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.
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.