This weekend we met a couple living in Bathurst, who invited us to their home for dinner. We again enjoyed their company when they suggested a Sunday pub lunch at O’Connell Hotel. Thanks again Lorraine and Allan for a great weekend!
The Hotel is approximately 20.kms SE of Bathurst, about half-way to Oberon, in the hamlet of O’Connell. On the way we drove through very dry sheep farming properties. Might have missed the hamlet, but not O’Connell Hotel – it’s painted yellow.
The menu was wide-ranging and the sizes of the meals were huge! We recommend the visit and look around the inside of the building. We could have eaten near the open log fire, but chose to each at the tables outside under the elm tree.
Regular auctions occur at the Bathurst Showgrounds and there’s no show without Punch, despite reminding him we live in a motor home now. But there’s always room for tools ($160) and an exercise stepper for $2 which doubles as an extra step into the motor home.
Another foggy, chilly morning but the pavilions are overflowing to outside marquees with some amazing local produce. These markets are held on a fairly regular basis. Check out Facebook page: Bathurst Farmer’s Markets.
These markets are extremely popular and there is more than enough parking available for everyone. But as usual, people park without thinking. Now Mike’s had a lot of experience moving large motor homes in tight spaces, but if we had wanted to leave, even he would have had trouble negotiating the cars parked in rows, front and back of our motor home.
We decided to camp at Bathurst Showgrounds where we could use electricity to assist with heating the motorhome on the very cold nights. $25 per night for a powered site and access to really hot showers! Dump point available on the other side of the Showgrounds.
The showground is one of the earliest sites in New South Wales to have been used continually as a showground (since 1878) however there were some interruptions.
In 1916 the military occupied the Showgrounds. The 1919 show was cancelled when the Government forbid large gatherings of people in an attempt to curb an influenza epidemic. From 1942 to 1946 the Showgrounds were used as a training camp by the Army.
There are a large number of buildings, many built from the late 1800’s. Every day, horses are exercising on the Showground track separated from the main camping area by the Grandstand and ‘Tote’ building.
Clearly many people are involved in the upkeep of the Showgrounds, but the hardest worker? He comes with his owner to assist with the cleaning around the grounds, but he’s only a little fella and tires easily.
For those living overseas and not aware of the significance of Mount Panorama at Bathurst: The Bathurst 1000 is a 1,000-km championship touring car race held annually on the Mount Panorama Circuit. The circuit for most of the time is comprised of public roads and is a distance of 6.213.kms. Drivers in the Bathurst 1000 will do 61.laps of the circuit.
Since its inception in 1960, “King of the Mountain” Peter Brock has won the event a record nine times and with his co-driver Jim Richards, holds the record for the largest winning margin of 6 laps! Shortly before the 2006 race, whilst competing in a car rally, Brock crashed into a tree and died instantly, aged 61 years.
The sight of Mount Panorama, Bathurst in the distance was enough to get Suzi’s engine hot and revving! How could we deny her the chance to conquer The Mountain?
Throughout the areas around Bathurst we have observed the dryness of the land. Massive areas of what should be grazing for livestock are just dust and farmers are bringing in bales of hay to feed their cattle and sheep. It is confronting to see. It has been six months since rain in the area and it’s verging on winter!
On 19 and 20 May 2018 in Bathurst was the Lifeline Central West Book Fair (gold coin donation at the door) supported by the Lions Club, with funds raised going towards the continued provision of 24/7 telephone crisis support. We visited and made our small contribution – it all adds up.
The approach to Bathurst from Sofala involves some descending winding roads, cut into the rocky hills and more great views.
Sofala has many buildings preserved from the days of the gold rush in the area. Most are within the two main streets that comprise the primary area of the town. There is a lot to see walking around the town where history abounds and the residents show a quirky sense of humour.
Tourists are catered for with grassed picnic areas and public toilets. There were three cafés open when we visited. We opted for Devonshire tea in the outdoor “Vines Garden” at the end of Denison Street. The scones and hot chocolate were delicious and most welcome on a chilly day, but the tea was cactus!
Located approximately 45 kms north of Bathurst, and on the banks of the Turon River, is the quaint village of Sofala which can lay claim to being the oldest surviving gold rush town in Australia.
Gold was discovered in the area in 1851 and a tent/shack city sprung up along the Turon River. The town’s development began with the first Royal Hotel and a general store built in 1851. Reportedly the population peaked at 10,000 in September, and dropped to 5,000 by Christmas, further by 1855 when new gold discoveries were made at nearby Wattle Flat. Today it is a charming place to visit. At its entrance is the restored Sofala Footbridge, erected within the Joyce Pearce Memorial Park, next to the Turon River.
There is a lengthy history on the footbridge illustrated at the Park. The bridge had its origins in England prior to 1860. In 1882 it became the first bridge over the River Turon and connected the police compound on the north side with the court house, gaol and village on the southern side. Use of the footbridge declined over the years with the new police station being on the southern side and the vehicle Crossly Bridge being constructed. The footbridge eventually fell into disrepair, and was later restored.
During a record flooding of the Turon River in 1986 the bridge was swept away and it wasn’t until 2010 it was restored for the second time and placed in its present position. Many people were involved in this restoration. One was Joyce Pearce who raised funds to help with the work required. She passed away in 1998 and the Memorial Park acknowledges her efforts in the early stages of the project for restoration of the footbridge.