200 Years of Bathurst

Taking a trip down memory lane….

             1815 – 2015

source: David Roma
                                                                      Source: David Roma

By Stacey Holten and Monika Malcolm

When you think of Bathurst most people automatically associate it with cold weather and car racing. It seems that Bathurst is most famous for its Bathurst 1000 race, with it coming up as the first suggestion when Bathurst is typed into Google Search. But there is more to the city than Mount Panorama and the famous annual races. Bathurst is the oldest inland settlement in Australia with many people not knowing the rich history that resides within the city.

For many of you history buffs that have never visited Bathurst, you’re missing out. This year is the perfect year to tick Bathurst off your bucket list. The city is celebrating 200 years of history since settlement in 1815.

Deputy- Surveyor George William Evans discovered Bathurst, of course he wasn’t the first one there, with it being home to the Wiradjuri people, but that didn’t stop the Europeans from claiming settlement 200 years ago.

The Wiradjuri people. Source: yourepeat
The Wiradjuri people. Source: yourepeat

While the year is almost over and the main Bathurst 200 events, celebrating the city’s history have finished, there are still heaps of places to visit when in Bathurst.

The Bathurst District Historical Society offers visitors a unique experience, where they can look and read about a number of artifacts that can only be found in Bathurst.

Bathurst District Historical Society on Russell Street
Bathurst District Historical Society on Russell Street. Source: Flickr

As part of Bathurst’s heritage week in May this year, the local council unveiled a newly reconstructed flagstaff that sits in the exact position where Governor Macquarie proclaimed Bathurst as a town in May 1815.

Video of Bathurst Flagstaff by the Macquarie River. Source: Stacey Holten

Mayor of Bathurst, Gary Rush said he is proud to be Mayor during the bicentennial year.

“It feels pretty special to think that you have a place in our community and history. Because in our life time it’s only going to happen on this occasion.”

Mayor of Bathurst, Gary Rush. Source: Western Advocate
Mayor of Bathurst, Gary Rush. Source: Western Advocate

When you visit Bathurst you realise the number of old heritage buildings and infrastructure that have been around for well over one hundred years, like the Court House on Russell Street that has been there since settlement. You can also visit Australia’s former Prime Minister, Benjamin Chifley’s home on Busby Street.

Court House on Russell Street. Source: rkdhistory
Court House on Russell Street. Source: rkdhistory
Court House. Source:
Court House Today. Source:Bathurst Country Lodge
Banjamin Chifley's House at 10 Busby St, Bathurst. Source: thesenior
Banjamin Chifley’s House at 10 Busby St, Bathurst.    Source: thesenior.com.au

Bathurst was established as a convict agricultural settlement with the intent that a township would be established. Governor Macquarie was so pleased when the Blue Mountains were crossed and the land beyond opened up to assist in producing food for the colony.

Governor Lachlan Maquarie. Source:
Governor Lachlan Maquarie. Source: Heritage Bathurst

In 1833 Bathurst was laid out with several parks, market squares and businessmen and townsfolk began building the future of Bathurst.

One of the oldest parks in Bathurst is Machattie Park, which is located next to the Court House on George Street and Russell Street.

Machattie Park Then. Source
Machattie Park in 1901. Source: National Trust
Machattie Park Now. Source: BathurstNSW
Machattie Park Today. Source: BathurstNSW

After the discovery of gold, Bathurst prospered and when the railway arrived it opened up markets for the districts agricultural products.

1913 to 1966.
Bathurst Railway between 1913 and 1966. Source: Geocities

President of the Bathurst District Historical Society, Alan McRae said there are many heritage-listed sites for people to visit.

“Bathurst today still has many historic buildings, homes and sites associated with its rich history, many with interpretive signage to explain the history to visitors”, said Mr McRae.

President of the Bathurst District Historical Society, Alan McRae
President of the Bathurst District Historical Society, Alan McRae. Source: ABC

For those who are interested in taking home a souvenir, Bathurst Goldfields offer tours that allow visitors to pan for gold and explore and learn about the vintage gold mining equipment.

Bathurst Goldfields. Source: school excursions
Bathurst Goldfields. Source: school excursions

The top 10 must see heritage sites suggested by President of the Bathurst District Historical Society, Alan McRae are:

  1. Flagstaff next to the Maquarie River
  2. Old Government Cottage
  3. Machattie Park
  4. Old Bathurst Hospital
  5. Abercrombie House
  6. Webb & Co.
  7. Convict settlement area
  8. Royal Hotel building
  9. The Court House
  10. Bathurst Goldfields
Royal Hotel. Source: traveller
Royal Hotel. Source: traveller
Abercrombie House. Source: abercrombiehouse.com
Abercrombie House. Source: abercrombiehouse.com

With 200 years worth of history, Bathurst is easily one of Australia’s most iconic towns and offers more than just car racing. It is an integral part of Australia’s history. To learn more about what Bathurst has to offer you can visit www.bathurstregion.com.au