Parkes NSW

You’ve got to love Parkes. Parkes is the little guy punching above its weight. Parkes made the epic journey from being a flyspeck in the dusty farmland of the Central West, to reaching the forefront of astronomy and space discovery.

They made a film about Parkes. The Dish. It was about a state-of-the-art  scientific facility erected in a sheep paddock to allow the world to tune in to the Universe.

Gold, agriculture and technology have also contributed to Parkes’ growth, and mining maintains the momentum – copper and, yes, still gold. But Parkes isn’t all work and no play.

Another Parkes icon is Elvis Presley. If you’re still hoping for proof that Elvis is still alive, come to Parkes in January and get swept up in the pulsating hysteria of the Elvis Festival.

ASK A LOCAL

"Everyone loves The Dish. The movie gave it a personality that is as important as its function. But much less well-known is the natural beauty of the Goobang National Park. People speed past on the Newell with no idea of what they're missing."

− Ken Purcell, tourist bus driver
48 HRS IN PARKES

DAY 1

Parkes doesn’t mind being associated with slow-lane tourism, because there’s plenty here to slow you down. Particularly if you like a dash of history in your travels. To get your bearings, take the short drive to the top of Memorial Hill to salute the Shrine of Remembrance and admire the dramatic views over Parkes and its surrounding farmland. Nearby Bushman’s Hill is the site of one of the area’s first gold mines, and the walking trails to the top reveal fascinating relics of the mining days. In town, much of the history and heritage is to be found in the many antique and curio stores, but Sir Henry Parkes who gave his name to the town still strikes a commanding presence at the intersection of Welcome and Clarinda Streets (Clarinda was the name of his wife). The Henry Parkes Centre on the northern fringe of town houses four museums honouring different facets of heritage from different eras. There’s the local historical museum, an antique machinery display, a vintage car and motorcycle collection, and the biggest collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia in the Southern Hemisphere. “Always On My Mind,” says curator Greg Page.

DAY 2

Head north on the Newell Highway to the Parkes Radio Telescope (20kms). There are an astronomical number of displays, exhibits and theatre presentations, plus a fine cafe. Remain on the Newell Highway till you reach Peak Hill (48kms from Parkes), a town synonymous with gold and which still offers a tourist gold mine experience with five impressive open cuts, walking trails and viewing platforms. Also visit the Big Fish Fossil Hut which displays fossilised species that have lived in Eastern Australia in the past 700 million years. Return to Parkes on the old road from Peak Hill through the emblematic Aussie country towns of Tullamore, Trundle and Bogan Gate. Pass up the opportunity, and you could become the first person to visit Trundle and not have a drink at the iconic National Trust-listed Trundle Hotel.

COMPULSORY

In 1993, 200 Elvis tragics attended the first Elvis Festival in Parkes. Today, it attracts more than 15,000. Some come from Sydney on the Elvis Express packed with faithfuls already sporting their dyed Pompadour hairstyles and blue suede shoes. On the second week of January each year, Parkes doesn’t just rock, it shakes, rattles and rolls as well.

CURIOSITY

They must have had bigger expectations for little Trundle, with a population of around 650. Its landmark hotel has the longest wooden veranda in NSW, at 87.6 metres. And it overlooks the widest main street in Australia, at 66 metres.

EVENTS

Parkes Food & Wine Options

  • Bella’s Cafe & Licensed Italian Restaurant, 245 Clarinda St.  02  6862 4212
  • Jorje’s Cafe, 249 Clarinda St.  02  6862 2177
  • Dish Cafe, Parkes Radio Telescope.  02  6862 1566
  • The Dock Restaurant, 10-14 Court St.  02  6862 3844
  • Coachman Hotel/Motel Restaurant, cnr Welcome & Dalton Sts.  02  6862 2622
  • Station Cafe & Restaurant, 82 Newell Highway.  02  6862 8444
  • The Railway Hotel, May St.  02  6862 1553
  • The Royal Hotel, 217 Clarinda St.  02  6862 2039

PARKES’ BEST BITE

There are some very good dishes at Dish Cafe at The Dish – Parkes’ famous radio telescope … but don’t miss the legendary gourmet beef and red wine pie. Out of this world!

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