The pleasant city of BATHURST, elegantly situated on the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range, 207km west of Sydney, is Australia’s oldest inland settlement. Its cool climate – proximity to the mountains means it can be cold at night – as well as its beautifully preserved nineteenth-century architecture, quirky shops, lively arts scene and good cafés make it an enjoyable overnight stop, and it has a very different feel to anywhere on the baking plains further west. The settlement was founded by Governor Macquarie in 1815, but Bathurst remained nothing more than a small convict and military settlement for years, only slowly developing into the main supply centre for the rich surrounding pastoral area. It was the discovery of gold nearby at Lewis Ponds Creek at Ophir in 1851, and on the Turon River later the same year, which changed the life of the town and the colony forever. Soon rich fields of alluvial gold were discovered in every direction and, being the first town over the mountains for those on the way to the goldfields, Bathurst prospered and grew.

Although there’s still the odd speck of gold and a few gemstones (especially sapphires) to be found in the surrounding area, modern Bathurst has reverted to its role as capital of one of the richest fruit- and grain-growing districts in Australia. The presence of the Charles Sturt University, one of Australia’s leading institutes, gives the city an academic feel and adds to its liveliness. Car enthusiasts, however, probably associate it with racing and during the second weekend in October, rev-heads turn up for the big annual motor-racing meetings – centred on the famous Bathurst 1000 endurance race – at the Mount Panorama Racing Circuit.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Australia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The best aerial views in the world

The best aerial views in the world

Got a head for heights? If you're craving a new perspective on your travels, the best thing to do is get up high. From mountain-top panoramas to cityscapes, her…

17 Oct 2017 • Olivia Rawes camera_alt Gallery
Undiscovered Australia: 7 places to get off the tourist trail

Undiscovered Australia: 7 places to get off the tourist trail

Australia is a vast country, though most visitors stay on the same tried and tested track, ticking off well-touristed pitstops along the way. But, of course, …

07 Aug 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
The rebirth of Perth: how the city got cool

The rebirth of Perth: how the city got cool

Sun-soaked and healthy? Perhaps. A decent gateway to Western Australia? Definitely. But a cool place to spend a few days? Until recently Perth just couldn’t …

27 Apr 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook