Letterbox art on the CWC near Dubbo | Michele Eckersley
10 Highlights of the Central West Trail
Country New South Wales is full of surprises: not only does it have that classic Australian scenery of picturesque pasturelands, eucalyptus trees, rusty tin sheds, and lone windmills; but also local distilleries, beautiful birdlife, creative artworks, historical attractions, and the iconic Western Plains Zoo.
You can experience it all on the Central West Trail Cycle
, a self guided bike trip that visits charming towns such as Gulgong, Dubbo, Dunedoo, and Mudgee. View 10 of the top things to do in the Central West of NSW and be sure to discover it for your self.
1. Goonoo Important Bird Area
This one is for the bird watchers. Between the towns of Ballimore and Mendooran, you'll come across the Goonoo State Conservation Area which is next to the Goonoo National Park. This region is designated as an 'Important Bird Area' that supports an isolated population of the vulnerable malleefowl, as well as populations of diamond firetails and painted honeyeaters. Also, keep an eye and an ear out for glossy black-cockatoos, Gilbert's whistlers, and the easternmost population of yellow-plumed honeyeaters.
2. Osawano Japanese Gardens
When walking through the Osawano Japanese Gardens, it's easy to forget that you're actually in Wellington, country NSW. You can find 129 different varieties of Japanese plants here, along with a traditional red bridge, lanterns and carp. The best time to visit is in autumn when the full vibrancy of the changing colours are in action. As an added bonus, the gardens are free too!
3. Taronga Western Plains Zoo
If you are yet to discover this fantastic country zoo, you're in for a treat. To experience the Western Plains Zoo you need to follow a road that can be driven or ...cycled! This creates a largely immersive way to see the animals, including giraffes, meerkats, hippos, and tigers. See more details on their website
. If you're following our Central West Trail self guided cycle, it is possible to add a day (or 2!) to your itinerary so you can have ample time to explore Dubbo and the zoo.
4. Black Gate Distillery
Hailed as the first hot climate whisky distillery in NSW, Black Gate Distillery
is becoming known as the place to find one of Australia's leading single malt whisky. The distillery is located in Mendooran - note that if you'd like to sample their whiskies and rum you'll need to book an appointment with owners Brian and Genise in advance. Find contact information at their website
5. Silo Art
What a creative way to brighten up boring silos - paint them with great Australian scenes! You can spot many examples of silo art throughout the Central West region, and our favourite has to be the famous racehorse Winx with jockey Hugh Bowman, who is a local of Dunedoo.
6. Gulgong Holtermann Museum
Bernhardt Holtermann may not be a name you're familiar with, but he's a 19th Century gold miner who discovered the world's largest gold specimen (a 1.5m, 93kg behemoth worth about $5 million!). He was also a prolific photographer who took some magnificent panoramas of Sydney and other parts of NSW in the 1870s. You can visit the community-run Holtermann Museum
in Gulgong and learn more about his life and achievements via the museum's digital detail experience.
7. Old Dubbo Gaol
The Old Dubbo Gaol
is a great place to step back in time. It was a working gaol for 119 years, with its last prisoners there in 1966. It has retained its yesteryear feel, with collections such as a hangmans outfit, gallows, dingy cells and watch towers. This is a state heritage listed attraction in Dubbo that's not to be missed. Another reason to add an extra day in Dubbo to your itinerary!
8. Mudgee's Vineyards
Mudgee is renowned for its classic styles of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as the birthplace of Australian Chardonnay. It’s also worth keeping an eye on the expanding selection of pinot grigio, tempranillo and Sangiovese varieties. Our picks for vineyards are the Lowe Winery
, Craigmoor Estate
, and Petersons Wines
. It's just one of the many reasons
why Mudgee is the ideal place to start and finish a cycle tour!
9. Wellington Caves
Step back even further in time than the Old Dubbo Gaol at the Wellington Caves
. Let the official blurb paint a picture:
Unearth a hidden and ancient landscape home of the first Megafauna discovery in Australia; an evolutionary and geological timeline dating from 400 million years ago, undertake a journey from underwater coral reefs to the age of megafauna while seeing our Nation’s First Peoples stories interwoven from 50,000 years ago. Leading to the present day where discovery, science, conservation and understanding will inform us well into the future.
Again, worth adding a day to your itinerary if you want to explore the Wellington cave system.
10. Embrace country hospitality
This is less of an activity, and more of the brilliant subtle atmosphere found along the Central West Trail. From enjoying a traditional afternoon tea of hot scones with jam and cream in Dunedoo, to a beer or two at the Hair of the Dog hotel in Ballimore, simply interacting with the colourful locals is a great reason to get out and explore regional NSW.
Do you want to explore the Central West Trail? Let us know what you're most excited for in the comment section below.