Bathurst and its surrounding towns certainly have a lot to offer anyone interested in Australian history. After all, this city, Australia’s oldest inland European settlement, began its life in 1815 and grew in the 1850s when the gold rush began. A town that proudly preserves its heritage – think workers cottages, grand mansions slab huts and exquisite turn-of-the-century buildings – Bathurst is the perfect mix of old and new.
Did you know that former Prime Minister Ben Chifley was born in Bathurst in 1885? His home is now an important part of Bathurst’s history – this surprisingly humble abode contains original household furnishings and personal belongings of the Chifleys.
But that’s not all, there is also Abercrombie House the impressive Scottish Baronial mansion from the 1870s, the well-preserved history of the nearby village of Hill End and its gold mining past, a restored Cobb and Co Coach in the Bathurst Visitor Information Centre, and numerous bushranger stories you can hear in town as you walk through myriad of old buildings and laneways.
Rich culture is everywhere here, all you really need to do is look and listen. Restaurants are housed in buildings that were once hotels or the town’s post office; lanes are named after gangs of bush rangers who were captured and hanged for robbing townsfolk.
And then there is the beauty of the city’s Victorian park, the gorgeous Machattie Park, with its bandstand, a begonia house and a delightful fountain, all remnants from a bygone era. Bathurst is an exciting mix borne of a spectacular history that really has to be seen to be believed.
The streets of Bathurst Town Square are filled with the tales of the nation, from the colonial Bathurst Courthouse to the gardens of Kings Parade, which are home to the Boer War Memorial and the War Memorial Carillon. Reminisce at the art deco architecture of George Street, grab a coffee at Moubar Vintage and stroll down Ribbon Gang Lane, whose namesake made up one of the most notorious bushranger gangs in Australia’s history.
This isn’t your average, early-morning commuter railway station. The heritage-listed Bathurst Railway Precinct is a Victorian Tudor-style station and conjures up glamorous images of rail travel in the Gold Rush days. Former Prime Minister, Ben Chifley, famously worked here.
Abercrombie House is the place to channel your inner Jane Austen and act "proper" over a pot of tea and a plate of scones. Built in the 1870s by Bathurst pioneers the Stewart family, today the regal dwelling has opened its doors to royalty and offers tours, delicious high teas, jazz nights and performances.
Find little nuggets of gold history at the History Hill Museum with a collection of memorabilia and artefacts from the gold rush days displayed around the old, rustic building. You can even try to gold pan to find your own fortune.
10 Busby Street, South Bathurst
02 6333 1111
Home of former Australian Prime Minister, Ben Chifley and his wife Elizabeth, this Victorian residence and living museum is a time capsule to life in the 1940s. The humble dwelling has been kept exactly how Ben and Elizabeth would have known it, along with changing exhibitions in the adjoining Chifley Home Education Centre revealing the fascinating ways of life in the Depression years and beyond.
The Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum is a stunning reminder that there are many things in the world so beautiful that they don’t require a filter, including those in the Somerville Collection. The world class collection of over 2,000 fossils and mineral specimens is housed in the historic 1876 Bathurst Public School building with a Tyrannosaurus rex to top it off.
Considered one of the finest examples of Victorian public architecture, the courthouse is constructed of local brick, sandstone detail and a remarkable octagonal dome designed by renowned colonial architect James Barnet.
Take a step back in time and discover a world of Aboriginal artefacts, convict and colonial era, goldmining history and the life of our early pioneers. See how the people lived through the extensive collection of everyday items from the past.
Pack a picnic, jump on a bike and explore the opening chapters of the colonial settlement of inland Australia. You will come across the Pillars of Bathurst cultural heritage garden, the historic Denison Bridge and Macquarie’s Flagstaff.