Odometer: 6001 km
We stayed in Bathurst for a week, enjoying both the surrounding area and the lead up to the Bathurst1000 touring car race.
Alas, the lead up to “The Race” was rather tame. Oh, I did see a dad in a Holden shirt, proudly pushing his toddler in a stroller. Somebody put red food dye in the fountain in the park, the local shops have their Holden and Ford colours on display, and we hear the buzzing of the cars in the distance as they are starting their qualifying rounds.
But… and this is the big but, there are only 16,000 tickets available this year vs the normal 200,000. Two hundred thousand spectators that in general proudly display their team colours in red (Holden) or blue (Ford) polyester shirts, stretched tightly over their substantial bellies, waving flags, scuffing burgers and beers. The car parks remain empty, the place is utterly civilised this year!
So, we opt for a ride through the countryside, which still looks gorgeous; lush green rolling hills, small granite volcanic outcrops, winding roads and citrus trees in full blossom. It is idyllic, the peace and quiet, tranquilité as the French would say so well. Probably the best time of the year to visit this part of NSW!
We drive in the direction Mudgee via small local roads and make a visit to a country estate near Lue. We admire a very nice Bentley cabriolet and its owners lovely country residence (which is actually up for sale!). We have lunch in the pub in Rylstone, a place where horses have the right of way. And then drive back to Bathurst through Sofala, an old gold mining town in a small river valley that time really has forgotten.
We also visit the area southeast of Bathurst, first up are the amazing Mayfield gardens near Oberon.
Mayfield was established in 1984, initially as a sheep farm. The heart of the property has been transformed from bare paddocks into one of the largest privately owned cool climate gardens in the world. It is clearly inspired by the great gardens of Europe.
The gardens are still being extended further, but with over 30 years of planting the heart is well established. I strolled past the Obelisk (next to the glamping spot), and through the water garden, which was in full bloom. Then through the Camelia walk. The Mayfield Garden apparently has the largest collection of camellias in Australia. I walked up towards the Chapel for a view over the gardens and the Hawkins property. And then stroll back down through the pine trees, a lovely foresty walk, to the area around the house, the Hawkins’ family garden.
It is an amazing place and you could easily spent half a day or more here, especially if you head down the spectacular maze! The Mayfield garden itself is 16 hectares and open 363 days a year. The Hawkin’s family garden, an additional 49 hectares, is open four times a year for 16 days.
We drove through the area around Tarana, past a “Ram Sale”, yes, selling merino stud rams (alas, no photos!), and followed Magpie Hollow Road (yes, some great names here!) to Lake Lyell, a lake created by a dam across the local river. There area resound to the noise of bleating sheep and lowing cows, an abundance of lambs and calves, it is the middle of spring here!
- Best coffee: Ristretto or the Hub in Bathurst
- Accomodation: Little Ranking Cottage in Bathurst (Air BnB), it is a tardis, this little 19th century cottage opens up to a large extension with a dining/living space, a large bathroom with massive walk in shower, bath and bidet, and a fully equiped kitchen.
- Tip: Mayfield Gardens, around 10 km from Oberon. Entrance fee $20 pp, or $35 pp when both the Mayfield and the Hawkins’ family garden are open. There is even an app to take you through the gardens.