Bathurst – Overview
About Our Town
The Bathurst area is home to the traditional aboriginal land owners, the Wiradjuri people and is the site of Australia’s oldest inland European settlement.
Located 207 km west of Sydney at 670 metres above sea level, on the western side of the Great Dividing Range in the Central Tablelands Region of New South Wales.
The area was discovered in 1813 when Blaxland, Wentworth & Lawson finished their historic crossing of the Blue Mountains. The name Bathurst comes from the surname of the British Colonial Secretary Lord Bathurst.
The site of Bathurst was selected by Governor Lachlan Macquarie on the 7th May, 1815. Bathurst is built on history, blending old and new architecture with stunning parks and gardens.
Chifley Dam is named after the late Prime Minister Ben Chifley of Bathurst, NSW. It is located on the Campbells River 17 km upstream from Bathurst. It is the main water supply for Bathurst and is about a 20 minute drive from the town’s CBD. The catchment area is 960 square kilometres. The dam’s capacity is 30,800 million litres. The earth and rockfill structure of the dam is 455 metres long 34.4 metres high.
The Macquarie River flows through Bathurst and is one of the main inland rivers in NSW and drops around 517m over its entire 626km length that has 25 creeks and rivers that flow into it.
Bathurst town has a population of over 32,000. Bathurst is located in Australia’s cool temperate climate zone which is defined as having mild to warm summers and cool to cold winters which lends itself to stone fruit production. Sheep and wool production are the main primary industries with beef cattle a secondary production that are still practiced on large land holdings near the city.
The Bathurst economy is diverse and does not rely on one industry. All forms of industries provides for a stable economy. Bathurst is very appealing knowing that you don’t have to sit in heavy traffic every day – just to get to work. An Army Camp was established at Bathurst in early 1940. Following the war, this camp was converted to a migrants “Reception and Training Center”. The first group arrived at Bathurst in 1948; at times the center had up to 10,000 residents. The migrant hostel was one of Australia’s largest and those that stayed are now very affluent people and still, to this day, contribute enormously to our community and region.
Bathurst has a reputation as being a hub of education excellence with education now being the largest single industry within our community and home to Charles Sturt University. Education is Bathurst’s largest industry with 60 educational facilities of which there are 5 boarding schools. The education range covers all levels including university, Tafe, secondary, primary both public and private. Bathurst is home to Charles Sturt University with its headquarters based at its location.
Bathurst also has the iconic Mount Panorama – being the spiritual home of Australian Motor Racing. Better known as “The Great Race” or the Bathurst 1000. The race is widely regarded as the pinnacle of Australian motorsport, held annually at the Mount Panorama Circuit. Mount Panorama is located 3 km from the CBD and effectively within the city limits and rises 215m above the Bathurst CBD. The circuit is a public road when not being used for racing and is a popular tourist attraction for visitors to the city along with the National Motor Museum which adjoins the circuit.
Bathurst is also home to the Western Region Academy of Sport. Australians love their sport and “Bathurstians” are no different. Our most recent recognised sports personality is Mark Renshaw – an Australian professional cyclist, born and educated in Bathurst. There are over 70 different sporting groups and organisations in the Bathurst region.
Referred to as Gold Country as it was the site of the first gold discovery and where the first gold rush occurred in Australia. Bathurst is a historic city with many buildings remaining from the gold rush period of the 1800’s. Miss Trails House, Chifley Cottage and Bathurst Court House are all prime examples of historic buildings.
Bathurst is unusual in that it has a collection of 7 house museums representing different periods of its history from first settlement to the 1970s. The world re-known Sommerville Collection is located at The Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum.
Surrounding Villages of Interest – Hill End, Sofala, Wattle Flat, Neville, Perthville and Rockley, just to name a few.
The Bathurst Cemetery has the resting place of two prominent people – wartime Labor Prime Minister Ben Chifley, born and raised in Bathurst and Captain John Piper, considered as the father of rowing in Australia. Organisations that support the various arts are well catered for in Bathurst. The Bathurst Regional Art Gallery and The Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre provides a venue for local and visiting performances from Australia and around the world.
1503 2BS Gold on the AM band and 99.3 B-Rock FM one of the few remaining locally owned and operated broadcast operations in Australia. Winners of 65 Commercial Radio Awards in the past 22 years informs and entertains listeners in Bathurst and surrounds.
The local stations are the focal point of community and promotional service announcements.
The Western Advocate is our local paper and has been serving the Bathurst area since 1848. It has established itself as the voice of the local district providing the information that has helped the community develop and prosper.
So what is unusual or different about Bathurst? It is the only town in rural NSW or possibly Australia that has 3 separate undercover carparks capable of housing up to say approx. 2,000 cars
Bathurst Chronological Dates of Interest
1813 – George William Evans, was the first European to sight the Bathurst Plains.
