Punching way above its weight when it comes to out of this world family fun, you’ll want to stay a few days to enjoy all the great things to do in Parkes with kids.
Surrounded by natural attractions and fabulous outdoor experiences in Central NSW, the perky town of Parkes is rich with history, infused with street art and the proud home of the icon of Australian technology and innovation, “The Dish”.
Friendly and funny, warm and oh so welcoming, this awesome little town is also home to the hip shaking Parkes Elvis Festival.
After our exploring the area on our Central West road trip, here we’re sharing a few of our favourite places to eat, stay and experience in Parkes with kids.
Things to do in in Parkes with kids
CSIRO Parkes Observatory
An icon of Australian science and world space exploration thanks to its role as one of several radio antennae used to receive television images of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The Dish – AKA the CSIRO Parkes radio telescope – is the first fully-steerable large antenna in the Southern Hemisphere. One of our favourite things to do in Parkes with kids, there’s a 3D theatre and kids Astro Scavenger Hunt that make any visit as educational as it is fun.
The Henry Parkes Centre
The Henry Parkes Centre has a little something for every member of the family. The cultural precinct incorporates four museums, as well as the Parkes Visitor Information Centre. At the Henry Parkes Museum & Antique Machinery Collection, visitors can revisit the early days of Parkes while Motoring enthusiasts can get revved up at the impressive collection of motor vehicles and motoring memorabilia at Parkes Motor Museum. But it is The King’s Castle Elvis Exhibit at Henry Parkes Centre is sure to have fans donning their blue suede shoes and drawling, “Thank You, Thank you very much!” in appreciation of the impressive collection of Elvis’ personal artefacts.
Parkes Public Art Trail
Eschew tulips to instead tiptoe through the proliferation of Elvis imagery that scatters the streets as part of the Parkes Public Art Trail. A fun and free thing to do in Parkes with kids, they’ll love spotting the the sculptures and murals by local artists. And they aren’t all shrines to The King, though Elvis certainly makes several appearances. The artworks are also themed around history, astronomy, pop culture, literacy, agriculture and indigenous heritage depicting the real character and essence of this vibrant country town.
Big Fish Fossil Hunt
Wannabe paleologists will want to dig in to The Big Fish Fossil Hut, located in the Peak Hill Caravan Park. Boasting an impressive collection of ancient wildlife specimens, you’ll find trilobites, ammonites and dinosaurs, as well as the “Big Fish” itself, the 4.5 metre Xiphactinuis, the largest fish fossil on display in Australia.
This public park was the site of one of Parkes first goldmines, and while you’ll find a few remnants of its past still scattered throughout the park, including a towering chimney stack, our kids were most eager to explore the park’s Wiradjuri Ampitheatre and Garradyang Garden. Dotted with artworks created by local Wiradjuri artists and plants commonly used by the Wiradjuri people for food, medicine and tool making, the space is dedicated to celebrating the culture of the Wiradjuri people, who have lived on these lands for more than 40,000 years.
Parkes Aviation Museum
Fly babies will love Parkes Aviation Museum. Located within Parkes Airport in a former RAAF hangar that harks back to the airports former life as a World War Two air force base, exhibits on display including a Bell AH-1 Huey Cobra, De Havilland DHC-4 Caribou and Convair 580.
Parkes Elvis festival
The town’s annual Elvis Festival sees a swagger of Elvii converge on Parkes for a celebration of the life and music of Elvis Presley. Held to coincide with The King’s birthday each year, the festival while on hiatus for 2021 will return in January 2022 for more hip-swivelling Elvis fun for the whole family.
Eating out in Parkes with kids
Take one small step from the visitors centre at CSIRO Parkes Observatory
for a café favourites at The Dish Cafe. Their signature Beef and Red Wine Pies are amazing and their milkshakes are out of this world.
Enjoy a hunka hunka of flame grilled burger at Burger Hub, a kid friendly diner located in the Broadway Hotel. With American style burgers, load fries and the utterly addictive corn ribs this place will rock your socks off.
Bellas Cafe and Licensed Italian Restaurant
The atmospheric and accessible Bellas Cafe and Licensed Italian Restaurant serves up imaginative and tasty Italian inspired cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Spicer Caravan Park
Boasting a great location in town, Spicer Caravan Park offers a choice of accommodation in Parkes including air-conditioned cabins, powered, unpowered and en suite sites. Their undercover fire pit is a delightful spot to gather and toast marshmallows in the winter months.
Parks International is centrally located Parkes accommodation that is perfect for families. Modern rooms have cable programming to keep the kids entertained, private bathrooms with showers and tubs plus an outdoor pool, garden and picnic area.
Parkes is located in Central NSW 359 kilometres from Sydney and 290 kilometres from Canberra. The area is easily accessed by road or via train and coach from Sydney.