Sydney to Bathurst is an ideal drive for a day trip or a weekend break. The scenic drive from Sydney takes you through the rolling landscapes of the Blue Mountains along the Great Western Highway. A number of a small town along the way provides nice stopovers for a coffee break or lunch.
Winters is a great time of the year to explore inland NSW. I decided to drive from Sydney to Lithgow and Bathurst in late May. The days are sunny and the nights are very cold at the beginning of winters. Driving through the Blue Mountains you will capture all the shades of Autumn.
How far is Bathurst from Sydney?
The driving distance from Sydney to Bathurst is 200km and the driving time is over 2 hours. The speed limit through the Blue Mountains varies between 60 km/h to 80 km/hour and road works can further delay your trip. If you are planning to drive, it is recommended to start early to beat the school zones and commercial traffic on M5 and M4. Driving through the Blue Mountains is a great way to enjoy scenic landscapes. If you are planning to rent a car check the best rates online .
The train service operates from Sydney Central to Bathurst. The XPT express non-stop train takes around 3.5 hours of travel time. The tickets cost is $25. The regular train connecting from Sydney to Blacktown and Blacktown and Lithgow takes over 4 hours and the cost is a lot lesser $10.
The bus ride is also a great alternative. The ticket costs around $70 and can be booked online and pickup locations are at the central location, domestic and international airports.
If you are planning a day trip to Bathurst, you must start early to make the best of the day. The driving distance from Sydney to Bathurst is over 3 hours. With occasional roadworks on the way and average speed cameras, it can take more than 3 hours to drive.
I started at 7 am in the morning from Hurstivlle Sydney and followed M5 to M7 to M4 leading to the town of Springfield. One clear sunny day the drive is absolutely enjoyable. My first stop along the way was a stopover at the Hydro Majestic Pavilion for a coffee and light snacks. The Pavilion is easily accessible from the Great Western Highway.
The town of Medlow Bath is perched on the top of the cliff overlooking the Megalong Valley. Hydro Majestic Hotel is 120 years old establishment offering luxury accommodation in Medlow Bath and Blue Mountains Region.
Salon Du The is another cafe located on-premises offering a range of drinks, mocktails and snacks. The Pavilion is located right next to the Boiler room commanding great views of the Valley. Shop for interesting gifts, memorabilia, gourmet food items and Hydro Majestic branded clothing at the Pavilion. I decided to enjoy hot pies with coffee before heading over to the Blackheath.
The theme of the Salon borrows rich colours and motifs from Chinese culture, a remnant of early last century obsessions with the orient. The choice of decorations and design patterns shows the early motivation for designing this venue. The themes are still prominent in recent renovations. A mix of cocktails including Foy's drink and Hydro Majestic 1904 revives the tradition and memories of the early years of this amazing establishment.
The town of Blackheath is the gateway to Megalaong Valley. A 25 km drive from Blackheath to Megalong Valley is an interesting detour if you have more time to yourself. A cafe at the bottom of the valley offers amazing breakfast and scones with fresh cream.
Blackheath is an interesting place to stay. The village preserves the old traditional lifestyle and amazing architecture of the historical building. If you are into outdoor excursions and exploring the local landscape. Govetts Leap commands amazing views of the Blue Mountains National Park. Grand Canyon Loop goes through some of the World Heritage Declared sites and waterfalls.
Note: Keep an eye on National Park announcements. If you plan to camp in the area a permit is required for a campsite. Safety beacons can be rented from the tourism office in the Blue Mountains.
A drive from Blackheath to Lithgow is an enjoyable one. The landscape changes considerably as you descend into the valley. The average speed cameras keep track of speed, therefore, drive carefully and stay within the speed limits.
The road is quite wide and the speed limits go up to 110 km/hours before Bathurst. The landscapes change considerably as Bathurst is very flat and spread out.
The information centre in Lithgow is located on the Great Western Highway. You can obtain local maps, a city guide and touring tips from the experienced staff at the centre. I obtained guide maps and brochures for Bathurst and Orange as I wanted to shortlist things to do in Bathurst. I was told to explore Mount Panorama as the starting point of my trip. The Motor racing circuit at Mount Panorama is home to 1000 km of endurance racing in October. The team come to compete and make a motor racing history.
I drove all the up to the top of Mount Panorama and enjoyed the amazing views of Bathurst and surrounding areas from the top of the mountain.
Views of Bathurst from Mount Panorama in Bathurst
Driving around the track gives you a feel for the race. Mount Panorama is definitely a must-visit location in Bathurst to enjoy some amazing views.
Bathurst town is quite spread out with very wide roads and modern shopping Malls. It was lunchtime and I decided to have a light meal at Piccolo's on William an impressive corner cafe with an impressive presentation and menu.
Piccolo on William in Bathurst Town
Bathurst has plenty of interesting things to do for all age groups. Having seen the high time in the Gold Rush era, Bathurst has plenty of historic buildings and beautiful parks.
Here are some must-do activities when you plan to stay at Bathurst.
1. Okhuma Japanese Garden located at the edges of Macquarie River
2. Machattie Park- offering an amazing mix of Victorian designs including Duck Pond, Rotunda and Drinking Fountain.
3. Australian Mineral and Fossil Museum - is getting ready for Bathurst Winter Festival on 2nd of July 2021
4. Flat Rock Picnic Area - a great place to visit with family if you are planning to stay in Bathurst for a couple of days
I decided to stay at Encore Apartments located 3km from Mount Panorama. The property offers the comfort of home with very comfortable rooms and a kitchenette. This property is very popular with single travellers and great rating on booking.com. The benefits of staying at Encore Apartments is the spacious one or two-bedroom rooms with free wi-fi and parking.
The next day, I decided to use the country road (O'Connell Road) joining O'Connell and Tarana to Lithgow. I recommend taking this trip early in the morning as the road gets narrow at traverses through rolling hills and amazing landscapes. Plan a mid-day lunch at the old town of Tarana popular for weekend markets.
The trip is quite enjoyable if you like country scape and remote locations. There are plenty of water bodies, lakes and farmsteads along the way. The road is quite isolated as compared to the main freeway connecting Lightgow with Bathurst.
Driving from Bathurst to Tarana along the country drive
Lake Lyall is a major water reservoir and dam located between Tarana and Lithgow. In summers the lake is very popular for a range of watersports.
On the way back I explored the city of Lithgow and decided to have dinner in Katoomba before heading back to Sydney.
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