The landscape has changed dramatically, from flat red dirt and low scrubby vegetation, to green rolling hills with trees crowding the roads.
The dams contain water and the paddocks are dotted with bails of hay.
Our first stop, Manildra, is a small town located on the railway line halfway between Orange and Parkes, with a population of about 460 people.
It’s home to the Manildra Flour Mill, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Amusu Theatre (pronounced ‘amuse you’) is the oldest continually operating cinema in Australia.
It dates back to 1923, when local businessman Allan Tom started a travelling picture show using a carbon arc projector carted on the back of a flatbed truck.
He screened silent films to crowded halls and tents around the central-west.
Later Tom used a record player, adapted the projector for talkies and in 1936 established a permanent theatre next door to the family car repair garage — now a movie poster museum.
The town’s other claim to fame are the faces painted on railway rolling stock.
Back in 2016 world-renowned street artist Guido van Helten immortalised seven townspeople by painting their faces on the side of rail cars (we could find only one).
About 50km down the road and 250km west of Sydney, Orange is a large regional city of 40,000 residents and one that I have a connection with.
Years ago I had to drive there once a week to supervise production of a local newspaper of which I became the editor.
Two hours there, two hours back and I didn’t have to pay for fuel — whoopee!
They were so stingy the compositors drew the keylines on pics rather than using tape, often leading to blobs where the lines met at the corners.
Orange is a leafy city and one gets more snow than any other city in the country (not difficult).
It’s the birthplace of poets Banjo Patterson and Kenneth Slessor, and it was here the first Australian Touring Car Championship was held at the Gnoo Blas Motor Racing Circuit in 1960.
At 860 metres it also produces some fabulous ‘cool climate’ wines.
Duntryleague Mansion was built in 1876 by James Dalton and purchased by the Orange Golf Club in 1935.
A hop, skip and a jump down the road, Lucknow is more of a locality than a town.
Gold was discovered here in 1851 and remnants of the mines still litter the landscape.
During the 1880s a series of dams were built to store water for the mines, with bluestone walls that can still be seen.
The Boat Dam was used by locals for swimming, rowing and sailing regattas.
A further 60km down the road we find Bathurst which needs no introduction.
It’s a large regional city with a long past, home to the Bathurst 1000 motor race and my sister-in-law and her family.
It gets bloody cold in Bathurst. I’ve travelled all over the world, but I’ve never been colder than the birthday weekend I spent in nearby Rockley.
It was so cold it hurt.
With wide tree-lined streets, the city has many elegant buildings and is home to several museums including the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum, that houses the Somerville Collection of fossils and minerals.