10 Must-Visit Destinations in and Near Central New South Wales

Central New South Wales in Australia is a region rich in history, natural beauty, and cultural diversity. Nestled between the Blue Mountains and the Great Dividing Range, this area offers a captivating blend of charming towns, stunning landscapes and unique experiences.

From charming towns and historic villages to breathtaking natural wonders and rugged national parks, Central NSW offers a number of exciting destinations for adventurers and curious minds to visit.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at ten must-visit destinations that showcase the best of this enchanting region and its neighbouring areas. Whether you’re an avid nature lover, a history buff, a foodie, or simply someone in search of serenity, these destinations promise an unforgettable experience that captures the essence of central New South Wales.

1. Orange


Orange is a captivating town that offers visitors a delightful blend of natural beauty, historical significance and culinary excellence. Situated roughly 260 kilometres west of Sydney, the town is known for its cool-climate wineries that dot the landscape, inviting visitors to indulge in wine tastings and tours.

Perhaps the best way to get to know it is to tackle the Orange Heritage Trail, which showcases the town’s colonial architecture and historical sites. Be sure also to enjoy Lake Canobolas’s serenity, a peaceful escape for nature enthusiasts.

Orange is also renowned as a foodie hotspot, with the Orange Farmers Market presenting an excellent selection of local produce and several award-winning restaurants offering dishes that highlight the region’s flavours. Accommodation options are diverse, ranging from charming bed and breakfasts to boutique hotels, all within the character and ambience of Orange’s historical charm.

Overall, the town is a must-visit destination in Central New South Wales, providing travellers with a seamless integration of culture, nature, and gastronomy in a captivating and unforgettable setting.

2. Mudgee

Mudgee 1

Mudgee is another lovely destination to visit for its intriguing history, picturesque landscapes and burgeoning wine scene.

Lying approximately 270 km to the northwest of Sydney, Mudgee boasts over 40 wineries set against a spectacular backdrop of rolling hills and vineyards. Wine lovers can visit several cellar doors and go on any one of the numerous wine tours that showcase the region’s acclaimed varietals, including Shiraz and Chardonnay.

Beyond its viticultural offerings, Mudgee’s historical heritage is on display in its well-preserved

buildings and streetscapes, reflecting its gold rush past. The Mudgee Historical Society offers insights into the town’s fascinating history through guided tours and exhibitions.

Mudgee’s culinary scene is a highlight, with a good selection of vibrant cafes, restaurants, and eateries that offer farm-to-table experiences, where visitors can relish dishes crafted with fresh, regional ingredients. You’ll also find several accommodation options in Mudgee including quaint boutique guesthouses and comely countryside retreats.

3. Bathurst


About 200 km west of Sydney, Bathurst is Australia’s oldest inland settlement, offering a captivating glimpse into the past.

Exploring Bathurst’s historic sites is a must, with the Bathurst Heritage Trail guiding visitors through colonial architecture, museums, and landmarks that tell the story of its foundation. The iconic Mount Panorama Circuit, known for the Bathurst 1000, adds a touch of excitement for those who enjoy motorsport.

Bathurst is also known for its excellent cultural experiences, including several galleries, theatres and festivals celebrating local talent. The Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum is also a unique highlight, housing an extraordinary collection of fossils and gemstones.

Bathurst’s natural beauty shines with its surrounding landscapes, including Abercrombie Caves and the tranquil Macquarie River. For those seeking adventure, outdoor activities such as bushwalking and cycling can be undertaken in several nearby national parks.

Bathurst offers diverse dining options, from charming cafes to fine dining restaurants, some of which are chef-hatted venues that champion local produce. In terms of accommodation, try to secure a stay in one of the town’s historic guesthouses, which promise a comfortable stay within the embrace of Bathurst’s historical charm and contemporary allure.

4. Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains

No exploration of Central NSW is complete without a visit to the Blue Mountains. Just a short drive from Sydney, this World Heritage-listed wonderland, on the outskirts of the region promises a captivating journey into a wonderland of some of nature’s best work.

Boasting breathtaking vistas, ancient rock formations and lush wilderness, the iconic Three Sisters rock formation is a must-see, offering panoramic views of the vast eucalyptus-clad valleys and the iconic blue haze that gives the region its name. If you enjoy hiking, you can explore a myriad of trails, each offering unique perspectives of the landscape – from waterfalls like Wentworth Falls to the enchanting Jamison Valley. The Scenic World attraction provides various ways to experience the scenery, including the steepest passenger railway in the world and skyway rides. (Not for the faint of heart!)

Throughout the Blue Mountains, there are a number of charming mountain villages you can explore, like Katoomba, with its fabulous boutique shops, art galleries and quaint cafes rich in character.

The Blue Mountains is also an excellent place to celebrate indigenous heritage, which you can do through guided tours and by visiting various cultural centres.

5. Dubbo


Dubbo is the place to go for wildlife encounters, heritage attractions and to immerse yourself in a vibrant local community. The main highlight of the area is the Taronga Western Plains Zoo, a sprawling open-range zoo where you can get up close with a diverse array of animals from around the world. From lions to giraffes, the zoo offers a unique opportunity to see these creatures in spacious enclosures that mimic their natural habitats.

You can also delve into the city’s history at Old Dubbo Gaol, a well-preserved 19th-century penal complex turned museum. Whilst there, exploring its cells, gallows and displays, will give you an insight into Australia’s colonial past. The Dubbo Observatory is also a treat for stargazers, offering clear views of the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky.

