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New South Wales
Sir Henry Parkes statue in Parkes NSW.jpg
A statue of Sir Henry Parkes, the town's namesake
Parkes is located in New South Wales
Location in New South Wales
Population 11,224 (2018)
Established 1873
Postcode(s) 2870
Elevation 324 m (1,063 ft)
LGA(s) Parkes Shire
County Ashburnham
State electorate(s) Orange
Federal Division(s) Riverina
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
23.4 °C
74 °F
10.9 °C
52 °F
587.5 mm
23.1 in
The 64m radio telescope of the Parkes Observatory in Parkes, New South Wales, Australia is an important Southern Hemisphere radio telescope.

Parkes is a town in the Central West region of New South Wales, Australia. It is the main settlement in the local government area of Parkes Shire. Parkes had a population of 11,224 as at 30 June 2018.

Parkes is part of the traditional lands of the Wiradjuri people, the largest language group in NSW with a country of more than 120,000 square kilometres.


Parkes was founded in 1853 as the settlement Currajong, named for the abundance of kurrajong trees in the local area by the settlers, but was then known as Bushman's (from the local mine named Bushman's Lead).

In August 1873, Henry Parkes (later Sir Henry) visited the area and in December 1873 the town was officially renamed Parkes in his honour . (Sir Henry Parkes is recognised in Australia as having played an instrumental role in Australia becoming a unified and federated country.) In March 1885, Parkes was proclaimed a town.

Bushman's Lead Post Office opened on 1 August 1872 and was renamed Parkes in 1873. The railway from Molong via Parkes to Forbes, was officially opened on 18 December 1893.

Parkes attracted significant attention during the gold rush of the 1870s onwards, and even to this day modern mining companies still have sites in the region.

In 1939, Parkes became a sister city with Coventry in the United Kingdom. This was in honour of the fact Sir Henry Parkes was born in Coventry.

Parkes today With the presence of the nearby Parkes Observatory, Parkes has had an important role in the scientific community. In addition to local research conducted at the radio telescope, Parkes scientists have assisted NASA for several missions as a Southern Hemisphere relay and communications station. (The movie The Dish was based somewhat loosely on the role the telescope played during the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing.)

A rich variety of farming is conducted in the region immediately surrounding Parkes, although the staple farming products are wheat and wool.

Parkes prides itself on its modernising ideology, historically and culturally. The Dish, although set in Parkes, was largely filmed in Forbes' historic precinct. This is due to very few historic buildings remaining in Parkes. Parkes is also home to the Parkes Spacemen rugby league club.

The area is supported by a gold and copper mine, Northparkes, 27 km north-north-west of the town.

Parkes became a key country location after the completion of the railway in 1893, serving as a hub for a great deal of passenger and freight transport until the 1980s. Unfortunately, as successive governments reduced the NSW country rail systems, this part of the economy was largely lost to the community.

Periodically governments and businesses have raised the topic of an "inland port" whereby Parkes Regional Airport would be expanded considerably to serve as a starting point for domestic and international freight destined for areas in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. Environmental studies are complete, development consents are in place, contracts have been exchanged, some properties have changed hands and studies are continuing.

Parkes Shire Council, with approval from the State Government, has rezoned 516 hectares of agricultural and industrial land on the western edge of the town for the development of the Parkes National Logistics Hub with an additional reserve of over 100 hectares. The site has been specifically designed for the 24-hour, 7-day-per-week operation of a multi-modal transport facility.

FCL runs a significant intermodal operation at Goobang Junction on Parkes' western outskirts. On 20 October 2006, Premier Morris Iemma opened Specialised Container Transport's intermodal terminal nearby on a 296 hectare site. It has 5 km of rail sidings, a 7,400 square metre warehouse and about 40 staff. An even larger terminal to be sited nearby is also being promoted.

The Roads & Maritime Services' Western Regional Office is located in Parkes. Essential Energy also is represented by a training and maintenance centre.

