Wellington is about 350km north-west of Sydney. Established in the 1820's as a penal colony, the present day population is a little over 5,000.
It has many historic buildings and beautiful parklands, including the scenic Cameron Park beside the Macquarie River. Beef, wool, prime lamb and cropping are the main industries.
Here are our top five reasons to visit Wellington:
1. The Caves
The Wellington Caves Holiday Complex is only eight kilometres from town. Probably the prettier of the two caves we visited was the Gaden Cave. The limestone formed in Devonian times, 400 million years ago. The cave has a wonderful display of stalactites and shawl formations, and pool crystals formed on the walls when the caves were under water.
There are 150 steps to enter the Cathedral Cave, so reasonable fitness is required. The huge cavern called 'The Cathedral' has an amazing formation shaped like an altar at one end, and is the venue for weddings. Further down is the Thunder Cave, which has perfect acoustics.
2. The Osawano Japanese Garden
While smaller than the large Japanese gardens at Cowra, the Wellington gardens have a peaceful and tranquil ambiance, and entry is free. They were built as a gift from Wellington's sister city in Japan: Osawano. There is a man-made mountain, with waterfalls flowing into a pond filled with huge poi carp. We loved sitting in the water pavilion overlooking the pond, it is a good place to view the fish and duck population and just relax.
3. The Phosphate Mine Tour
Phosphate is formed from bat guano, in this case, a species of Ghost Bat thought to have been extinct for 200 million years. The mine operated from 1914 to 1918. Despite the huge amount of back breaking work to build the mine, there were insufficient reserves of phosphate to be profitable, and investors lost all their money. On the tour, you can see parts of the original railway lines, various tools, and the timber supports that were erected.
The first mega-fauna fossils ever found in Australia were found in the mine's cave system. The Diprotodon was the largest marsupial ever known, weighing about three tones. Their bones are thought to have been washed into the cave as no intact skeleton has been found. There are many fossils to view on the tour, as well as a cast of fossils found in the caves of a Thylacoleo, the marsupial lion.
In the same complex, do the fossil walk. The marine fossils are from the Devonian era (300-400 million years ago) when the area was under the sea. Grab a brochure from the kiosk to identify each one.
Wellington has many beautiful parks and gardens and the whole Wellington valley is very scenic, nestled between the Bell and Macquarie Rivers. Walk across the swing bridge over the Bell River and through Cameron Park. It is considered one of the best public gardens in NSW, with its sunken garden and beautiful roses. An old children's swimming pool has been turned into a lily pond.
Those interested in plants and gardens should also visit the botanical gardens and arboretum.
5. Visit Lake Burrendong
Drive the 30km to Lake Burrendong for wonderful scenery and plenty of activities including hiking, fishing, golf, sailing and canoeing. The dam was built in 1967, and now holds as much water as Sydney Harbour. Fishing is profitable, with redfin being a common catch, but there are also yellowbelly, catfish and yabbies to be had.
There are excellent day facilities and a kiosk, and accommodation is available if you would like to stay longer than a day.