For a more relaxing experience, the city’s parks and gardens, like the Japanese Gardens and the Dubbo Arboretum, provide tranquil spaces for leisurely walks and picnics. At the same time, Dubbo’s vibrant dining scene covers many genres, while its pubs and restaurants offer a taste of regional flavours. Best of all though, the city’s friendly atmosphere and country charm make it a welcoming destination for visitors of all interests and backgrounds.

6. Cowra


Cowra is a picturesque town that prides itself on offering an intoxicating blend of history, tranquillity and natural beauty.

Best known for its poignant history related to World War II, the Cowra Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre stands as a symbol of reconciliation and friendship between Australia and Japan. The meticulously designed garden is a serene oasis, inviting visitors to reflect and unwind.

The Cowra Prisoner of War Camp Site is also a significant historical site, commemorating the events of the Cowra Breakout during WWII. The site’s War, Rail, and Rural Museum offers insights into the town’s heritage, with exhibits on railways, agriculture and wartime stories.

Nature lovers can explore the beautiful Lachlan River and Wyangala Dam, where activities like fishing, boating and picnicking are popular. Additionally, Cowra’s vineyards and wineries contribute to the region’s emerging wine scene, providing opportunities for tastings and enjoying local produce.

7. Parkes


Boasting a rural charm, scientific significance and hosting several cultural events, Parkes offers a distinctive and memorable experience in Central New South Wales.

Most renowned for the iconic Parkes Observatory, also known as ‘The Dish’, it played a crucial role in the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. The CSIRO’s Parkes Radio Telescope continues to capture imaginations and offers visitors insights into space exploration.

The Henry Parkes Centre is a cultural hub, housing a museum, art gallery and antique machinery display, showcasing the region’s history and heritage. Notably, Parkes Elvis Festival, an annual event celebrating the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, attracts fans from around the world, adding a touch of musical vibrancy to the town.

The town’s historic architecture and vibrant streetscapes reflect its rich past, while the nearby Goobang National Park provides opportunities for bushwalking and wildlife spotting.

Parkes offers a range of accommodation options, from charming bed and breakfasts to modern hotels, ensuring a comfortable stay that caters to all price points.

8. Forbes


Of all the towns you can visit in Central New South Wales, Forbes arguably offers the most charming and well-rounded experience.

Forbes offers heritage, outdoor activities and scenic beauty for the visitor to enjoy. The town’s historical significance is evident in its well-preserved architecture and landmarks. While the Forbes Heritage Trail guides visitors through historic buildings, such as the Courthouse and the historic railway station.

Forbes is also blessed with some excellent natural attractions that are huge drawcards for lovers of the great outdoors. The Lachlan River and Lake Forbes provide opportunities for fishing, boating and picnicking. Meanwhile, birdwatchers can explore the Gum Swamp Bird Hide, observing a variety of species in their natural habitat.

The town’s connection to bushranger Ben Hall adds an air of intrigue. Explore Ben Hall’s Cave and nearby sites to learn about this notorious figure in Australian history.

You should also make a point of checking out the Forbes Camel Races, which attract crowds to this unique event – featuring camel races and quirky entertainment – every year. It is a terrific place to meet locals, as is the Forbes Farmer’s Markets, which offer a taste of local produce and crafts, showcasing the region’s agricultural roots.

9. Hill End

Hill End 1

For those wanting a glimpse of the region’s gold rush heritage, be sure to check out the well-preserved town of Hill End.

Once a bustling mining town during the 19th century, Hill End is now a charming historic village with streets lined with rustic buildings and old miners’ cottages that evoke a sense of nostalgia.

The Hill End Historic Site allows visitors to explore the remnants of the gold mining operations, including the impressive Craigmoor House and the fascinating History Hill Museum. The surrounding landscapes are a mix of rugged beauty and historical significance, with walking trails that take you through remnants of mines and lush bushland.

Artists and photographers are drawn to Hill End’s unique atmosphere, with its historic buildings and stunning landscapes providing ample inspiration. The village’s artistic legacy is celebrated at the Hill End Artists in Residence Program.

Accommodation options include cosy cottages and charming B&Bs – many of which are authentic buildings – providing an opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the town’s unique ambience.

10. Lithgow


Known for its history of coal mining and ironworks, Lithgow offers visitors an insight into the town’s industrial heritage.

Evident in its fabulous architecture and fascinating museums, the Lithgow Blast Furnace and Eskbank House are notable sites worth visiting to gain a fuller appreciation of it. Likewise, The Small Arms Factory Museum highlights Lithgow’s contribution to firearm production during wartime.

Lithgow’s scenic landscapes are perfect for bushwalking, rock climbing and fishing, while Lake Lyell Recreation Park is a great spot for kayaking and swimming. Nature lovers will also appreciate Lithgow’s proximity to the stunning Blue Mountains and Wollemi National Parks.

Throughout the year, the town hosts various events and festivals, showcasing its local culture and community spirit. The Glow Worm Tunnel, a former railway tunnel, offering a unique hiking experience and a chance to see glow worms illuminating its walls at night, is also popular year-round attraction.


Conclusion 9

Central New South Wales is a region brimming with diversity and charm.

From the fertile vineyards of Orange and Mudgee to the historic streets of Bathurst and the wilderness of the Blue Mountains, each destination offers a unique experience that showcases the essence of this captivating region.

Whether you’re a foodie or a wine lover, a history buff or a nature lover, Central NSW has something to captivate your senses and create lasting memories.

This guide has attempted to inspire you to take a journey through the heart of this fantastic region. Now that you have read it to this stage, we hope you have managed to convince you to do so.