Things to do in Parkes
Parkes is home to the CSIRO Radio Telescope, one of Australia's most prominent landmarks and star of the 2000 movie The Dish. More recently Parkes has become known as the 'Elvis capital of Australia' with the annual Parkes Elvis Festival that attracts thousands of visitors annually and unique Elvis museums open throughout the year.
Travel a little outside Parkes and see the quaint towns of Bogan Gate, Trundle, Peak Hill and Tullamore. From the Peak Hill Open Cut Mine, to some of the richest and most productive agricultural and grazing land in the State, Parkes Shire boasts many sights to see - including a history seeped with the discovery of gold.
Where is it and how do you get there?
Parkes is loacated close to the geographical centre of New South Wales, and Australia's demographic centre. It is approximately 359 kilometres from Sydney.
The Dubbo XPT runs daily from Sydney and stops at Orange with a connecting coach to Parkes. On Mondays, the Broken Hill Outback Explorer runs from Sydney and stops at Parkes. Additionally, on Monday to Friday and on Sundays, NSW TrainLink runs services from Sydney to Lithgow with a connecting coach to Parkes.
To check times, use the booking form on the left.
Travelling around Parkes is a breeze with a local bus service, a taxi service, car hire companies and coach tour operators.
What to do and see
The CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope (The Dish), approximately 20 kilometres north of Parkes, is one of Australia's most prominent landmarks. As portrayed in the movie, the giant dish towers over surrounding farmlands - a hi-tech piece of equipment ironically set in the middle of sheep paddocks!
Close to The Dish, the Visitor Discovery Centre allows you to explore the world of astronomy and features many displays, as well as hands on exhibits.
The Henry Parkes Centre on the northern approach to Parkes incorporates four unique museums including the:
- Parkes Visitor Information Centre - where you can learn about the area, grab a free map, refreshments and souvenirs as well as having your photo taken with a life sized Elvis.
- The King's Castle - an impressive collection of Elvis' personal artefacts owned by Greg Page, formerly the Yellow Wiggle. See flamboyant jewellery and clothing worn by Elvis, including his Gold Lamé Suit and items from his Graceland home.
- Parkes Motor Museum - exhibits heritage cars and motorcycles and other motoring memorabilia. Star attractions include the last Cadillac purchased by Elvis Presley, 1914 Alldays and Onions, 1940 Holden bodies Oldsmobile Convertible and a 1986 Jaguar XJ6.
- Henry Parkes Museum and Pioneer Park Antique Machinery Collection - houses a collection of historic buildings along with other items of significance including a wooden schoolhouse, two churches, a blacksmith shop, a Silver City Comet carriage, 45 restored tractors and over 10,000 other items.
Thirty kilometres north-east of Parkes, visit Goobang National Park and enjoy activities such as bushwalking, bird watching and camping. More than 300 plant species have been recorded in the park, including 40 species of orchids.
Don’t miss out on the Peak Hill Open Cut Mine located right in Peak Hill. Some of the old workings of this open cut gold mine have been preserved and there are several walking paths and viewing platforms as well as an opportunity to pan for gold.
While you are at Peak Hill, visit the Big Fish Fossil Hut and view specimens from ancient wildlife groups that have lived in Australia over the past 700 million years. As well as the largest fossil fish (the Xiphactinus) on display anywhere in Australia, see trilobites, ammonites and arinoids through to fish, amphibians and dinosaurs.
Take time to explore the smaller towns within Parkes Shire including Trundle and Tullamore. At Trundle walk along the longest wooden verandah in Australia at the Trundle Hotel and during the Easter weekend enjoy the Irish Festival at Tullamore.