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 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.
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.