Explorer Country Attractions
The Explorer Country region of New South Wales provides travelers with a sense of the the region's rich history through a variety of architectural styles. The region also features a number of National Parks.
Parkes (pop. 9500), often called the 'gateway to the stars' because of the giant radio telescope 24km north of the town (with visitor center). Founded in 1862, Parkes is now a commercial and industrial center. It is named after Sir Henry Parkes, prime minister of New South Wales, who visited the town in 1873 and arranged that the most important railway in the western part of the state should pass this way.Interesting relics of the past are preserved in the Motor Museum (veteran and vintage vehicles) and the Pioneer Park Museum. From the Shrine of Remembrance on Memorial Hill there are fine panoramic views. On the northern outskirts of the town, on the Newell Highway, is the Kelly Reserve (picnic and barbecue areas in a bush setting, visitor center).
On Peak Hill, which is north of Parkes, there is an opencast gold mine with picnic areas.
Orange (pop. 33,000) is an established town in an agricultural district. This is the principal apple-growing area in New South Wales; other products are lambs, pigs and fodder plants. 27 km north are the Ophir goldfields, where the first gold in Australia was found in 1851, bringing wealth and prosperity to the town.Many buildings survive from the gold-digging period, notably the courthouse, the post office and St Joseph's and Trinity churches. In Cook Park are handsome old trees.An obelisk commemorates the town's most famous son, the poet Andrew Paterson (The Banjo; b 1864).
14km southwest of Orange is Mount Canabolas (1395m), an extinct volcano with a tree-covered crater and a bird and animal sanctuary. A road runs up to the summit on the route followed by Mitchell in 1835.Lake Canabolas offers excellent facilities for water sports.
Forbes (pop. 8500), originally a gold-digging settlement founded in 1860, lies on the Lachlan River. At the height of the gold rush the town had a population of over 30,000; its economy now depends mainly on a slaughterhouse and a grain mill and to some extent also on tourism.Forbes became notorious for the bushranger Ben Hall, who was shot by the police near the town in 1865 and is buried here, as is Kate Foster, sister of the most celebrated of the bushrangers, Ned Kelly.
Near the town of Forbes is Lachlan Vintage Village, a reconstruction of a town of the gold rush. 6km away on the Eugowra road is the town of Sandhill.
Gilgandra (pop. 5160) is a small country town at the junction of the Newell, Oxley and Castlereagh Highways. Its economy is based on timber, wool and grain. Once famed for the windmills which drew up artesian water but have now been replaced by electric pumps.The pier which supported the first bridge (1884) over the Castlereagh River can still be seen. The Gilgandra Observatory has a 300mm telescope and an exhibition on space travel.
Grenfell (pop. 2300) is a small country town. A gold-digging camp was established here in the mid-19th C. It was the birthplace (1867) of the poet Henry Lawson, the son of a gold-digger, who is commemorated by an obelisk.Remains dating from the gold-digging period can be seen on Emu Creek. The town has preserved a number of 19th C buildings, notably the hotels with their wrought-iron verandah balustrades. In gold-digging days the town boasted no fewer than 30 bars.
Weddin Mountains National Park
8300 ha.The most striking features in the National Park (established in 1971 to preserve this wilderness area) are the Weddin Mountains, a sickle-shaped chain of hills rising to a height of over 300 m above the surrounding plains. The park has a rich and varied natural flora and a rich fauna. There is a number of walking trails.In the mid-19th c. there were hideouts in this area (e.g. Ben Hall's Cave) for a gang of bushrangers.
The well-preserved small gold-digging town of Gulgong (pop. 2050) is familiar from its appearance on the A$10 note. Also featured on the note is the well-known poet Henry Lawson, who lived in the area as a child. During the gold fever of 1870 some 20,000 people came to the town to look for gold, but 10 years later they had all gone.Gulgong is a town of narrow winding streets with many old wooden houses and shops, the Prince of Wales Opera House (1871) and the Gulgong Pioneer Museum.
Historic Site, Hill End, Australia
The township of Hill End lies amid the rugged hills and gorges of the Central Tableland between Bathurst and Mudgee. In gold rush days it was a fabulously wealthy town with a population of over 30,000 in 1872, 50 hotels and a nearly 2km long row of shops. After 1874, when the gold was worked out, the gold-diggers departed, leaving only ruins and memories. The old hospital has been restored and now houses a museum.
