We sat inside but the leafy courtyard would be a winner on a sunny day or nice evening, even if just for drinks.
But come here and try one of their pizzas.
The Italian wood-fired pizza oven turns out some of the best pizzas I’ve had in a long time. I went for the Panorama: slow cooked lamb shanks with baby spinach, sweet potato, feta and rosemary. And the lamb was cooked to perfection.
Whilst Kayra got through most of her Mitre: Ham, salami and peperoni with a smokey BBQ sauce.
We didn’t have time for dessert as we had to rush off for the Abercrombie night tour but it also sounded and looked delish! To get a great deal, visit on a Tuesday night.
9. Have Coffee At The Hub Cafe
The Hub Cafe seems appropriately named as it’s a place the locals love to congregate, apparently brunch at the Hub on Sunday’s is the thing to do in Bathurst.
We had lunch here just after arriving in town and not being used to the cooler temperatures coming from the Gold Coast it was a nice and cozy atmosphere inside around the open fire.
On a sunny day I could imagine the lovely courtyard being popular and probably the best option with younger kids.
The coffee was good and with 5 menu items on the kids menu at around $7 I thought was decent value. I went for the healthy haloumi salad option. There’s jazz nights and takeaway available.
10. Visit Bathurst Regional Art Gallery
Located on Keppel St, the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery was the first purpose built regional gallery in NSW and if mum or dad, or one of your teens is into their art, it has eight exhibiting spaces showcasing work by Lloyd Reece and Brett Whiteley, amongst others.
The exhibitions changeover every six to ten weeks and for a list of upcoming exhibits click here.
Of more interest to Kalyra though was the kiddies section in the library next door which provided for some much needed down time, for both of us.
11. Dine at Webb & Co
This modern restaurant and bar is probably more suited to teens than younger children, but the Webb & Co was definitely a nice dining experience with some live acoustic tunes being played from the elevated stage.
This is another historic building, built in 1863, and the owners have done a great job transforming a former department store into a classy bar.
We had tapas style food and a mixture of prawns, wings, meatballs, and mushrooms, washed down with a craft beer.
And I got a great tip from a local, grab yourself a bottle of the Winburndale Shiraz which has won numerous awards, and they weren’t wrong.
12. Visit The Crago Mill Emporium and Heritage Centre
This is an interesting building, and keeping with the heritage theme the Crago Mill is over 100 years old and was previously a flour mill.
You can come here for breakfast, brunch, lunch and award winning organic coffee (roasted in Young), and Kalyra was kept happy with a hot chocolate and scones and cream.
Glenn and his wife make homemade gourmet sausage rolls, quiches, muffins and popular french vanilla slices, plus numerous other cakes and slices.
Once you’ve had a bite to eat you can wonder the numerous independent shops housed within, or do a bit of wine tasting at the cellar door. I took home a bottle of Cabernet Malbec Merlot.
13. Attend The Bathurst Winter Festival
Why not grab the kids and jump in your car these upcoming June / July school holidays and hit up the Illuminate Bathurst Winter Festival?!
Don’t forget your beanie and your skates for the outdoor ice-skating rink in Kings Parade in the historic town precinct (from 4-12 July).
You can also munch on a few Perthville pantry sausages and watch the heritage buildings magically lit up – the Illuminate Bathurst Winter Festival is sure to warm you up and highlight how Bathurst is becoming a hotspot for families.
14. Sleep track-side at Rydges Mount Panorama
We chose the famous Mount Panorama Race Track as our Bathurst accommodation, right on Conrod Straight at the RYDGES Mount Panorama Bathurst.
It was very cool driving onto the track to access the hotel. Standing on our balcony, I could envision the V8’s roaring past and no doubt would be a prime viewing spot during the race in October.
Regardless of when you visit, it’s an easy drive into town, just up the road form the University and a handy central base for the whole Bathurst region.
Whilst Kalyra enjoyed a hot chocolate in bed AND a movie (don’t tell sister Savannah), I thought what better way to get amongst the Bicentennial celebrations in Bathurst than with a bottle of “Bathurst Bicentenary Cabernet Sauvignon” overlooking the track from our balcony.
15. Visit History Hill Museum
Located in Hill End Historic Town, is the History Hill Museum, an underground mine and museum dedicated to preserving during Australia’s gold rush period.
The museum contains artefacts from as far back as the 1950s, including steam engines, items from colonial times, and convict history.
If you’re looking to get interactive, you can even try your hand at gold panning.
The museum has a range of tours available that take you around the museum and the mine, or you can explore the museum at your leisure.
Note the mine is about 150 meters underground so if you’re claustrophobic you may want to think about whether this is the right activity for you.
16. See Abercrombie Caves at Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve
Just outside Bathurst are some areas of outstanding natural beauty. The Abercrombie Caves which are found inside the serene Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve is a series of limestone caves, which are some of the largest and most impressive in the region.
The caves are currently closed for restoration until March 2024 after they were damaged in a flood, but you can visit other parts of the reserve and do some bushwalking, see the native wildlife, such as wallabies and kangaroos hopping around, and enjoy being in nature.
17. Splash Around at Bathurst Aqua Park
Looking for things to do in Bathurst in the summer? Then you’ll want to try the obstacle course at Bathurst Aqua Park.
This is the largest Aqua Park in New South Wales and opens only on weekends in the summer.
The park is located on a lagoon opposite the Ben Chifley Dam and features a large obstacle course with jumps, slides, and climbing frames.
The obstacle course is for all ages (above the age of 4) but parents may prefer to spend time sitting back and relaxing at the park’s picnic area while the kids play on the park.
18. Explore Bathurst Rail Museum
Another museum worth checking out is the model railway museum of Bathurst Rail Museum. Located in the former Railway Institute Buildings, the museum contains an extensive model railway collection that in total spans the same size of a tennis court.
The museum began in 1909 and was extended throughout time. The scale model is of the Main West railway during the 50s – 60s, and is complete with operating trains.
For train enthusiasts, this is a must see.
19. Have A Picnic at Mayfield Garden
Located just outside Bathurst is Mayfield Garden, a beautiful 65-hectare private garden which is part of the Hawkins’ Family Estate.
It’s one of the largest cool climate gardens in the Southern Hemisphere, complete with a 15 hectate water garden, a hedge maze, and a lake that you can paddle around on a row boat.
The garden was once a sheep farm but the family turned it into a beautiful garden. In 2008, they opened it to the public for a charity event, and after popular demand from the locals, officially opened it to the public not long after.
One of the best things to do here is to have a picnic. You can bring your own or you can visit the Mayfield Garden restaurant and order one of theirs.
Bathurst is a town steeped in history from the gold rush era and has so many thought-provoking museums and outdoor attractions.
No matter what time of year you visit, there is something for everyone to enjoy, from marveling at the amazing natural wonders, charming cafes and restaurants, or visiting the iconic Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit.
We hope this guide helped you plan what to do in Bathurst and gave you some attractions to add to your itinerary.
More Australia Travel Tips
Need more inspiration for your trip to Australia? Here are some other helpful guides…
Pin to Save On Pinterest
Have you visited Bathurst? Please share any of your tips in the comments down below!