The Central West region of NSW has so much to offer the traveller. From the large regional cities of Bathurst and Orange to the smaller towns that are steeped in history, you will find plenty of things to do around Eugowra, Forbes and Grenfell.
NSW has a lot of stories to tell when it comes to the bushranging days of the 1800’s. The Central West area of NSW were well known haunts of some of our most infamous bush rangers. Much can be learnt about this part of history by visiting towns such as Eugowra.
Eugowra is famous or perhaps I should say infamous for the 1862 Escort Rock gold robbery. A gang led by bushranger Frank Gardiner and including Ben Hall, ambushed and robbed a gold escort on it’s way from Forbes to Bathurst. By today’s estimates the haul would be worth about $5 million. Only a portion of the gold was ever recovered, despite a number of searches for it over the years.
Escort Rock is less than a 10 minute drive out of Eugowra along The Escort Way. Even today, you can clearly see what a perfect spot this was to stage an ambush.
Eugowra itself is just a small village but it is a lovely spot to visit and has a great feel to it. Around the town there are a number of wonderful murals, including one that depicts the Escort Rock gold robbery. There are a couple of nice gift shops that are worth having a browse through as well.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of the area then a visit to the Eugowra Historical Museum and Bushranger Centre is worthwhile.
After you have finished wandering around town, the Central Hotel is a great spot to grab a cool drink or a bite to eat. If you want to stay a night or two in Eugowra, the local showground offers powered sites for $20 a night or unpowered for $15.00. There is also a fantastic free camp area within an easy walk of the pub. Byrne’s Park is pet friendly, fires are allowed and it has a dump point. Public toilets are located in the park opposite the pub. Both spots can be found in the Camps Australia Wide book – numbers 547 and 548.
Just a short 30 minute drive from Eugowra, Forbes was proclaimed as a town in 1861, after gold was first discovered in the area. By the end of the 1860’s Forbes was firmly established as a rural community. Numerous historic buildings remain throughout Forbes and the easiest way to see them all is to go for a walk.
These days, Forbes is rapidly gaining a reputation for its Sculpture Down the Lachlan Trail. This trail features some stunning pieces like ‘Amazing’ and ‘Varanus’. Varanus is a giant goanna sculpture and just has to be seen to appreciate its true scale. There are also other smaller pieces in town as well
Forbes is also well known as the final resting place of bushranger Ben Hall. His grave site is located within the local cemetery. A group of locals routinely maintain his grave.
If you feel like getting some exercise whilst you are in town then head to Lake Forbes. Here you will find walking and cycling tracks as well as places to have a picnic or BBQ. There is also a designated RV parking area.
If you plan on staying in Forbes there are a couple of very tidy looking caravan parks in town. But our recommendation would be to head out of town and stay in the free camp at Jemalong Weir. Jemalong is about 20 minutes out of Forbes on the Lachlan Valley Way. Situated right beside the Lachlan River there is a large, flat grassy area and toilets as well. You can find Jemalong Weir in the Camps Australia Wide book. Listing number 954.
Grenfell is a small town that still retains some of the charm of yesteryear. It is just a 65 kilometre drive to the south of Forbes along the Lachlan Valley Way. On your way to Grenfell it’s a great idea to take a detour and visit Ben Hall’s Cave.
BEN HALL’S CAVE
Located within the Weddin Mountains, legend has it that this cave was used as a hideout by Ben Hall and other bushrangers in his gang. It is a short climb up to the cave, but once there the views are spectacular. If this cave was in fact used by Ben Hall, I can see why. They would have been able to see the dust trails of anyone approaching for miles!
The campground at Ben Hall’s Cave is awesome. There are loads of sites to choose from and all were nice and flat. There are plenty of shady trees around as well. Most sites were big enough to accommodate a caravan or a camper trailer. There are toilets there but no showers, picnic tables and BBQ’s. But best of all it only has a booking fee to stay there which is $6.00. It is managed by Parks and Wildlife so you can book online.
Grenfell is a town that I have always loved. It just oozes country charm. To learn more about the history of the area, a visit to the Grenfell Historical Museum is a good place to start. There you will find lots of information on the bushrangers who roamed the area and also on famous Australian poet Henry Lawson who was born in Grenfell. Although he only lived briefly in the town, it still celebrates the connection. The Henry Lawson Festival is held annually over the June long weekend.
Remnants from the towns gold mining days can be found at O’Brien’s Hill. There is also a nice spot for a picnic and it also has views over the town.
But the biggest attraction in Grenfell these days are definitely the recently painted silos. Completed by renowned Melbourne artist Heesco Khosnaran in 2018, they depict a rural scene typical of the area around Grenfell.
WHERE TO STAY
If staying in Grenfell there is a small, but neat and tidy caravan park there or free camping is available at the Old Railway Station.
We’re sure you will find plenty of things to do around Eugowra, Forbes and Grenfell. There really is so much to see and do in all of them. When you do visit Grenfell, try and plan your visit to coincide with one of the open days at the stunning Iandra Castle.