A GROUND-PENETRATING radar roamed Charlotte Street and the lower end of William Street on Friday.
Passing motorists wouldn't have known it, but the radar was looking for evidence of the city's colonial past, including the female factory that was in the precinct.
Dr Louise Steding - a forensic archaeologist and criminologist from Camden - was operating the radar and looking on were members of the Bathurst Family History Group.
"We are looking for footings and brick floors of some of the earliest buildings that were here, dating back to the government settlement that was in this precinct," the group's Dr Rob McLachlan said.
He said the group was hoping to find evidence of buildings including what was called the police office and the residence of the officer in charge of mounted police.
The "big prize", though, would be evidence of Bathurst's two-storey female factory, which housed convict women in the 1830s and 1840s and provided skilled labour - from dairying to needlework - for farmers.
The building was demolished after it stopped being used as a female factory.
Bathurst Family History Group president Dianne Barnes said early Bathurst had a "great shortage of women" and the female factory also became a sort of marriage bureau as well as a means of women bettering themselves.
She said a lot of those who passed through the female factory went on to be pioneers in the area.
"That's my interest: the women who came through the factory," she said.
Finding evidence of its location would allow the group to plot out other aspects of the early colonial settlement, she said.
The ground-penetrating radar's visit was made possible by a $2500 grant the group sought under Bathurst Regional Council's interpretation fund.
Group member Lee Steele - author of two volumes of 100 Heritage Homes of Bathurst and District - gave a "very generous donation" to the project, Ms Barnes said, and Dr McLachlan also helped.
"That allowed us to do it [bring the radar to Bathurst] much earlier than thought," Ms Barnes said.
Dr Steding, who teaches criminology and forensics for Swinburne University of Technology, has used her expertise in the past in investigating bush burial sites for missing persons.
She has also excavated renaissance,bronze age and neolithic human remains in Europe.
Ms Barnes said those who want more information about the ground-penetrating radar project can contact the Bathurst Family History Group.