One of the prettiest cities in Central NSW, bucolic Bathurst is a vibrant regional city and the gateway to the former gold-rush towns of Hill End and Sofala. Australia’s oldest inland settlement, its streets are filled with heritage architecture, and visiting families will be spoiled with the variety of things to see and do.
The home of the famous Bathurst 1000, I’ve been visiting since I was a teen, though those days were more about crawling my way around the umpteen pubs in town city. Now older and a little wiser, I still have a soft spot for the pubs scene but with kids in tow we’ve discovered Bathurst also boasts solid gold fun for families.
From its epic playgrounds and museums to a food scene boasting everything from high teas and fine dining to casual eats, here’s our pick of the best things to do in Bathurst with kids.
Things to do in Bathurst with kids
It would be almost criminal to visit Bathurst without doing a lap of world-famous Mount Panorama Circuit, the spiritual home of Australian motor racing and the Bathurst 1000. While you won’t be clocking more than 60kph on your speedo (unless you want a hefty speeding fine), it’s worth the effort just for the stunning views from the top.
The National Motor Racing Museum
Racing fans will want to visit the National Motor Racing Museum, located alongside the Mount Panorama Circuit to delve into the history of motor racing in Australia through original trophies, race gear, footage and photographs and a line-up of some of the most famous cars to grace the circuit including Wayne Gardner’s 1987 500cc World Championship winning motorcycle and the late Peter Brock’s 1984 Bathurst-winning HDT Commodore.
Bathurst Rail Museum
The brilliant new Bathurst Rail Museum, located alongside the historic Bathurst Station, shares the rich social history of Bathurst and the story of its early days as a railway town. It’s a great spot for young families as there’s an expansive kids’ Brio play space and a massive working scale model of the Tarana to Bathurst line complete with chugging trains.
The Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum
Roar and stomp your way into the home of the impressive Somerville Collection of fossils and minerals including Australia’s only complete T-Rex skeleton, The Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum. One of the most best things to do in Bathurst with kids, you’ll find more than 5000 fossil and mineral specimens presented in an educational and entertaining way, making a visit to this museum like a walk-through time.
Dating back to the 1870s, Abercrombie House is a gothic grand dame that’s rumoured to be heavily haunted! The 50 room Scottish-baronial mansion certainly fired up my fearless junior ghostbusters’ imaginations as we explored its collections and gorgeous gardens. At least when they weren’t chasing the resident peacocks. Try to tee up your visit for one of their regular high teas, served with a side of live Celtic harp music.
The Bathurst Adventure Playground
Bathurst’s inclusive, all ability Adventure Playground, located in Victoria Park, has to be one of the best in the state with dinosaur trails weaving around the sandpit, climbing walls, slides, swings, rockers, whirligigs and climbing nets. There’s also a stockyard maze and dual flying fox and loads of shaded green space with free electric barbecues and picnic tables for lunch.
Gold Mining in Sofala
Just 40-minutes from Bathurst is Australia’s oldest surviving gold mining town, Sofala. The tiny town, set alongside the Turon River. Take a historical walking tour of Sofala and town for reminders of the gold rush era, or the goldfields and try your hand gold panning along the river. You never know, you might strike it rich with your own nugget of Sofala gold.
Historic Carcoar Village
Just a 40-minute drive from Bathurst is Carcoar, the most intact historic village in Australia. Well worth the side trip, the delightful village, nestled in a green valley on the Belubula River, was a thriving commercial town in the 19th century and was said to have been a favourite haunt of bushrangers Johnny Gilbert and Ben Hall, who committed Australia’s first daylight bank robbery when they held up the Commercial Bank. Known as “the town that time forgot” Carcoar has been a favourite haunt of mine since I was a teenager and my kids seemed to delight in exploring its historic streets and museums on a self-guided walking tour of the National Heritage listed town. Don’t forget to drop in to the Royal Hotel Carcoar for an excellent pub meal.
Carcoar Toy Museum
Every member of your family will love Carcoar’s Toy Museum. The enchanting museum located in the Historic CDC Bank building is home to a private collection of more than 2,000 toys dating from WW1 to now, with collectibles from Betty Boop to Japanese Anime. There’s even a dedicated Robot Room.
Best places to eat in Bathurst with Kids
Church Bar + Woodfired Pizza
One of my kids’ favourite places to eat in Bathurst is Church Bar + Woodfired Pizza. Housed in a historic Church School House in Ribbon Gang Lane, the family friendly restaurant serves up what has to be Bathurst’s best wood-fired pizza in an atmospheric dining room or pretty courtyard. The food and service ae spot as is the vibe. It’s also a great for cocktails after dark.
Legall Patisserie Café
Did someone say Tarte Citron? This traditional French bakery whips out what we think is the zestiest and best lemon tarts this side of Paris. Our favourite spot for morning tea in Bathurst, you’ll find a lovely selection of other pastries, quiches and fabulous cakes in store.
Annie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlour
It won’t take much convincing to get the kids to visit the delightfully retro Annie’s Ice Cream Parlour. Making ice cream for Bathurst locals for decades stocks more than 20 flavours including their signature Sofala Gold, a luscious vanilla ice-cream studded with nuggets of honeycomb.
NRMA Bathurst Panorama Holiday Park
Visiting Bathurst with kids? Then look no further than NRMA Bathurst Panorama Holiday Park. Located in the foothills of Bathurst and the Mount Panorama Racing Circuit, this brilliant Bathurst holiday park provides the perfect base to explore Central NSW, at least if you can tear the kids away from the pool, mini golf, bouncing pillow and playground inside the park.
Barcoos Barn Farmstay
Just ten minutes from town, let the kids experience life on the farm as they collect eggs, feed the lambs and alpacas and ride carts and ponies. Make a night of it with a farm stay in Barcoos Barn’s choice of self-contained units or a heritage 5 bedroom Farmhouse that sleeps 10 people as well as caravan, motorhome, and camping facilities.
Getting to Bathurst
Bathurst is located in Central NSW and is just a 2 hour 45-minute drive from Sydney. Trains also run regularly between Bathurst from Sydney.