A staple of Australian motor racing since the 1930s, Mount Panorama hosts two of Australia’s biggest annual racing events: the Bathurst 1000 and the Bathurst 12 Hour.
Located in the hilly surroundings of Bathurst, New South Wales, Mount Panorama started life as a dirt track in the mid 1930s. By 1938, Mayor Martin Griffin had opened the roads as a scenic drive and the first races took place on the track a few months later. Aside from the war years, Bathurst has been open for racing ever since. Mount Panorama is a highly demanding track, and is unique in that it features 174 metres of elevation change. Meanwhile, the kink in the track near The Chase is the fastest corner in touring car racing,
The Bathurst 1000 cemented Mount Panorama’s place in Australian motor racing folklore, with the event having taken place at the track in every year since 1963. Always held as a touring car race, the race is now run as a round of the Supercars championship each October. Peter Brock holds the record for most wins at the event, winning nine times between 1972 and 1987. The winner of the race is now handed the Peter Brock Trophy, named in his honour.
Endurance races have become popular at the track in recent years, with the revival of the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2007 being one of the circuit’s most attended races of the year. It is held in early February, and forms part of a trio of races which mark the start of the domestic Australian racing season, the others being the Adelaide 500 and the Australian Grand Prix. In addition, the Bathurst 6 Hour has been held as part of the annual Bathurst Motor Festival since 2016. The circuit also hosted a 24 hour endurance race – the Bathurst 24 Hour – in 2002 and 2003.
In the past, open wheel cars and motorcycles have raced at the track, but modern safety standards mean that the circuit is unlikely to attract major racing series. The track hosted the Australian Grand Prix four times before it was a round of the Formula 1 World Championship, including in 1938 when it became the first major race to be held at the circuit. As Mount Panorama is made up of public roads, you can drive around the circuit on non-race days – though a strict 60km/h speed limit is in place! Also next to the circuit is Australia’s National Motor Racing Museum.
Upcoming Events at Mount Panorama in 2020
Mount Panorama is located next to the town of Bathurst, around 200km west of Sydney.
The small regional airport in Bathurst has daily flights with REX from Sydney, which take around 40 minutes using small commuter planes.
Given the circuit’s relative isolation, the best way to get to Mount Panorama is by car:
- From Sydney: take the Great Western Highway via the Blue Mountains. Approximate travel time is 2.5-3 hours, though traffic can make this journey longer on major race weekends
- From Canberra: Mount Panorama is approximately 250km north of the nation’s capital via Trunkey Road. Estimated travel time is 3-3.5 hours.
Public transport options also exist for getting from Sydney to Mount Panorama:
- Trains: Countrylink offers daily trains from Sydney to Bathurst with a travel time of approximately 3.5 hours.
- Buses: Australia Wide Coaches offers a daily bus service between Sydney and Orange, stopping at Bathurst
The best way to experience a major motorsport event at Mount Panorama is to camp next to the track.
- Trackside Camping: nine campsites are available for the largest event of the year, the Bathurst 1000. The McPhillamy Campground on the top of the mountain is recommended for atmosphere and proximity to the best sections of the track. Pitches cost from $260 for the whole weekend; powered sites and sites reserved for motorhomes are also available. More info here.
- Local Accommodation: you can’t get any closer to the track than the Rydges Mount Panorama Bathurst Hotel, which is located on the Conrod Straight – however, it’s very expensive ($1500 AUD+ per night, including a Paddock Pass) and hard to get rooms for major events like the Bathurst 1000. The nearby town of Bathurst also has a limited number of motels, hotels and homestays; early bookings are essential for large event weekends. Browse all accommodation in Bathurst.
Learn about the history of motorsport in Australia at the National Motor Racing Museum
Located on the outside of the final turn at Mount Panorama, close to the pits complex, the museum traces the 100+ year history of motor racing in Australia, with a particular focus on racing at Mount Panorama. The museum has over 100 cars and motorcycles on display, and it’s also a good place to pick up some Mount Panorama-themed merchandise. The museum is open throughout the year, though entry is restricted to ticket holders during major events. Entrance costs $15 AUD for adults, $10 concession and $7 for school-age children.
Visit the National Motor Racing Museum website.
Image courtesy Wikipedia