2018 – Part 11 – Journey to Canberra, the scenic route

Departing Katoomba

Filled from another buffet breakfast we packed up and checked out of the Carrington Hotel. While I was checking out, a fellow guest chatted with Amber where he remarked the placed had changed since he was here for his wedding, in 1947! I overheard the conversation and he remarked that after World War 2, things were taking time to get back to normal given all the demands of Australia to supply people and materials in the war effort. We wished him well and continued our drive on the Great Western Highway toward Bathurst.

Katoomba to Canberra, via Bathurst & Cowra
Approximately 415km
Travel time including stops: 7 hours

Our route from Google map screenshot.

Govett’s Leap

Govett’s Leap lookout

This lookout is under 20 km away from Katoomba and here we were greeted with a nearly vacant parking lot with another spectacular view of the Blue mountains. 

Govett’s Leap

This one I found more impressive than Echo Point as we could hear and see a waterfall, and spend many minutes listening and following the birds flying around the valley.  Listening to the many birds along with the waterfall was quite peaceful — once you get accustom to the sounds of Cockatoos.

Cockatoo in flight

After we left the lookout we continued heading west where the road descended quickly into the interior of New South Wales. We took this route because I wanted to do a car related thing — Bathurst.  It’s not a vacation until I find something car related!

Waterfall at Govett’s Leap.

Bathurst, Mount Panorama and National Motor Racing Museum

Okay, I admit we didn’t spend much time in the town, as once we past the University we saw our destination, the race track.  It’s hard to miss with the overhead sign.  If you miss that, there is a small sign on the hillside:

Mount Panorama

Before getting on the track we checked out the National Motor Racing Museum. Once past the gift shop, the museum was filled to the brim with old race cars and motorcycles.  The museum had the complete experience, complete with the smell being a combination of fuel, oil, and rubber, as if all the vehicles just dashed into the museum from a hot lap on the track.Helpful for tourists like us, the museum had a section detailing the history of the track and how it came to be the pinnacle of tracks in Australia.

The museum is totally worth the visit, and even had some of the vehicles available for purchase!  If you are a race fan, visiting the museum is a must.  Before we left, we looked at the items in the gift shop and I was impressed with this mat, forget a city grid to play on!

Mount Panorama Track

Once outside it was time to try out the track.  Outside of race events, the Mount Panorama track is a public road. There is a winery and a couple bed & breakfasts only accessible from the track. It was surreal to drive the track and pass the sign for the winery.  Click here for the time-lapse video.  Two minute track record?How about 30 seconds all the while maintaining the 60 km/h speed limit?

Track rules

If you don’t want to watch the video (yet), here are a few of the pictures that Amber snapped while we toured the track:

This track is cool. The start/finish is the flattest straight, as past turn one, the second straight starts climbing up the hill. This isn’t just a crest in the ground but a good short and steep hill climb.  Just as quickly as you climb there are esses as you begin to descend down. We took a second lap and had our picnic lunch on the hillside over looking the rest of the track.

Picnic Lunch at the Track

Drive to Canberra

I’ll get the time lapse videos of the drive up on YouTube soon.  In the meantime, the drive was easy-going. 

Yup. Kangaroo warning sign

We were on country roads, one lane each way, with rolling countryside that was dotted with many cattle and sheep farms during our afternoon drive.  The 100 km/h speed limit certainly helped to make the drive enjoyable.

Heading to Canberra

Although a few construction spots slowed us, it looked like the road was going to significantly improve in a few years.


We arrived into Canberra with time to stop at a mall to get something vital for blogging — an adapter plug for the Mac power supply.  As the Apple Store employee was completing the sale she asked “Where are you off to?” and I replied instantly “Here.”  From there we made the short drive to our hotel.  Our home base for the next two nights.

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