CSIRO Parkes Observatory, Tourism New South Wales

Population 9825

Parkes is most famous for its huge telescope. It originated as a tent city, which grew into a town named Bushmans, built almost overnight when gold was found in the area in 1862. The name of the town changed following visits from New South Wales Colonial Secretary Henry Parkes in 1873. The main street, Clarinda Street, was named after Mrs Parkes the following year.

Visitor Information

66 Peak Hill Rd (cnr Newell Hwy); (02) 6862 8000

Nearby national parks

  • Goulburn River National Park

    At the heart of this national park is the Goulburn River, flanked by a deep gorge of sandstone cliffs honeycombed with caves. Wide sandy...more

  • Wollemi National Park

    Wollemi National Park, the second largest national park in the state and its largest wilderness area, is a primeval landscape of precipitous...more

  • Kanangra–Boyd National Park

    Kanangra–Boyd National Park’s majestic landscape of wild rivers and waterfalls, mountainous terrain and deep gorges is rimmed by...more

Nearby towns

  • Forbes

    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...more

  • Eugowra

    Situated on the rich basin of the Lachlan River, Eugowra is a tiny country town known for its crafts. Nearby on the Orange–Forbes road, the...more

  • Canowindra

    Canowindra, meaning 'home' in the Wiradjuri language, is in the Lachlan Valley with sandstone mountains to the west and the old volcano,...more

In Town

Pioneer Park Museum Set in a historic school and church, displays include early farm machinery and transport. The museum incorporates the collection of the previously separate Henry Parkes Historical Museum, which specialises in memorabilia from the gold rush, and includes the fascinating 1000-volume personal library of Sir Henry Parkes. Pioneer St, North Parkes; (02) 6862 3509.

Motor Museum: displays of vintage and veteran vehicles and local art and craft; Cnr Bogan and Dalton sts.

Memorial Hill: excellent views of the town and surrounds; Bushman St, North Parkes.

Kelly Reserve: playground and picnic and barbecue facilities in bush setting; Newell Hwy, North Parkes.

Bushmans Hill Reserve: take the walking trail to a lookout, passing mining relics and a memorial to those who lost their lives in local mines; Newell Hwy, North Parkes. 

Self-guide historical town walk and drive: highlights include the police station (1875), post office (c. 1880) and Balmoral, one of the town's oldest homes, noted for its iron lace, Italian marble and stained-glass windows; brochure from visitor centre.


Parkes CSIRO Radio Telescope Commissioned in 1961, the telescope is the largest and oldest of the 8 antennae making up the Australian Telescope National Facility. Read more

Condobolin This country town is where the 1st Australian Idol runner-up, Shannon Noll, has his roots. A lookout on Reservoir Hill gives views over the town, which is at the junction of 2 rivers and surrounded by red-soil plains. Mt Tilga, 8 km N, is said to be the geographical centre of NSW, and Gum Bend Lake, 5 km W, is a good spot for fishing and watersports. 95 km W.

Macusani Alpaca Farm and Shop: includes workshops throughout the year; Tichborne, 10 km S.

Peak Hill: working goldmine with lookout offering views of Parkes; 48 km N.

Cafes & restaurants around town

Dish Cafe

Made famous by the film The Dish, Parkes’ historic telescope is also host to a large visitor centre, housing, among other things, this lovely little cafe serving home-baked lunches and morning or afternoon teas to... Find out more

Parkes International Restaurant

Located at the Parkes International Comfort Inn, this restaurant and cocktail bar serves fantastic, great-value food. Choose from the diverse à la carte menu and blackboard specials. Bookings are essential on... Find out more

Station Hotel

The open-plan, modern bistro and bar here serve contemporary dishes, and imported beers and cocktails, in a casually chic setting. Sleek candlelit tables line the curved glass wall and moss-green club chairs invite... Find out more

Campsites around town

Terarra Creek camping area 42 km

To get to this sole camping area in the park, follow the Escort Way from Eugowra and keep an eye out for a NPWS sign pointing to a dirt road. The campground is a little under 5 km from the park entrance. The road is 2WD,... Find out more

Wanda Wandong camping area 47 km

Let the children run free in this spacious, grassy camping ground. Turn-off 4km north of Tomingley. The camping area is 18km east of the Newell Hwy. This is the best section of the park to visit if you are towing a... Find out more

Greenbah camping area 59 km

Pack 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

Wallaby camping area 77 km

Take 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

Canobolas Forest Park 78 km

This 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

Federal Falls camping area 78 km

The road in to Federal Falls camping area isn’t suitable for caravans or camper trailers, although 2WD vehicles are permitted. To get here, follow Pinnacle Rd from Orange and turn onto Towac Rd. There are a number... Find out more

