Well before it became a gathering place for motor racing enthusiasts, the Mount was an important part of the local Wiradjuri tribe's culture. The Mount was called ‘Waluu', which means ‘to watch over' and it was from the vantage points now known as Skyline & McPhillamy Park that the young Wiradjuri men would watch over their land and the movements of travellers to and from the valley.
Mount Panorama began as a dirt-track/tourist-drive carved out of the bald hills around the bustling city of Bathurst in the mid 1930s. The Council of the time, specifically Mayor Martin Griffin, had a vision for a premier motor racing circuit with the sharp hills, hairpin bends and a fast downhill straight that would inspire awe and demand respect from all who took up the challenge for years to come. Strong support from the New South Wales Light Car Club, Auto Cycle Union and the Federal Government, through a national employment relief scheme, saw this vision become a reality. On 17 March 1938 Mayor Martin Griffin declared the Mount Panorama Scenic Drive open. He always knew that the road was going to be used for motor racing but Depression Era funds weren't easy to come by, so he had to create a ruse. At Easter 1938 the first races were held and except for the war (WWII), have been run ever since.
Mount Panorama is indisputably a Mecca for motor racing fans all over Australia and around the world. On 16 April 1938, Mount Panorama attracted an overwhelming 20,000 spectators to its first race, The Australian Tourist Trophy.
The Pits - Early YearsPhotographs of the early days of racing on Mount Panorama show the crowd leaning over wire fences, vehicles on dirt tracks, officials in canvas tents, and drivers with gloves, goggles and jacket, but no helmet. The facilities at Mount Panorama were non-existent during this time, with nothing more than dirt and some lines marking out a pit space for each car.
Of more recent times, Mount Panorama has undergone some serious refurbishment to ensure the legacy of this icon lives on for generations to come. The spiritual home of Australian motorsport has been well and truly established through the staging of 46 consecutive Bathurst 1000 races (formerly 500). The Mount has seen drivers come and drivers go, with few ever completely dominating the merciless curves and unforgiving straights. In 2006, 194,000 spectators turned out not only to witness Craig Lowndes edge out Rick Kelly for his 2nd Bathurst title, but also to farewell one of the best racing car drivers Australia has ever produced - Peter Brock, King of the Mountain. Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup are so far the only drivers to win the new Peter Brock trophy, winning all three Bathurst 1000 races since its introduction.Courtesy: Mount Panorama.
Bathurst and Mount Panorama are located roughly 2.5 hours west of Sydney. The fastest route is through the Blue Mountains on the Great Western Highway.Bathurst also has a direct route to the ACT via Cowra and Boorowa. It takes around 3.5 hours to get to Canberra.
N.B: Please note that the Blue Mountains do become busier during weekends, especially Sunday afternoons heading back to Sydney. At the end of the Race on Sunday, the roads are so packed that it can take up to 5 hours to return to Sydney.
Bathurst has a medium-sized regional airport located at the outlying suburb of Raglan, roughly 10 minutes from the Bathurst CBD. Regional Express (or REX) services Bathurst twice daily. Flight time is approximately 40mins depending on weather.
Local buses and taxis are available to ferry passengers to a desired location. The airport also has rent-a-car companies based there for those booking a hire car for the duration of their stay.
Regional Express website
Countrylink has daily XPT trains to Bathurst from Sydney Central with selected stops in between. Travel time is approximately 3.5 hours.
CityRail has a daily return service (Bathurst Bullet) from Sydney to Bathurst. Trains also travel to Lithgow numerous times during the day, and passengers can book to continue to Bathurst via Coach. Prior bookings for coaches are essential and seats do fill up.
Both train and coaches stop at the Bathurst Railway Station, located at the bottom of Keppel Street. Local buses and taxi are available ferry passengers to a desired location.
Australia Wide Coaches has a daily bus that travels to and from Sydney. The coach originates in neighbouring Orange, and does require passengers to pre-book their seats for collection in Bathurst. Travel time is approximately 3.5 hours.
Australia Wide Coaches website
Orange (1 hours away), Lithgow (45mins away), Oberon (45mins away) or Blayney (30mins away). Mudgee is about 1hour 40mins away. Personally, I wouldn't like to be driving the Sofala road at 2am dodging all the wild life to make the 5:30am start.
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