1815 – The first road to cross the Blue Mountains was 12 feet (3.7 m) wide by 101½ miles (163 km) long, built using 30 convict labourers and 8 guards. Governor Macquarie surveyed the finished road in April by driving his carriage across it from Sydney to Bathurst.
1815 – Governor Lachlan Macquarie selected the site of Bathurst on 7th May making it the oldest inland town in Australia. The name Bathurst comes from the surname of the British Colonial Secretary Lord Bathurst.
1820s – The Bathurst area was originally occupied by the Wiradjuri Aboriginal people, who resisted the settlers until the Frontier Wars ended the open conflict.
1830 – The Ribbon Gang and the Bathurst Rebellion occurred when a large group of over 80 convicts roamed the Bathurst district. They were eventually captured and charged with murder, bushranging and horse-thieving. Ten members of the Ribbon Boys were hanged for their crimes in the first and largest public hanging in Bathurst. The site of is still marked by the laneway sign Ribbon Gang Lane in the CBD.
1835 – The first licensed inn within the township was opened; the Highland Laddie.
1848 – A local paper has been providing information that has helped the community develop and prosper. Now known as The Western Advocate.
1850s – Wool has been a significant part of the Bathurst rural scene.
1851 – Bathurst’s economy was transformed with the first discovery of payable gold in Australia. It was Edward Hargraves that announced the discovery in a Bathurst Hotel.
1859 – Bathurst became an electoral district in the NSW Parliament.
1860 – The historic Royal Bathurst Show, an agricultural show, started operating.
1862 – The Cobb & Co. horse drawn coach transport business relocated to Bathurst. The Bathurst Information Centre contains a restored Cobb & Co. coach.
1870 – The Denison Bridge was built – it is now closed to road traffic but used as a pedestrian bridge.
1872 – Town gas arrived in Bathurst.
1875 – The peak of hotel activity coinciding with the gold rush period, there were 61 operating concurrently. A total of 89 hotel locations have been identified in the town of Bathurst, with 112 operating in the immediate district during the course of the history in Bathurst. Initially many pubs were simply a cottage with stables.
1876 – The Main Western railway line from Sydney reached Bathurst and the railway station was built. The Rail Bridge was recently closed and replaced in 2011.
1884 – The Bathurst Cycling Club is one of the oldest sports clubs in Australia.
1885 – Bathurst was gazetted as a city, the same day as Sydney and had a population of approximately 8,000 people.
1888 – Council provided a competing gas network.
1894 – The foundation date of the Bathurst Golf Club was. This places the Club the third oldest Club in New South Wales, behind The Australian 1882 and Royal Sydney 1893. Like many of the golf clubs in New South Wales, the Bathurst Golf Club is abundant with history and anecdotes associated with golf and the evolution of the sport.
1895 – Primary Industries Centre – the site is still one of the most important stone fruit research units in Australia.
1915 – Sewage treatment was an early infrastructure project.
1924 – The city converted from gas street lighting to electric street lighting. Unique cast iron light posts and lanterns were installed in the centre of the wide city streets and these are still an architectural feature of the city streetscape.
1925 – An ambulance service commenced
1929 – A new ambulance station was opened is still used by the NSW Ambulance Service. – Water supply started with private wells in backyards.
1931 – Work started on the Winburndale Dam project. Later, a new larger water supply dam was built on the Campbells River.
1937 – The early electronic media age arrived with the opening of commercial radio station 2BS.
1927 – Road service patrols commenced, provided by the NRMA
1987 – Natural gas arrived via a pipeline off the Moomba to Sydney pipeline.
1930 – The company Gordon Edgell & Sons was formed and became known as Edgells (now Simplot). It became and still is, a famous Australian frozen food brand. 1940 – An Army Camp was established.
1942 – Bathurst Aerodrome was opened.
1946 – The first commercial airline service departed. Today, Regional Express Airlines is the only airline providing passenger services with three daily return flights to Sydney. Several flight schools also operate from the airport.
1948 – Migrants ‘reception and training centre’; at times the centre had up to 10,000 residents.
1951 – The first intake of teacher students transformed over time into the Mitchell College of Advanced Education and grew ultimately to become the Charles Sturt University in 1989. Today, it is a major provider of regional tertiary education as well as distance education both nationally and internationally.
1956 – Originally known as the Campbell River Dam scheme was later renamed the Ben Chifley Dam after the late Prime Minister Ben Chifley of Bathurst.
2001 – The Ben Chifley Dam received a major storage upgrade, to meet the cities needs to 2050.
Bathurst Information Centre