Five wildly playful adventures in Forbes

By Helen Hayes 29 September 2022
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The town of Forbes in Central New South Wales surprises with an array of adventures that offer thrills, spills and gills.

While Forbes was popular with fortune hunters trying to find their pot of gold in the rich-veins around these parts back in the mid-1860s, these days it attracts those wanting to uncover their treasure in nature.

This vibrant inland town, a five-hour drive from Sydney over the verdant Blue Mountains, is a mix of history, natural beauty, wildlife and fun activities that will get your heart rate pumping – some, more than others.

Discover the history and culture of the traditional owners of this land, the Wiradjuri, admire many different forms of art from sculptures to murals, and explore the pioneering history of this gold town with its restored buildings that open a window to the past. So too, do the lovingly restored vintage vehicles in McFeeters Motor Museum and the fascinating exhibits in the Forbes Historical Museum, including the story of bushranger Ben Hall, who struck gold the lazy way, by stealing it, but paid the ultimate price, shoot down by police at age 27.

Add to this the meandering waters of the Lachlan River, gurgling its way to the junction with the Murrumbidgee, and pretty Lake Forbes, which is in town, and you have a mesmerising landscape, with fertile soil a boon for agriculture.

The waterways of Forbes are also front and centre in the range of fun adventures to be had; here are five to get you started.

Hide and seek

There is something so alluring about birds when you are out in the countryside, even if you don’t know the species of the bird you are looking at or which bird is responsible for the birdsong that rings so sweetly through the trees. Forbes is a popular destination for birdwatching, with the place to go Gum Swamp Wetland, a few minutes’ drive out of town. The Wetland now has four bird hides for birdwatchers or photographers to stay out of sight to try and catch some of the 160 species of birds seen here, including rare and endangered species including the swift parrot and the grey falcon. Not so endangered is the giant goanna you will see at Gum Swamp. At 20 metres long, this striking statue, known as Gugaa in the Wiradjuri language, is one of the installations of the Sculpture Down the Lachlan public art trail.

Hire a kayak and explore Lake Forbes. Image credit: Courtesy Forbes Shire Council

Drop a line

With two waterways in Forbes, the Lachlan River and Lake Forbes, fishing is popular for locals and visitors alike. Fish for Murray Cod and Yellow Belly (golden perch), two of the most prolific species to be found in the waters. Fish from the bank of Lake Forbes, with plenty of shady trees to sit under, or opt for the fishing platform at Lions Park. You can also fish from a kayak if you want to be even closer to the action.

Try to reel in some cod along the Lachlan with some cheese or worms, however there is no fishing in the breeding season from September to November. Remember your fishing licence, and if you don’t have one, you can get one in town along with fishing gear and local advice.

Lake Forbes also has the Ski Dam, which is perfect for picnics in summer along with aquatic pursuits such as waterskiing, jet skiing and wakeboarding. Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are also an excellent way to explore the tranquil surrounds.

Yammering about Yamma

Bushwalking or the more leisurely forest bathing are all popular in Forbes, along with the more adrenaline-inducing mountain biking. Stroll or go for a leisurely cycle around Lake Forbes, bushwalk in Gum Swamp, or Back Yamma State Forest is the place to go for hammering through the bush on two wheels, with plenty of trails.  Home of the Back Yamma Big Foot MTN Enduro, Back Yamma is a 4,400-hectare state forest stretching from Forbes to Parkes and Eugowra. Lycra-clad mountain bikers have a good selection of tracks and fire-trails to ride on, for people of all levels from beginners to experts.

Back Yamma State Forest mountain biking. Image credit: Courtesy Parkes Shire Council 

Go bush

Keen mountain bike riders can make sure to wring every minute out of the experience in Back Yamma State Forest, as you can camp in the forest for free. The campground is even pet-friendly and has barbecue facilities to cook up some of the beautiful local produce you can pick up in town.

Holidaymakers driving a campervan or caravan will be pleased to know that Forbes is certified as ‘RV Friendly’ with a 48-hour free rest area for RVs at Wheogo Park, or opt for a van site, campsite or ditch the van for a cabin, at one of the four caravan parks around town. There is also a great range of other, more salubrious accommodation offerings, from charming bed and breakfasts to riverside cabins, country pubs or motels.

Wiradjuri ways

To learn about, commemorate and show respect for the long-held connection to this land by the Wiradjuri people, visit the Wiradjuri Dreaming Centre.  Created by the Forbes Wiradjuri Community, the Centre is engrossing and fascinating. Around the Centre take time to really look at the totem poles that tell the cultural stories, along with a yarning circle, and painted mural. Don’t miss the bronze statue by artist Brett ‘Mon’ Garling next to the Centre. The striking statue, called ‘Family Matters’, is of two Indigenous women with a child returning from gathering food. It is example of the work undertaken between the Forbes Arts Society and the Wiradjuri Dreaming Centre committee and also part of the Sculpture down the Lachlan public art trail.

This sculpture, along with the truly spectacular Gugaa, a totem for the Wiradjuri, is truly amazing, much like Forbes.

Brought to you by Amazing Forbes NSW, the Destination Brand of Forbes Shire Council.

Plan a country trip and Find Yourself… in amazing Forbes today! For more information visit or call the Forbes Visitor Information Centre on 02 6852 4155 or [email protected]