Main tourist attractions are the CSIRO Telescope 20 km north of town on the Newell Highway, Bushmans Hill, and the War Memorial Lookout. Nearby there is the Goobang National Park, and Peak Hill which features an Open Cut Mine that can be toured during holidays. There are also many great parks.

Parkes has a high percentage population of school age students and an associated number of schools. Parkes Public School was founded in 1876 under Archibald Booth as educator, Parkes East Public School and Middleton Public School are also in the area. Holy Family Catholic School and Parkes Christian School operate in the town, with Saint Patrick's School Trundle and St Joseph's School, Peak Hill also operating the shire.

Parkes High School is the main public high school for the town. Parkes Christian School offers education for students from Kindergarten to Year 10 in 2013, extending to Year 11 in 2014 and Year 12 in 2015. Many Parkes students also attend the nearby Red Bend Catholic College in Forbes.


Parkes is located on the Australian transcontinental railway line, and the Newell Highway linking Victoria to Queensland.


Parkes has a warm temperate climate, with significant temperature variations between summer and winter. Under the Köppen climate classification, Parkes lies in the transitional zone between humid subtropical (Cfa) and semi-arid (Bsk) climates. Summer maximum temperatures average out at 32 °C (90 °F), however frequently reach 35 °C (95 °F), and there are usually a few days that top 40 °C (104 °F) each year.. Parkes is considerably sunny, having around 135.0 clear days annually.

Climate data for Parkes (Macarthur Street)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 45.2
Average high °C (°F) 32.3
Average low °C (°F) 17.9
Record low °C (°F) 6.8
Average rainfall mm (inches) 57.6
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2mm) 5.8 5.4 5.4 5.3 7.2 9.3 10.2 9.3 7.7 7.7 6.4 6.2 85.9
Average relative humidity (%) 34 37 39 43 53 60 60 54 48 42 36 32 45
Source: Bureau of Meteorology


Parkes has a local bus service provided by Western Road Liners, which acquired Harris Bus Lines in March 2006. The weekly Indian Pacific passes through but does not stop at Parkes. The Outback Xplorer service, run by NSW TrainLink, which heads to Broken Hill on Mondays and Sydney on Tuesdays does stop. Parkes railway station is situated on the Broken Hill railway line, and opened in 1893. A smaller station served Parkes Racecourse between 1923 and 1937. Parkes Regional Airport is served regular air services to Sydney operated by Regional Express Airlines. The airport is located approximately five kilometres east of the central business district.


Parkes hosts the annual Parkes Elvis Festival. It is held in early January to celebrate Presley's birthday and to boost tourism.

Military History

During World War 2, Parkes was the location of RAAF No.18 Inland Aircraft Fuel Depot (IAFD), completed in 1942 and closed on 14 August 1944. Usually consisting of 4 tanks, 31 fuel depots were built across Australia for the storage and supply of aircraft fuel for the RAAF and the US Army Air Forces at a total cost of £900,000 ($1,800,000).


Notable people

  • Billy Burns, rugby league player
  • Dianna Corcoran, country music singer
  • Stephen Davies, field hockey player, 1996 Olympian
  • Ian Evans, historian and writer
  • David Field, actor
  • Trixie Gardner, Baroness Gardner of Parkes - the first Australian woman to have been elevated to the peerage (1981)
  • Bryson Goodwin, Australian rugby league footballer
  • Mike Leary, rugby league player
  • Greg McGirr, NSW Labor politician and father of Trixie Gardner
  • Jim McGirr, NSW Labor politician, 28th Premier of New South Wales
  • Patrick McGirr, NSW Labor politician
  • Darby Medlyn, Australian rugby league footballer
  • David Nash, linguist
  • Will H. Ogilvie (1869–1963), Scottish-Australian horseman and bush poet and balladist
  • James Pritchard, International Rugby player, Rugby World Cup Representative
  • Gordon Watson, pianist
  • Scott Westcott, marathon runner, 2016 Olympian
  • Mariah Williams, field hockey player, 2016 & 2020 Olympian
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