During my time in Central West NSW as I completed my regional work, I was lucky enough to enjoy my free time exploring the region and attending a variety of local events. Although not on the typical traveller’s itinerary, I was amazed by the spirit of Australia visible here and believe everyone should come to experience rural life during their time in this varied country.
From rodeos to races, shopping to hiking, I wanted to shine a light on this region and what makes it so special.
I have highlighted a selection of towns and areas in the Central West which are particularly memorable to me and may be of interest to anyone planning a trip through the area or moving to the Central West.
Dubbo is the centre of the Central West and the main gateway to the rest of the country. There is a train station with connections to Sydney within seven hours and an airport with a flight time of 45 mins to the coast. The city is large and has an actual high street, two main malls and fast food.
This was a big draw for us, and we came to Dubbo around once a month to treat ourselves to takeaway pizza or McDonalds as well as a shopping spree. The city is best known for Dubbo Zoo and its unique experiences such as feeding giraffes. There is also the Dubbo Gaol and other historical sights.
If you visit the Central West it is unlikely you will be able to miss out Dubbo but it is a great starting point to an exploration of the area and if you move to the Central West is your city haven in the country! I recommend Press, Dubbo for a memorable dining experience - amazing local food and fresh modern decor which kept us coming back time and time again!
The area of the Central West that I spent the most time in was my local town of Warren. Warren is situated firmly in the middle of the region and is around an hour and a half’s drive from Dubbo. This small town may not seem like a lot but is full of a fantastic community that supports and cheers each other on.
Some of my most memorable stories in this town revolved around Saturdays. Most weekends during the winter, there is a Rugby game and it seems that the whole town shows up to support. This was a highlight of our social calendar and we would happily cheer on the boys from the side-lines in the daytime and celebrate their win or commiserate their loss in the Golf Club in the evening. Many of the members were other young people in the town so we became friends. Every so often there was a special event such as Ladies Day. All the ladies got dressed up, were served food and champagne, and generally just had a good time with the town! Through these Rugby games we got to know members of the community and feel like we really belonged.
Another event was the Warren Show which is annual and timed well with my first few weeks on the farm. Some of the highlights of this day were the art competitions amongst the children of the area, horse racing and lawn mower racing. Yes, you heard me right, grown men and women would bring along their sit on lawn mowers and race around a track to hilarious results! There were also competitions for best cattle and livestock, wool, and bakes.
The town may be small but has a unique wetland area perfect for walks with friends, cute cafes to discover and a warm community at its heart.
This large town around two hours north of Dubbo hosts the biggest rodeo in the region once a year. I had the opportunity to attend this and experience my first ever rodeo. It was as bonkers as you might imagine, and we watched in awe and concern as men, women and children were tossed off horse and cattle. The event is thrilling to watch, especially the bucking and cattle wrangling events.
It is also an opportunity to drink and be merry and as it seems that many people from the surrounding areas attend, you tend to see a lot of people you recognise.
Honourable mention must go to our journey back from Coonamble where I hit a kangaroo in the dusk. Luckily my car was only mildly damaged, but the kangaroo sadly did not survive our chance encounter.
Another large town two hours north of Dubbo, Nyngan is famous for 'The Big Bogan', a large statue in the centre of town depicting a local taking part in his favourite pastime - fishing!
We came to this town to attend the Duck Creek Picnic Races which were highly anticipated in the area. This was my first experience of betting on horses and I was devastated when my second choice won but I had decided to not pick him!
This event is popular with the younger members of the Central West and in the evening, there is a large bonfire with singing acts. Many people camp overnight but we chose to opt out as it was so cold.
Warrumbungle National Park
This is a National Park like no other. In amongst flatlands as far as the eye can see, it is quite a shock to see these hills appear on the horizon. After no elevation for so long we were all excited for a hike and this collection of hills known as the Warrumbungles was a welcome sight!
The park was created with ancient volcanic activity and features stark rock formations and heavy bush land. This is Australia's only Dark Sky Park making it the go to stop for Astronomers and Stargazers. We really enjoyed our day here and I realised how unfit I was trying to hike to the iconic breadknife!
This is a brief overview of my exploration of the Central West and experiences in each unique town. If you are planning to explore this part of Australia enjoy its laidback attitude to life and embrace the warm spirit of community clear in each part of this region.