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 First Impressions of Bathurst

Excitement is in the air, retailers are prospering and race goers are meeting up with old friends.  It is impossible to resist the buzz.

I’ve always avoided Bathurst.  I mean who wants to go to a place that attracts rev heads?

But now I’m walking through the city centre and I’m pleasantly surprised.  It’s quite beautiful. Unlike our North Coast towns where wooden houses sit side by side with ugly brick/tile McMansions, Bathurst is predominately old, brick, buildings ranging from Colonial through Victorian and Federation.  It is easy on the eye.  I vary my walks each day and come across well-tended gardens at their Spring best, houses from all the eras, playing fields and some sort of agricultural school with chickens and geese and a sheep.  Mt Panorama is ever present as a backdrop to the city.

In the centre of town parks are resplendently ready for the hordes that descend for the big race. Every shade of pale; white, cream and delicate pinks. The purple flowers are also strutting their stuff. Lilac wisteria festoons fences and roses are shyly promising to bloom. Deep purple and rosy buff irises abound and the lavender begs my fingers to trail through it so it can release its distinctive aroma.

The streets are wide, plenty of room for the bullock carts to do a “U-ey”.  I discover the Stockland Arcade, my office while I’m in town.  Comfy armchairs and free wi-fi.  I’m grateful.  I spend money there. 

Like Lismore, Bathurst relies heavily on levees for flood protection and pretty much ignores its river unless it floods when it demands recognition.

It feels like a young city, unlike our own towns which are home to sea and tree changers.  Bathurst does education and that could account for the average age being only 34.  It feels vibrant.

Race Day enthusiasts fill the city.  All signs point to Mt Panorama but you can also see it written big on the side of the iconic mount.  Every second person sports regalia from previous events.  They happily advertise motor oils, retail outlets, fuels, in fact anything remotely connected with cars.

There are camp grounds with hundreds of motorhomes, caravans, campers, tents and other assorted and interesting temporary homes. People have been coming in to town for days, ensuring that they get a prime possie for the big weekend. It’s a big party.

For the duration of the weekend daylight hours, Bathurst sounds as if it has been invaded by a swarm of angry wasps as the cars whizz around Mt Panorama. 

It’s infectious.  You can’t help but fall for Bathurst.

Maureen McDermott