Bathurst, Carcoar and Millthorpe, cherry blossoms and tulips

13 October

Odometer: 5890 km

We are staying in Bathurst for a week. Plenty of time to get some laundry done, spent some time chilling, and I finally managed to beat Mike at Scrabble!!!!

Bathurst is a lovely country town set amongst the rolling hills along the Macquarie River. The town was established in 1815 and is the oldest inland town in Australia. In the 1850s gold was found in the hills surrounding the town and the population grew quickly. The goldrush ended early in the 20th century, and the current focus of the town is on agriculture, education and being a regional centre of government.

Bathurst is similar in size to Orange and Dubbo, all have a population of around 40,000. Where Dubbo has the zoo, and Orange an even more serious food and wine scene, Bathurst is famous for the big hill just next to town called Mount Panorama. It is the scene of a number of car races each year, culminating in the 1000 km Bathurst-1000 touring car race, considered the pinnacle of motorsport in Australia. Although it is taking place this year, due to Covid-19 restrictions spectator numbers are limited to only 4000 a day. We happen to be here in the week leading up to the race.

Bathurst also has a rather grand Victorian courthouse and several other grand buildings from the late 19th century. There are a number of museums housed in these. Our favourite, the “Minerals and Fossils Museum” is located in the 1876 Public School Building, both the exhibit and the building are extremely well presented.

The town centre has a number of wonderful parks which are currently an eye watering shade of green and framed by a large number of blooming cherry trees. These parks, complete with duck pond and band stand, feel very old-worldy English.

Food in Bathurst is generally great and good coffee is easy to find. There is a lovely 50’s ice cream parlour called Annie’s which has very generous serves of ice cream in a funky setting with lots of pink, plastic and formica.

There are a number of small historic towns in the area and we visited two in the last couple of days.

Carcoar is a very small town that time and Telstra forgot. There was no mobile phone reception at all, only 50 km from Bathurst. But we have been assured by Telstra that it is going to improve soon! Carcoar was the third oldest settlement in this area (1835), and the majority of the town has been heritage listed. It a great little village to walk around. It only has around 200 inhabitants and has a lovely old-country vibe. There are a number of restaurants and shops, and an interesting old stable that was built by convict labour and now houses a small museum.

Carcoar also has a small park dedicated to Kurt Fearnley, celebrating the Australian paralympian who grew up here.

As with other small towns depending heavily on tourism, note that most places are just open on the weekends!

We also visited Millthorpe, a slightly larger town, established in 1836 amongst more gentle rolling green hills. It has a range of heritage listed buildings, art galleries and restaurants and also a railway station. The fact that the hills around Carcoar were too steep to get a railway down to it, stopped it from growing bigger. Millthorpe was and is still accessible by train, key to its further development.

We have an excellent lunch here and admire the various vintage cars rolling / puttering past. We walk off our lunch and then follow the signs and descend on the local cellar door (Angullong wines, Orange). The staff are very friendly and the wines are easy to drink. We end up going home with 8 bottles, including two sparkling Ros├ęs!

  • Best coffee: Ristretto (for a smooth take-away coffee) on Howick Street, or The Hub (for a stronger sit down coffee) on Keppel Street, both in Bathurst.
  • Accomodation: We are staying in an AirBnB called “Little Rankin Cottage” on Rankin Street. Originally from the 1800’s, it has been lovely restored and extended, providing a surprisingly large, Tardis like living space. A real home away from home!
  • Tip: You can drive the Mount Panorama Circuit when there is no race, just stick to the 60 km speed limit!!!!

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