Limestone caves, gardens and farmstays in the NSW Central West

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The Jenolan Caves

Although the Bathurst Region was not directly affected by the summer bushfire crisis, tourism was hit hard as a result of several combining factors. Bells Line of Road, a major route to the region from Sydney, was closed for 12 days in December 2019. The main route, The Great Western Highway, also closed twice over the same period.

The Blue Lake at the Jenolan Caves. Image: Destination NSW

The Jenolan Caves was closed throughout January 2020, as it was under threat from the Green Wattle Creek bushfire. Several outbuildings were lost, and firefighters worked tirelessly to protect the heritage-listed Caves House, which reopened at the end of the month. But a week later, heavy rainfall and flash flooding caused landslides, blocking the only remaining open road into Jenolan Caves, forcing the closure of the popular tourist destination again. It reopened in late February, with a limited timetable, but surrounding bushwalks and some cave tours remain closed due to bushfire and flood damage.

Kids at the Bathurst Rail Museum

Check out the Mt Panorama Circuit racing track, go fossicking in Sofala and visit Australia’s largest privately-owned, cool climate garden, Mayfield Garden, near Oberon. The Bathurst Rail Museum, which opened in late February, has a kids’ room containing the largest fixed BRIO set in the world, a café where you can enjoy lunch inside a restored timber train carriage, and a HO scale model railway modelling the Tarana to Bathurst line. The museum is housed in the historic railway workers cottage, displaying the social history of Bathurst as a railway town, with stories from former railway workers on how the railway line opened NSW up to the west. Farmstays, such as Barcoos Farmstays Bathurst, are a great accommodation option, or stay in a self-contained cottage or in a motel in town.

Angela Saurine
Angela Saurine
Angela Saurine is an award-winning travel and lifestyle writer and proud mum who lives in Sydney. She started out in journalism in local newspapers before setting off to explore the world for two years, living at Whistler ski resort in Canada and in London. On her return home, her passion for adventure led to a role as national travel reporter at News Corp Australia – a position she held for four years before embarking on a freelance career. She loves skiing, islands, expedition cruising, eco-tourism and Indigenous tourism.