ROCKLEY, O'CONNELL LOOP
Tour 1 - 91km
A lovely country drive through some of the less travelled areas of the district. Initially the tour takes you past orchards famous for cherries and apples, then on to horse breeding country around the Lagoon and finally through sheep grazing country. Most of the road is sealed but where it is unsealed the road is quite windy and has many creek crossings.
Bathurst, and the beautiful rural districts that surround it, are at the heart of the Cobb & Co empire. James Rutherford and his partners brought Cobb & Co to NSW and established their headquarters at Bathurst in 1862. From there they carried mail, gold and passengers out to the surrounding villages and beyond, especially following the gold finds to places like Rockley and O'Connell. Many of the roads on these tours have changed little since those days, almost 140 years ago.
Look out for remnants of the past, other than the buildings, such as the old peppercorn trees, old fence lines and creek crossings. They are a poignant link with our past and the pioneering spirit of the gold rush days.
The village has been the home of the Sisters of the St. Joseph since the 1870s. Their founder, the first Beautified Saint Mary Mackillop, on her third visit to Perthville, had to stay in the humble 'Hen and Chicken' Coaching Inn, which still stands today.
There is a popular swimming hole at Stephen's Park Rockley, with picnic facilities.
Rockley dates from 1813 and is classified as an historic village by the National Trust. There are many museums and craft shops to browse through.
The home of famous trotting stables. Interestingly many trotters are descendants of the coach horses owned by Cobb & Co and its General Manager James Rutherford. Behind the 'lagoon' the old village sits along the rise overlooking the water.
O'Connell village has been classified by the National Trust and is listed on the Register of the National Estate. Buildings date to the 1820s. The Plough Inn, 1883, was one of 13 inns established before 1835. 'Connell was an important staging post for Cobb & Co and other coach ompanies. There is a lovely picnic spot beside the Fish River near O'Connell at Flat Rock.
Kelso, the site of the first settlement west of the Blue Mountains, was an inportant mail depot for Cobb & Co. The coach would have had to stop for a toll-bar near Kelso.
Raglan is located 7 km east of Bathurst. The first Agricultural Horticultural and Pastoral Society west of the Blue Mountains was established in Raglan in 1862 – the same year that Cobb & Co established their headquarters in Bathurst.
Some of these roads are not sealed, check with the Visitor Information Centre before leaving about the suitability of your vehicle for the trip.