National Motor Racing Museum + Mount Panorama, Bathurst

by | Last updated Feb 17, 2024 | Discover Australia Now, New South Wales | 0 comments

Peter Brock statue @ National Motor Racing Museum @ Mount Panorama

 

Like most countries, Australia has some big and wonderful museums to wander through in its major cities, but it also has many small and unique museums in its country towns. These unique museums are dotted all over the country and provide an insight into an aspect of Australian life. On a recent visit to Bathurst, I went to discover one such unique museum, the National Motor Racing Museum located on the Mount Panorama race track. 

I had heard about the museum and the race track (well which Australian hasn’t!), but never been before. Being a bit of a motor racing enthusiast, I predicted I would enjoy it, but it was a total surprise how much I enjoyed it! Even if you don’t find cars of great interest, I think you will find this museum and a drive on Mount Panorama just might change your mind. 

In this post on the National Motor Racing Museum + Mount Panorama in Bathurst, I will explain where the racing track and museum are, why they are in Bathurst and tips to enjoy your visit to them. So get your racing gear on and rev up your engines and let’s take a walk through the National Motor Racing Museum and then a drive on Mount Panorama before enjoying other things to see and do in Bathurst.

 

Organise your trip: You can buy your entrance ticket to the National Motor Racing Museum on entry. An adult ticket is currently $15. The museum is open 6 days a week from 9am to 4.30pm and is closed on a Tuesday except during school holidays. Stay at the Rydges Mount Panorama on the Mount Panorama Race Circuit for the total experience – book your stay here

Where is Mount Panorama and The National Motor Racing Museum?

 

Mount Panorama and The National Motor Racing Museum are located in Bathurst, a regional town in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales some 200km west of Sydney. The museum is found adjacent to Bathurst’s Mount Panorama motor racing circuit at the end of Conrad Straight.

 

Why is there a motor racing track in Bathurst with a Museum?

 

I guess it is only natural to have a motor racing museum where there is a motor racing track. Yep, it happened in the early 1930s when the Bathurst Mayor at the time, Martin Griffin, who enjoyed motor racing had a vision for Bathurst to have its own road race track. And so a dedicated race track was begun. And since 1963 it has been the host of the Bathurst 1000 every year usually held in October on the Labour Day long weekend. 

To celebrate motor racing in Bathurst and around Australia, the National Motor Racing Museum was opened. Well, it actually had humble beginnings as a temporary display, then known as The Bathurst Motor Racing Museum that was officially opened in 1988 by the late Peter Brock. But the collection of items has grown and covers all facets of motor sport from the 1920s to the present – it is now known as the National Motor Racing Museum. And you will see why when you visit.

 

A Walk through the National Motor Racing Museum

 

Before you even enter the museum there is relevant car racing stuff outside. You cannot miss the statue of the late Peter Brock and his Holden.

Inside the museum there are many displays, highlights include:

  • A lineup of some 100 cars and motor bikes from all eras with information boards telling you about them.
  • You will see Allan Moffat’s 1977 Bathurst winning Falcon.
  • There is a wing dedicated to Peter Brock, some say one of the best motor racing drivers Australia has seen.
  • There is Wayne Gardner’s 1987 500cc World Championship winning Honda Grand Prix motorcycle.
  • And wow, there is the wreckage of Chaz Mostert’s 2015 Ford Falcon and a video explaining the crash.
  • There are replicas of the 1963, 1966, 1967 and 1968 Bathurst 500 winning cars.
  • Many drivers have donated, or loaned, their helmets, their driving outfits along with trophies.
  • There is also an Immersive room bringing the sounds, sights and excitement of motor racing to life. 
  • On the way out you will can visit the shop for racing memorabilia and souvenirs.

All in all, there is plenty of motor racing stuff to see in the museum. As you cannot touch any of the items, if you are visiting Bathurst with kids, particularly little kids, they may not find the museum as interesting as older kids would. 