Molong (pop. 1540) is famed for its wool and its wheat. It was founded in 1845 as a state cattle station, and a copper mine was opened in the same year.The town features a museum housed in an old inn. 4km east, marked by trees with Aboriginal carvings, is the grave of Yuranigh, the Aboriginal guide who accompanied Sir Thomas Mitchell on his expedition to Queensland in 1845-6. This grave is an historic site.
21km south of Molong is a monument to Thomas Mitchell, on the spot where he pitched his base camp on many journeys of exploration.
The double town of Forster-Tuncurry (pop. 14,540), the two parts of which are linked by a modern bridge, lies on both sides of Wallis Lake. It is a popular holiday resort with excellent facilities for water sports and fishing.Near the town are more than a dozen good beaches. The beautiful Lakes Way runs along the shores of Myalls, Smiths and Wallis Lakes.
Forster-Tuncurry offers excursions to Myall Lakes National Park (Bulahdelah), 30km south, and to Booti Booti National Park.
Mudgee (pop. 7440) is one of the oldest towns to the west of the Blue Mountains. Laid out in 1838 to the design of Robert Hoddle, who later planned Melbourne, it lies in a beautiful setting on the Cudgegong River.Many old buildings have been preserved in the town center (churches, railway station, Town Hall, Colonial Inn Museum, police station, post office).
To the west of Mudgee is Burrendong Dam (artificial lake), to the east Windamere Dam (water sports, fishing, camping).
The little country town of Condobolin (pop. 3500), established about 1840 and lies on the Lachlan River, in the center of a red-soil plain (wool, lamb meat, wheat). Mount Tilga, to the north of the town, is the geographical center of New South Wales.
40km west of Condobolin is the burial place of an Aboriginal chieftain.
Dubbo (pop. 28,100) was formerly an important staging post for herds of cattle on their way to Victoria; it is now noted for its cattle market. There are also large cattle and sheep farms round the town.There is a Museum, the Old Dubbo Jail, and handsome 19th C houses for visitors to see.
Western Plains Zoo
Western Plains Zoo is Australia's largest wildlife park (area 300ha), with animals from all parts of the world roaming in natural surroundings.The Zoo is home to over 1,000 animals including some threatened species.
Address: Bradleys Head Road, Box 20, Mosman, NSW 2088, Australia
Opening hours: 9am-5pm
Always opened on: Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in AUD: Family $98.50, Adult $39.00, Senior $23.00, Students $23.00, Child $19.00, Child 3 & under FREE
Guides: Guided tour available as optional extra.
West Wyalong, Australia
Once a gold-mining settlement, West Wyalong (pop. 3800), situated at the junction of the Mid Western and Newell Highways, is now the business center of a prosperous wheat, wool and mixed farming area. It has an interesting museum with a scale model of a gold mine.
Coonabarabran (pop. 2960) is on the the Castlereagh River.This is a good base from which to explore Warrumbungle National Park, to the west of the town. The volcanic hills offer plenty of scope for bush walking, rock climbing and camping.
Warrumbungle National Park
21,000ha.Warrumbungle National Park lies in the zone of transition between the arid areas to the west and the rainy east.John Oxley discovered the Warrumbungles in 1818 on his second journey of exploration. In 1853 an area of 3759ha was declared a nature reserve, and in 1967 the present National Park was established. The spectacular rock buttresses and domes in the park are the result of volcanic activity. On the summits of the hills are snow gums, and in the valleys are deep gorges with springs. Along the walking trails are a number of viewpoints, with particularly impressive views at sunrise and sunset. Rich fauna; beautiful spring blossom.
8km west of Coonabarabran is Miniland, with life-size models of prehistoric animals and a museum. 24 km west of Coonabarabran, high up in the hills, is the Siding Spring Observatory, with the largest optical telescope in the southern hemisphere.
The little town of Wellington (pop. 5440) is famous for the Wellington Caves, 9km south of the town. One of the caves is noted for its giant stalactite, another for its rare cave coral.
Burrendong Dam is an artificial lake with leisure facilities.