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Australian Bicycle Camping Fact Sheets

New South Wales : The Central West

By Grace Newhaven ( 2000 / Aug)

PO Box 3331 RUNDLE MALL SA 5000

eMail :


This fact sheet is intended as an introductory guide to cycle camping in the Central West region of NSW. General tourist and promotional information is readily available from mainstream sources elsewhere. This fact sheet does not duplicate that information, and assumes the reader has, or will have, access to those sources.


There is no bicycle-specific map of the Central West.

NRMA's regional map # 5, "Central West, New England & North West" (aprox 1 : 500 000 ), includes the Blue Mountains and routes to/from Sydney and is useful for the minor roads, showing some roads that are not listed on larger scale road maps. Free to members of car clubs, otherwise $5.00 from NRMA offices in larger towns.

Wind direction maps are available at

The Australian Bicentennial National Trail provides an interesting route through this area

Australian Cyclist Magazine featured a useful article on a winter tour of the region. (1994/ June, p 42)

Freewheeling Magazine published several articles on bicycle touring the region. (Bathurst to Cowra 09:32, Bathurst district 16:36, Central West in Winter 45:61, Central Highlands 49:34) Copies of these magazines are available in bicycle organisation libraries.

The Cobb & Co Heritage Trail ( Bathurst to Bourke ) may eventually have some use for bikers.

Bicycle NSW is the established bicycle advocacy group for NSW. There does not appear to be any independent touring information at its site.

The Roads & Traffic Authority of NSW [Department of Transport] has some token information about bikes, but nothing about long distance bike travel.

History :

Aborigines inhabited the region for millennia before European settlement. In the colonial period, pressure for agricultural land beyond the flood prone the Hawkesbury Valley prompted the crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813 and further exploration of the Central West. The construction of the Mt Victoria pass in 1832 opened the area for increased settlement. The wilderness of the region was useful to escaped convicts and bushrangers, including Ben Hall. The discovery of gold in 1851 led to a rush of prosperity, and established Bathurst as a regional centre, and the headquarters of Cobb & Co., with roads gradually spreading through the area. Many of these roads have now been bypassed by modern highways, but remain intact and are particularly useful to cyclists.



A generally flat plain with some gentle undulations and a few short, steep hills. There are a number of semi-permanent rivers, watering mixed sheep & cattle country with tracts of pleasant native forest. The seasons are distinct, with a cold highland winter, especially around Bathurst & Orange.

January is the warmest month (average temperature C) and July the coldest (C). For weather see : Apart from January & February , rain is evenly spread, with about 7 to ten rain days per month.

Getting there

by bike       

The Central west can be approached from the south, from the Hunter Valley or from Sydney via the Blue Mountains. Fact sheets for some these routes have been produced in the same series as this one.

by bus

Greyhound & McCafferties intercity buses serve the main highway towns. Both have " flat fee" charges for bikes that effectively discriminate against short journeys with a bike. Note however that significant discounts exist for tickets booked in advance. The train (below) may be much cheaper and more frequent, at least to/from Sydney

by rail         

The Sydney suburban commuter network extends as far as Lithgow and Goulburn, and is relatively cheap. Bicycles travel free in off-peak times, you simply walk on / walk off with your bike, though there are no purpose designed facilities for bikes, so you may need to stand supporting your fully loaded bike. The "Country" [statewide] train system, running on the same tracks, is less bike friendly. The two services are not well integrated. Smaller stations may not have ramps (consult the timetables for " disabled access" stations). Do not expect train staff in either service to be informative or helpful


There is an extensive network of well maintained sealed roads, sometimes narrow (one lane).Car traffic on the minor roads is generally very light and considerate, but through roads between major towns will be busier, especially with trucks, and much less pleasant for cyclists. Some newer sections of through roads have useful sealed shoulders. There are also some rough, sandy but manageable tracks providing useful & picturesque alternatives to sealed roads.

Particularly attractive roads, passing through native forests, are those between Eugowra and Molong, and the unsealed minor road from Wellington to Gulgong.

In all cases, it is worthwhile to wear brightly coloured clothing to enable motorists and truck drivers to see you as early as possible - in particular, avoid dark helmets.


Tap water in the region is safe to drink, but varies in taste from one town to the next, and may be unpalatable in some places. In some areas, the local people may prefer rain water for drinking (though some locals seem not to care - one suspects they may not drink as much as a cyclist ). In general , it is a good idea to try to obtain rainwater wherever it is available, ie wherever tanks are evident on public buildings or private houses. Most farmers are happy to provide drinking water.

Bottled water is readily available in large supermarkets. Ground water will not be safe anywhere.


Most small settlements still have general stores with a limited stock of non-perishables (see below). However, some of these small shops are clearly struggling in the face of depopulation. Most small towns have pubs, serving hot meals, essentially meat based at around A$6.00. Major centres have well stocked supermarkets with competitive prices and long trading hours (useful to the tired cyclist arriving late ). Supermarkets often have liquor stores attached. Beer drinkers should try "Toohey's Old" a traditional dark beer, and Resches "Real". Wholefood stores are useful if you can find them, as the cyclist can buy smaller quantities of basic foods ( eg honey, milk powder, dried fruits etc ) than are available in supermarkets. For more bicycle camping food ideas, see " Bicycle Kitchen".


There are plenty of opportunities for free camping on quiet side roads and unsealed stock routes leading away from the sealed roads. Around most of the small towns, it would be possible to stock up on water and food, then proceed to an overnight "free" camp site nearby if desired. In most places, there will be enough wood for a small fire, where you can prepare "damper". Use wood sparingly and observe all fire precautions and bans.

Alternatively, caravan parks provide tent sites, and hot showers, from about $5.00/person. Most camp site managers seemed bike friendly, offering some discount on car-based tariffs. Caravan sites were between one and four star, for generally the same price. Indoor accomodation is available at pubs, generally of a vary basic standard, and often smelling unpleasantly of cigarette smoke. Pubs in small towns may also be prepared to accept campers on their lawns, though the noise factor may be inconvenient.



pubs, fast foods, grocery, grim camping area.

Ariah Park

pub, friendly grocery, public shower block, thrift shop


pubs, tiny grocery, water tanks


Pub, telephone, free campsite with toilets in park.


water tank, friendly general store with liquor, free camp site at tennis court.


general stores, wash clothes at park. www cafe $2.00/ hr


nil, apart from phone box. Beware of this if you're planning to buy food here!


friendly supermarket, with www cafe $2.00/ hr. Ask for tank water opposite.


general store, picnic shelter, pub


large centre, www at library, expensive camping ($12.00/ single)


large centre, good camp site $5.00, museum ( with British WW2 folding bike).


medium town, water at Catholic church's tank. Kids on bikes!


small general store, friendly proprietor


 pub, small grocery/fast food store, picnic park, toilets

 Stuart Town

 small general store


large centre, www at library. Bi LO supermarket with long hours. Van park $10.00 ( with thorns in the grass, according to the owner.)


Tank water in the park. Small general store.


Note that the Australian Government is lately providing subsidised Internet services at a variety of sites in rural Australia through the Networking The Nation Program.

This fact sheet was produced by grassroots cyclists. No responsibility can be accepted for errors or omissions.

It is intended for free or low cost distribution on paper or on the www, and you are free to copy it on that basis. Suggestions for improvement are most welcome!

Other Bicycle Camping Fact Sheets in this series include

Central Australia | SA Kangaroo Island | SA Flinders Ranges | North Queensland

| WA Kimberley | Stuart Highway | NSW Central West | NSW Sydney to Canberra |

NSW Hunter Valley

2000 / Sep 7