We are house-sitting in Cowra for a week and this has given us the perfect excuse to do some exploring around the wider area. It has been a good number of years since our last visit to Condobolin so we thought we would take ourselves for a drive.
Condobolin (affectionately known as Condo) is close enough to a six hour drive west of Sydney. But if you are already visiting the Central West, a day trip from most places is doable. All the roads are bituman and reasonably well maintained. We chose to travel to Condobolin via Parkes which took us about two and a half hours. On our return trip we went via Forbes, which is slightly shorter distance wise.
Condobolin is situated on the traditional lands of the Wiradjuri people. Early European explorers recorded visiting the area in the early 1800’s. The Lachlan River flows through the town and is used for irrigation purposes. Sheep, cattle and cropping are the main agricultural pursuits in the area.
From 1898 to 1927 Condobolin was the main rail head for the Central West. In days gone by, both gold and copper were discovered in the area. Several historical buildings still remain in the town, including the Post Office and Railway Station barracks, which houses a museum. Visits to this museum are by appointment only.
GUM BEND LAKE
As we drove into Condobolin, I spotted a sign for Tourist Information, Arts and Craft and Book Exchange, all housed in an old pub. A friendly lady helped me with some local information about Gum Bend Lake. After grabbing a few lunch supplies from the local IGA (we spent $30 there) we drove the short distance out of town to find an awesome man-made lake.
Gum Bend Lake was a bi-centennial project driven by a local lady, Dora L’Estrange and what an awesome spot it is. An almost circular lake it is popular for water skiing and fishing. Around the waters edge there are several picnic shelters, barbecues and even some green grass. The area was busy, but not over-crowded. There are also toilets and hot showers available.
But best of all, you can camp here for FREE! We couldn’t believe this awesome spot was available for free camping. The area set aside for camping was level and had a few shady trees around. Dogs are permitted in the camping area but not on the lake foreshore.
It was so good it made me want to drive straight back and pick up the van!
OTHER THINGS TO DO
If you want to learn more about the Indigenous history of the area, I suggest you check out the Wiradjuri Cultural Centre. The Lachlander Museum is another place of interest. The Lachlander was one of the last newspapers in Australia to become computerised. Tours are available by appointment only and only available on weekdays.
One thing we had wanted to see was the ‘Utes in the Paddock’ display and we were most disappointed to discover that this display has been dismantled, pending relocation to a new site. At present these awesome pieces of art are being ‘refurbed’ in a local holding yard. Let’s hope this can be done sooner rather than later.
Also worth stopping at is the Memorial Park which is located right on the banks of the Lachlan River. There is a children’s playground, picnic tables and plenty of shady trees as well as lots of green grass.
Keep in mind that Condobolin was hit hard with floods in 2016 and all of this park area was under water. The playground has been rebuilt and new grass has grown in most places.
We love visiting small, out of the way towns like Condobolin and after seeing what’s on offer, we can’t wait to come back.