Holy Camp camping area 86 km

This 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 88 km

The 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

Canobolas Caravan Park 90 km

This is a friendly and well-appointed caravan park on Bathurst Rd in Orange. There are shaded powered and unpowered tent sites as well as self-contained deluxe and standard cabins. Nearby attractions include wine-tasting... Find out more

Bakers Shaft Reserve 92 km

This 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

Spicer Caravan Park 1 km

This 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

Apex Riverside Tourist Park 33 km

The park is about 3 km from the town centre on a picturesque bend of the Lachlan River, which some sites overlook. It is managed on behalf of Apex and is of good quality.... Find out more

BIG4 Forbes Holiday Park 33 km

This is a very neat owner-operated park, about 2 km from the centre of town on Cowra Road. The park caters predominantly for tourists and has good amenities and most facilities. Bookings are required in peak periods.... Find out more

Forbes River Meadows Caravan Park 33 km

Located about 2 km south of Forbes along the highway, this owner-operated park is a convenient and ideal overnight stop. It has shady trees, large expanses of lawn and spotless amenities. We sometimes stay here when... Find out more

Peak Hill Caravan Park 46 km

This 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

Colour City Caravan Park 88 km

This is a council park with good basic facilities in a quiet, off-highway position, about 2 km north of the city centre, adjoining the showgrounds. It is good value at a budget price. Bookings are recommended all year... Find out more

Wellington Caves Holiday Complex 91 km

Relax and let a few days slip by at this spacious park, located 6 km south of the town centre alongside the Wellington Caves, a popular tourist attraction. It is a quality park and makes an ideal stopover. Bookings are... Find out more

Wellington Valley Caravan Park 96 km

On the Mitchell Highway on the eastern approach to Wellington this older park has been renovated and transformed. The convenient drive-through sites and grassy camping areas are a feature.... Find out more

Wellington Riverside Tourist Park 98 km

This is a well-maintained park on the banks of the Macquarie River, close to the highway and just a short walk to the centre of town. The park has good facilities at a budget price. Bookings are required at peak times... Find out more

Hotels, motels & B&Bs around town

Kadina B&B

Kadina offers traditional B&B accommodation with a generous helping of country warmth and hospitality. There are two comfortable guest rooms, one offering both a queen and single bed, and both have their own... Find out more

The Old Parkes Convent

Once upon a time, this Federation-era two-storey building housed the Sisters of Mercy boarding students. Today it is a quaint, rustic B&B in the heart of Parkes, offering two self-contained, air-conditioned... Find out more

Rest areas around town

Billabong Creek rest area 9 km

23km N of Forbes (R) or 10km S of Parkes (L)

Small area just off the highway.

Forbes rest area 32 km

At Forbes

On the riverbank 500m north-west of the highway via Junction St. For 48-hour stays only.

Rosewood rest area 60 km

15km N of Peak Hill (R) or 3km SW of Tomingley (L)

Just off the highway among a few trees.

Molong park area 65 km

At Molong

Just off the highway on the banks of Molong Creek.

Kingsley Fairborough park area 68 km

29km NW of Orange (R) or 5km SE of Molong (L)

Just off the highway under shady trees.

Tomingley Creek rest area 69 km

8km NE of Tomingley (L) or 45km SW of Dubbo (R)

Just off the highway surrounded by trees.

Bell River rest area 71 km

42km S of Wellington (L)  

Adjacent to the highway. For southbound only.

Two Mile Creek rest area 76 km

32km N of Molong (L)

Adjacent to the highway. For northbound only.

Gamboola rest area 78 km

17km NW of Orange (L) or 17km SE of Molong (R)

Just off the highway among some trees.

Weddin View rest area 78 km

82km E of West Wyalong (L) or 22km W of Grenfell (R)

Adjacent to the highway under a few trees.

Bogolong Rest Area 79 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 84 km

At Grenfell

Just off the highway on the south side of town.

Ben Halls Cave camping area 88 km

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).

Tyagong Creek rest area 89 km

31km E of Grenfell (R) or 24km W of Cowra (L)

Adjacent to the highway among a few trees.

Cowra park area 91 km

At Cowra

Opposite the information centre.

Cowra rest area 91 km

At Cowra

Just off the highway on the east side of town at Ramage Park.

Apsley rest area 92 km

9km S of Wellington (L)

Adjacent to the highway. For southbound only.

Marsden rest area 93 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.

Panai rest area 95 km

39km NE of Tomingley (L) or 14km SW of Dubbo (R)

Just off the highway among some large trees.

Narromine rest area 99 km

37km NW of Dubbo (R) or 3km E of Narromine (L)

Adjacent to the highway among a few trees.

What's on around town

Elvis Festival: Jan.

National Marbles Championships: Mar.

Parkes Astrofest: July.

Trundle Bush Tucker Day: Sept.

Country Music Spectacular: Oct.

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