 

Vintage red cars at the Bathurst Motor Museum.
Motor bike section at the National Motor Racing Museum.
Bob Jane Bus at National Motor Racing Museum, Bathurst.
National Motor Racing Museum Marlboro Racing Car.
Motor Car Racing Suit at the National Motor Racing Museum, Bathurst.
Natioanl Racing Museum Bathurst Blue Ford.

Drive the Mount Panorama Circuit

 

You cannot come to the National Motor Racing Museum and not drive the Mount Panorama Circuit. And as you are at the museum, the entrance to the track is right there, as the museum is right at the end of Conrod Straight. This part of the track was originally called Main Straight but renamed Conrod  after a conrod failure that occurred in a driver’s car. a conrod for us non-mechanics, is the part of a piston engine which connects the piston to the crankshaft.

Mount Panorama Circuit is also a public road and when there is no racing, you can drive a lap of the track yourself for free. It is quite amazing to see that people live in properties along the Mount Panorama track that can only be accessed from the track. This is probably why a strict speed limit of 60 km/h (37 mph) is enforced.

The race track/road is 6.213km (3.861 miles) long with areas that wind up and down Mount Panorama.

 

Mount Panorama Track and sign from Rydges Mount Panorama hotel room.

The Bathurst 1000

 

The Bathurst 1000 is probably the most famous motor car race in Australia. It concludes when drivers complete 161 laps around the Mount Panorama circuit. This specific lap count, equivalent to approximately 1000 kilometres (hence the name “Bathurst 1000”), is a gruelling test of the vehicles and the drivers’ endurance and skill. I have watched this race all my life as my dad loved watching the race. It starts in the morning and ends around dinner time, taking about 8 hours all up.

Check out my video of my family and I driving the track. We had so much fun driving the circuit we did it a few times. During the day and at night and got different perspectives each time.

 

Sleep Trackside at Rydges Mount Panorama

 

To top the whole visit to Bathurst off we stayed at the Mount Panorama Rydges Hotel. This hotel is the only hotel situated on the track and is at the end of Conrad Straight a couple of hundred metres from the National Motor Racing Museum. Each morning we opened the curtains to fabulous views over the track. Check out my video.

All rooms are tastefully decorated and have a variety of bed options, a modern bathroom and a small kitchenette. But the best thing is all rooms have a balcony with a fabulous view over the Mount Panorama track. 

Click here to book your stay at the Mount Panorama Rydges Hotel.

 

What else to see and do in Bathurst

 

Though many visit Bathurst just to visit Mount Panorama and the museum, like I did, there are other things to see and do in Bathurst.

  • See 2000 rare fossils, a full-size T-rex dinosaur and marvel at the crystal display on a visit to the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum
  • See the home of former Prime Minister Ben Chifley & his wife, Elizabeth.
  • See the miniature trains on a visit to the Bathurst Rail Museum.
  • Love art, check out the latest exhibitions at the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery.
  • Walk around town and check out the old buildings. 
  • Doing Bathurst with kids – take the Kids to Bathurst Adventure Playground to run off their energy.
  • Indulge in an afternoon tea at Abercrombie House.
  • Enjoy some of the local food, wine or beer at Wags and Whiskey or Reckless Brewing and have an ice cream at Annies Ice-Cream Parlour – a Bathurst institution.

 

Our verdict on our visit to Bathurst

 

Being a motor enthusiast, I knew I would enjoy my visit to Mount Panorama and The National Motor Racing Museum, but add staying on the track at the Rydges Mount Panorama, just made the visit to Bathurst extra special. I would highly recommend combing all three during your visit to Bathurst. Plus, Bathurst is more than just about motor racing cars and has lots of other things to see and do. All in all, add a visit to Bathurst to your Australian adventures.

Have you been to Bathurst?

 

Mount Panorama Racing Track Pin.

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Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Sign shaped like a big white wave with Sharyn McCullum On the Great Ocean Road.

G’Day! Sharyn here, an Aussie loving discovering Australia. Let me show you around so you can discover Australia too.  Read my story here.

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