Back in Bathurst

Tatyana Leonov  |  March 2019

Tatyana Leonov takes the Tiguan Allspace for a long journey around New South Wales, with her husband and daughter in tow.

Our daughter is quiet in the back seat and this usually signifies the calm before the storm. Typically we get an hour into a drive – maybe two at most – before she gets a little restless. We’re heading to Bathurst and the plan was to stop in at Katoomba, but now we’re cruising past Lithgow and still not a peep. She’s happily dozing away with not a care in the world.

We’re happy to stay driving too. The Tiguan Allspace is designed with families in mind, and although we’re not a big family (the car can fit up to seven people), we’re fans of the extra space. Our one-year-old doesn’t take up much room yet, but her gear (travel cot, travel pram, portable highchair and the like) does.

We’re off on our biggest New South Wales adventure to date – a trip that will see us traverse over 1000 kilometres over 10 days. Bathurst is our first stop, then Rylstone, Mudgee, Gulgong, Dubbo, Parkes, Forbes, Canowindra, Cowra and who knows where else. These are the stops we’ve planned for, but as seasoned travellers we sometimes veer off route if something takes our fancy.

I have fond childhood memories of Bathurst. As you drive into the regional hub you see a huge statue of a man kneeling, panning for gold – an obvious advert for the Gold Panner Motor Inn. We enjoyed gold panning as children in Bathurst and even stayed here once, but the highlight of every childhood visit was climbing into that gold pan with my siblings for a snapshot together. Back in those days there was no signage requesting passers-by refrain from doing so and my parents seemed as excited as us kids to be snapping the photo.  

This time, however, I’m keen to get to know Bathurst as an adult, and with our daughter still sleeping we decide to keep driving to Mount Panorama Race Circuit. 

The V8 Supercars reach just shy of 300kph down the straight, however, as this is a non-race day we have to stick to the posted 60kph. Still, even at our meager speed it gives you an idea of the skill that’s involved in professional racing.

The National Motor Racing Museum is located at the base of the mountain, and although Mount Panorama and the Bathurst 1000 are focuses, there’s also plenty more on display spanning all things Australian motor sport. We take our time reading up on motor sport heroes, car and motorbike racing, rallying and touring, and admiring the many cars exhibited. It’s enough to make us want lunch.

Harvest Cafe & Store is located next to the Bathurst Visitor Information Centre and overlooking Morse Park. The meals are cooked using predominantly local produce and are huge and delicious. And the grass right out the front is great for our daughter to stretch her pudgy little legs out. We eat… she eats and shuffles around in circles, flailing her arms around like a seagull attacking leftover chips at the beach.

She continues this unusual walk-dance routine at the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum, one of Bathurst’s most renowned sights. 

I’ve never given fossils more than a passing thought, but am impressed with both the quantity and variety on display here. The main collection in the museum is the Somerville Collection, which is the lifetime work of Warren Somerville. Our daughter is enthralled by the huge Tyrannosaurus Rex cast – the only one of its kind in the country – and insists on walking to it (and away from it and back to it over and over again) herself.

Sleep comes easy to her that night, which we’re all thankful for as it’s an early start the next morning – we’re keen to get a kayaking adventure in before our lunch stop in Rylstone.

Rylstone is just under one hour and 20 minutes drive from Bathurst; Ganguddy (Dunns Swamp) in Wollemi National Park – where you can kayak –  is located 25 minutes’ drive from the town. We take Sofala Road and Ilford Sofala Road from Bathurst, then drive straight through Rylstone knowing we’ll be back for lunch.

The meeting place for kayak tours and kayak/SUP hire is in the day use picnic area at Ganguddy (Dunns Swamp), and the road in is red and dusty. We take our time… kicking up dirt for fun and games. 

The fun and games continue on the water. Cindy and John of Southern Cross Kayaking are as chilled out as people come. They drive up most weekends and set up in the national park, so that campers and day visitors can enjoy the Cudgegong River in a kayak or on a SUP board. We opt for a double kayak, stick our daughter in the middle, and then it’s just us and a few other kayakers paddling along admiring the unique rock formations, towering sandstone gorges and the bushland.

We manage close to an hour before our daughter wants lunch, although my husband and I are ready to eat too.

Rylestone – a picturesque town with a beautiful main street peppered with historical buildings – is famous for its dumplings, thanks to owner-chef-artist Na Lan who heads up Nine 99 Yum Cha. There’s a gift shop on site with a selection of colourful kitsch tableware on display. And there are dumplings – delicious and delicate balls of goodness made to order.

The fun and games continue on the water. Cindy and John of Southern Cross Kayaking are as chilled out as people come. They drive up most weekends and set up in the national park, so that campers and day visitors can enjoy the Cudgegong River in a kayak or on a SUP board. We opt for a double kayak, stick our daughter in the middle, and then it’s just us and a few other kayakers paddling along admiring the unique rock formations, towering sandstone gorges and the bushland.

We manage close to an hour before our daughter wants lunch, although my husband and I are ready to eat too.

Rylestone – a picturesque town with a beautiful main street peppered with historical buildings – is famous for its dumplings, thanks to owner-chef-artist Na Lan who heads up Nine 99 Yum Cha. There’s a gift shop on site with a selection of colourful kitsch tableware on display. And there are dumplings – delicious and delicate balls of goodness made to order.

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