Mount Panorama is the most iconic race track in Australia and up there on the list of world-class race tracks that both fans and drivers really want to visit (and race on!). One of those bucket list destinations.
I am very fortunate that I get to visit and work at the circuit five times a year, but I know that for most people, visits are far less frequent.
With that in mind, I’ve complied all of my best tips and advice into this single blog post that can be used for any major motorsport event at Mount Panorama in the regional New South Wales town of Bathurst, the most popular with first-time fans being the Bathurst 1000 and the Bathurst 12 Hour.
How Do You Get To Mount Panorama?
Mount Panorama is just outside the township of Bathurst, less than a 10-minute drive from the heart of the town.
To get to Bathurst, it’s about a 3-hour drive west out of Sydney via the Great Western Highway through the scenic Blue Mountains.
That said there are two ways to get to Bathurst from Sydney if you are driving. The aforementioned Great Western Highway being the most popular or Bells Line of Road (which joins back up with the Great Western Highway at Lithgow).
Of the two roads, if it is your first time driving out to Bathurst for any of the races, I would strongly sticking with the Great Western Highway. Not only will you get the chance to make a very short detour at Katoomba to see The Three Sisters rock formation (Echo Point Lookout) but the road is better suited to manage traffic (and accidents), something that is common, particularly on the Monday morning after the race meetings.
Driving directly from Brisbane or Melbourne, will take you through some scenic back roads. But I’ve never done those drives, so follow Google Maps.
If you don’t feel like driving, there is the option of catching the train. CountryLink runs regional rail services between Sydney and Bathurst. However, not having a car will limit your movements once you get to Bathurst, and you will miss out on some great places to stop to get stunning views of the scenic Blue Mountains on the way.
Where To Stay For Races At Mount Panorama
While Bathurst is home to several big events each year, but accommodation can be hard to come by.
The primary accommodation option for the two biggest events at Mount Panorama, the Bathurst 12 Hour and Bathurst 1000, is camping. The circuit has been well set up with a number of campgrounds around the venue that are only open during major events. That said they are well serviced with essential facilities, especially showers and toilets.
My personal pick if I had to camp at the track is the paddock campground. However, this is the main pick for all regulars to The Mountain, so you will need to book early as it’s one of the first to book out.
If camping isn’t your thing. Don’t worry it’s not mine either. Then there are a few hotels around Bathurst, the most famous of which is the Rydges Hotel built alongside the circuit (at The Chase).
Hotels in and around Bathurst make most of their money during these big events so prices are extremely high and they book out very early. That said if you look around, there are hotels at a variety of price points. If you’re late making the decision to go to Mount Panorama, keep an eye out as the hotels do get some cancellations as the event gets closer and you might be able to pick up a deal.
Having stayed in quite literally every hotel in Bathurst over the years, here are some of my picks, well beyond the Rydges I just mentioned.
- Panorama Bathurst – Clean, comfortable, modern rooms, and the restaurant on site serves some of the best pub meals in Bathurst
- Littomore Hotels and Suites – The most recently refurbished option in Bathurst. Fresh and comfortable with a variety of rooms.
- Heritage Inn Bathurst – Offers the best variety of room types and is off the main road.
Alternatively, if you can rustle a group of people, renting a house in Bathurst could also be an option for accommodation. There are plenty of locals that rent out their houses during these events. However, I’ve found these prices have skyrocketed in recent years, and instead of charging a fixed fee, they charge by the number of people staying in the house, even if they bring their own bedding.
Getting To And From The Mount Panorama Track
Unless you are camping at the track and well stocked up, you are going to need a car to get into and around Bathurst. While the township of Bathurst is quite small and you can walk around the main part of town quite easily. It’s a bit of a hike (uphill) to get to the track from town.
If you are staying even further away, having a car becomes invaluable. There really aren’t shuttle busses or any other ways to get to and from the track.
Food Options At Mount Panorama
Being a temporary venue that is for the majority of the year parkland, there is very little in terms of permanent food options at Mount Panorama.
What the venue does rely on is a good selection of food trucks that show up for every major event at the circuit.
At the Bathurst 1000 and the Bathurst 12 Hour, you will absolutely find an amazing variety of vendors set up both at the top of the mountain (McPhillmay Park) and down the bottom behind the small grandstand. Some vendors also get the chance to set up in the paddock area.
For smaller events like the Bathurst 6 Hour, you might only find vendor setup at the bottom of the mountain.
What To Do In The Evenings During Events At Mount Panorama
Bathurst is a buzz when motor racing comes to town. You’ll find most of the pubs in town offering a decent feed and some sort of live entertainment over the course of a race weekend. The pubs are plentiful, with several scattered throughout the town. Just a matter of looking for one that grabs your interest.
A couple of my personal recommendations include The Oxford (especially B-Town BBQ upstairs) and Jack Duggans Irish Pub for a couple of beverages and solid meal.
However if you are looking for a quieter night there is plenty of other options for dinner around Bathurst. There’s everything from fast food through to fancy restaurants in the center of town. Just a matter of going for a bit of a walk around the main block to find something you are looking for.
Spending Time in Bathurst Before or After
While the race is the main attraction, there are a couple of things to do in Bathurst if you’d like to spend an extra day or two there. I’ve put together a comprehensive guide covering all that it has to offer, but motor racing fans will definitely want to visit the National Motor Racing Museum next to the circuit for sure.
The trip to and from Mount Panorama is also a great opportunity to visit the famous Blue Mountains on the way through. I have also put together a post covering all that the Blue Mountains have to offer, which you can read here.
Mount Panorama Tips
Bathurst’s Mount Panorama circuit is a fantastic race track that you need to see at both the bottom and top of the mountain.
The good thing about that, at the bigger events, especially the Bathurst 12 Hour and the Bathurst 1000, there is a bus service that transports spectators between the two, which is well worth it. From memory, the bus costs $5, but it’ll save you a bunch of time and walking up the mountain (which is only accessible from outside the circuit is a killer).
Mount Panorama offers plenty of great vantage points to watch all the action; make sure you walk around both the top and the bottom of the track. It’s definitely not the sort of track you sit and watch the action from one corner; it’s well worth moving around. The benefit of these longer endurance races in Bathurst means you have time to see the action from various spots.
For more information about the Bathurst 12 Hour including maps, camping options and where to buy tickets, head over to the Bathurst 12 Hour website.
Alternatively, for information about the Bathurst 1000, visit the Supercars website.
For more travel tips, make sure you check out the rest of my blog posts as well.
And if you have a travel-related question that you would like me to answer, head over to my contact page to get in touch and let me know.