When John Oxley passed through in 1817, he was so unimpressed by the area's clay soil, poor timber and swamps that he claimed 'it is impossible to imagine a worse country'. Today Forbes is a pleasant spot bisected by Lake Forbes, a large lagoon in the middle of town. Tthe discovery of gold caused the town to be built and the legends of old bushrangers keep it buzzing today.
Railway station, Farrand and Union sts; (02) 6852 4155
Nearby national parks
Albion Hotel The first hotel in Forbes, the Albion Hotel was so popular during the gold rush that it allegedly sold more alcohol in the 1860s than any hotel in Australia – not bad for an outback town. The hotel is a former Cobb & Co depot and now houses displays on the history of the gold strikes and the must-see Bushranger Hall of Fame. Lachlan St.
Historical Museum: features relics associated with bushranger Ben Hall, a vintage colonial kitchen and antique farm machinery; open 2–4pm; Cross St; (02) 6851 6600.
Cemetery: graves of Ben Hall, Kate Foster (Ned Kelly's sister), Rebecca Shields (Captain Cook's niece) and French author Paul Wenz; Bogan Gate Rd.
King George V Park: memorial where 'German Harry' discovered gold in 1861, and a pleasant spot for picnics and barbecues; Lawler St.
Dowling St Park: memorial marks the spot where John Oxley first passed through in 1817; Dowling St.
Lake Forbes: picnic spots, barbecue facilities, fishing, and a walking and cycling track; off Gordon Duff Dr.
Historical town walk: includes the post office (1862) and the town hall (1861) where Dame Nellie Melba performed in 1909; map from visitor centre.
Local arts and crafts: brochure from visitor centre.
Gum Swamp Sanctuary: birdlife and other fauna, best seen at sunrise or sunset; 4 km S.
Banderra Estate Vineyard: French winemaker with cellar-door tastings; off Orange Rd; 5 km E.
Chateau Champsaur: oldest winery in the area (1886), with cellar-door tastings; (02) 6852 3908; 5 km SE.
Ben Hall's Place: marks the site where the bushranger was shot dead by policemen; 8 km W.
Jemalong Weir: with parklands by the Lachan River, good spot for fishing and picnicking; 24 km S.
Cafes & restaurants around town
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Campsites around town
Holy Camp camping area 57 kmThis is a nice, shaded spot 15 km west of Grenfell via Holy Camp Rd. From the camp you can do the Euladrie Walk, which follows an old logging road to the base of the escarpment and then climbs steeply to Peregrine... Find out more
Ben Halls camping area 58 kmThe grassy unpowered campsites here are set beside historic Seatons Farm, and are a 30 min walk from Ben Halls Cave. The farm is a well-preserved Depression-era structure, with interpretive signs that give a... Find out more
Wallaby camping area 60 kmTake a walk along the Wallaby Walking Track (4 km, 1 hr, medium difficulty) and you may catch a glimpse of a red-necked wallaby or swamp wallaby. Alternatively, sneak out after dark with a torch and see if you can catch... Find out more
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Canobolas Forest Park 87 kmThis is a peaceful picnicking and camping area surrounded by a 60-year-old pine forest. There are picnic tables, walking tracks and trout in the creek nearby. It’s 20 km south of Orange via Cadia Rd then Four Mile... Find out more
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Greenbah camping area 90 kmPack your binoculars and bird-identification guide before heading to this camping area next to Greenbah Creek, as it’s a top spot for birdwatching. To reach it, turn off Trewilga–Baldry Rd onto the Sawpit... Find out more
Bakers Shaft Reserve 96 kmThis camping area is around 20 km west of the historic town of Carcoar. Follow the Mid-western Hwy through Mandurama, then turn north for Burnt Yards; take Bakers Rd then Junction Park Rd. This is 2WD, dry-weather access... Find out more
Caravan parks around town
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Spicer Caravan Park 32 kmThis is a budget-priced, council-owned park with good basic facilities, about 2 km from the town centre. It is in a quiet spot, off the main highway, about 16 km from the Parkes satellite dish. Bookings are required in... Find out more
Peak Hill Caravan Park 76 kmThis owner-operated park offers a range of accommodation and is ideal for an overnight stay. It is a small, budget-priced park, located off the main highway and just a short walk from the town centre. The owners supply... Find out more
Ace Caravan Park 96 kmThis is an owner-operated park with a good choice of accommodation. The park is just 500 metres from the town centre and easily accessible from the major highways.... Find out more
Hotels, motels & B&Bs around town
Rest areas around town
Forbes rest area 1 km
On the riverbank 500m north-west of the highway via Junction St. For 48-hour stays only.
23km N of Forbes (R) or 10km S of Parkes (L)
Small area just off the highway.
Weddin View rest area 48 km
82km E of West Wyalong (L) or 22km W of Grenfell (R)
Adjacent to the highway under a few trees.
Bogolong Rest Area 52 km
95 km E of West Wyalong (L) or 9 km W of Grenfell (R)
Large area just off the highway. Limited shade.
Grenfell rest area 58 km
Just off the highway on the south side of town.
T/O 81km E of West Wyalong (R) or 23km W of Grenfell (L)
Secluded bush setting in Weddin Mountains National Park 13km south-west of the highway via Lynchs Rd (unsealed) and Nowlands Rd (partly unsealed).
Marsden rest area 62 km
36km NE of West Wyalong (R) or 69km SW of Forbes (L)
Just off the highway among a few trees on the banks of Bland Creek.
Tyagong Creek rest area 71 km
31km E of Grenfell (R) or 24km W of Cowra (L)
Adjacent to the highway among a few trees.
Cowra park area 80 km
Opposite the information centre.
Cowra rest area 82 km
Just off the highway on the east side of town at Ramage Park.
Molong park area 87 km
Just off the highway on the banks of Molong Creek.
29km NW of Orange (R) or 5km SE of Molong (L)
Just off the highway under shady trees.
Rosewood rest area 90 km
15km N of Peak Hill (R) or 3km SW of Tomingley (L)
Just off the highway among a few trees.
Wyalong Park Area 93 km
West side of town
Small parking area just off the highway.
3 km E of West Wyalong (L) or 101 km W of Grenfell (R)
Small area just off the highway. Good facilities. Limited shade.
Gamboola rest area 97 km
17km NW of Orange (L) or 17km SE of Molong (R)
Just off the highway among some trees.
Bell River rest area 98 km
42km S of Wellington (L)
Adjacent to the highway. For southbound only.
8km NE of Tomingley (L) or 45km SW of Dubbo (R)
Just off the highway surrounded by trees.
What's on around town
Jazz Festival: Jan.