Some of the wildest 4WD and camping areas are found in Central New South Wales. A little further out of Sydney on the edge of our 300km (long weekend range), there is generally less visitors, therefore greater opportunities for more secluded camping. The terrain encountered in Central New South Wales is varied and often spectacular. Much of the 4WDing trails and camping areas are in hilly regions, densely forested in parts interspersed with plenty of rich farmland. In the higher, subalpine regions you can expect snow at times in winter and hot days in summer, especially in lower areas.
There are three major national parks located within the Central New South Wales region. Coolah Tops National Park in the northern part is mountainous, featuring snow gums, forests, valleys and snow in winter. Goulburn River National Park lies a little south of Coolah Tops and is incorporated in the North West corner of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Abercrombie National Park is further south still and features some exciting 4WDing and camping options. Natural wonders abound throughout the region with a bewildering array of plants and animals. Two of the most exciting highlights to visit, being the Garden of Stone and the Glow Worm Tunnel. Natural attractions aside, the local Aboriginal people have occupied the region for thousands of years with examples of their presence evident throughout Central New South Wales. There are plenty of European historic interest, especially around the old gold mining country near Bathurst, Sofala and Hill End. Other towns of great interest to the visitor is Goulburn, Oberon, Mudgee and Coolah, with the coal mining center of Lithgow just on the eastern boundary bordering the Blue Mountains.
There are several towns in the northern section, which are close to Coolah Tops National Park and Goulburn River National Park. Mudgee, founded in 1838 is set along the Cudgegong River in a wide fertile valley. Wine growing and farming are the major industries. There are lots of national trust buildings around the town, the Catholic presbytery being the oldest (1852).
Bathurst is well known as the home of the annual V8s 1000km car race around the Mount Panorama circuit. However long before cars, it was gold that bought prospectors in there thousands to the region. Long before cars, Governor Macquarie crossed the Blue Mountains in 1815 and found a patch of land for Bathurst, arguably Australia’s oldest inland city. The plains west of the Great Divide became rich pastoral country. Some grand buildings of the Victorian ere stand in testament to Bathurst’s wealth gained from farming and gold.
Two towns near Bathurst really capture the spirit of gold mining history. Sofala is a tiny old gold town, founded in 1851. With a population of around 200 today, it is hard to believe that a gold rush once attracted thousands of hopeful prospectors. Some historic buildings still remain along the banks of the picturesque Turon River. For film buffs, two movies were made in town, The Cars That Ate Paris and Sirens.
Hill End had its brief glory in gold mining during the early 1870s. Evidence of the town’s rich gold heritage is everywhere with its historic buildings. For anybody remotely interested in Australia’s mining history, take an easy self-guided walk trail around Hill End. Look out for places painted by famous Australian artist, Russell Drysdale. Other walk trails take you through scenic Bushland with plenty of old mining activity still in evidence today. Due to old mine shafts in the area, it is advisable to stay on marked trails. Gold panning tours are popular with tourists around Hill End.
Goulburn with a population of 21,500 people is the major centre in the southern section of the Central New South Wales part of this book. Founded in 1833, Goulburn features many historic buildings. Goulburn courthouse, built in 1887, is one of the city’s finest buildings. In celebration of the rich pastoral industry in the region, Goulburn is the home of the world’s largest sheep made of concrete, the Big Merino.
Taralga is a tiny village of about 300 people situated in the Southern Tablelands about 45km north of Goulburn and about 1.5hours drive from Canberra. The town serving rich grazing country was quite prosperous. Taralga’s early prosperity is evident today with many well-preserved buildings dating between the 1860s and 1890s. The two pubs in the main street are real classics. Due to its altitude, snow is not an infrequent winter occurrence. Taralga is only 40km from Wombeyan Caves making it a great base.
This exceptionally pretty valley along the Kangaroo River is located in the Illawarra region, just north of busy Nowra. Visitors and residents alike enjoy the wide range of delights available in the valley. Amongst tall forest, impressive ranges and lush farmlands is the little village of Kangaroo Valley with cafes, restaurants and craft shops and galleries. Of great historic interest is Hampden Bridge, built in 1898. For lovers of nature, the spectacular Moreton National Park is located west of Kangaroo Valley. The 80 meter high Fitzroy Falls is one of several spectacular waterfalls located in Moreton National Park.
You can explore Central New South Wales yourself by using the Hema Explorer Australia app made by Hema Maps. The app provides reliable navigation while exploring remote areas and is available for download on Google or Apple app stores now.