Dubbo is the perfect destination for families, with a fun mix of outdoor adventures, interactive history and plenty of animals. Find out how to spend three days in this busy regional centre.
DAY ONE: ANIMAL ENCOUNTERS
DAY ONE KEY FACTS:
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is located at:
- Obley Rd, Dubbo, NSW
- A five-hour (400km) drive from Sydney
Set off early this morning from Sydney for the drive across the Blue Mountains and into the Central West. Break the journey in Orange, where you can grab something tasty from Eat Botanic cafe inside the Orange Botanic Garden and the kids can burn some energy on the fun Adventure Playground.
Arrive in Dubbo this afternoon and head straight for Taronga Western Plains Zoo. One of the largest zoos in Australia, it covers more than 740 acres with over 5,000 animals living in open environments with only moats (not fences) separating them from visitors. Hire bikes from the Visitor Centre at the entrance and set off to cycle the 5km loop through the zoo. The Waterhole Cafe is at the halfway point and also has a waterplay area for everyone to cool down.
You won’t have to go far to your accommodation tonight. Billabong Camp is inside the zoo, close to the Lion Pride Lands – you might even hear the lions roaring at night! The spacious, heavy-duty canvas tents are already set up on the edge of the billabong and are equipped with bedding, pillows and linen. Once the zoo has closed, you’ll get to enjoy a private viewing of the lions, followed by a barbecue dinner and then another guided tour of the native animal area. Have a late supper under the stars, then slip into your sleeping bags for a night in the wild.
DAY TWO: HISTORY & LEGENDS
DAY TWO KEY FACTS:
Old Dubbo Gaol is located at:
- 90 Macquarie St, Dubbo, NSW
- A 10-minute (5km) drive from Taronga Western Plains Zoo
There are no sleep ins in the jungle! You’ll be woken early by the sounds of nature flooding into your tent. Grab an early breakfast then set out on your exclusive morning tour, checking in on some of the exotic animals as they start their day. Your stay includes entry to the zoo again today, so you can make another loop to see any of the animals you missed.
Your next stop takes you into the centre of town and 150 years into the past. Old Dubbo Gaol is an imposing 19th-century prison where history is brought to life. Wander through the sandstone corridors, go behind bars in the tiny cells and get a shiver from the hangman’s kit inside the gallows gallery. There are lots of interactive elements, photographs, real-life stories and costumed actors portraying prison life as it was in the past.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service has been providing urgent medical care to patients across almost eight million square kilometres of outback for a century. These brave doctors, nurses and pilots have become part of Australian legend, along with the incredible remote communities they serve. Learn more about them at the Royal Flying Doctor Service Experience – you can see real aircraft, see where the teams are in real-time on the live operations screen, hear stories from the front line and use augmented reality to experience a day in the life of these travelling medics.
While there aren’t any lions or giraffes at your accommodation tonight, there is a swimming pool, waterpark, jumping pillow and playground to keep the kids entertained. At Discovery Parks Dubbo, you can choose from basic campsites to comfortable cabins and even stylish safari-style tents. Cook dinner on the barbecues provided or head for the Dubbo RSL Club – the Sunset Bistro serves pub classics, pizza, pasta and gelato, and there’s even a supervised kids area so you can enjoy a relaxed meal.
After the sun goes down, there’s time for one more adventure. Dubbo Observatory runs guided tours most nights, starting around 90 minutes after sunset. Listen to a fascinating presentation before looking through some of their huge telescopes that can see far into distant galaxies. (Note that the tours are only available for children over the age of five.)
DAY THREE: OUTDOOR ADVENTURES
DAY THREE KEY FACTS:
Lake Burrendong is located at:
- Burrendong Way, Wellington, NSW
- A 90-minute (90km) drive from Discovery Parks Dubbo
It’s time to explore the great outdoors. Lake Burrendong is one of the largest inland dams in Australia, more than three times the size of Sydney Harbour. Locals just call it ‘the dam’ and many head there every weekend of waterskiing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and fishing. Bring your own gear or hire some from Adventure Hire in town before you set out.
You can also go kayaking or throw a line in along the Macquarie River that runs through the centre of Dubbo. There are beaches for swimming, but it’s only recommended for strong swimmers. There are also cycling trails running along the length of the river. If there weather is bad, there are some fun indoor activities on offer as well – try Dubbo Tenpin Bowl or Inflatable World.
After an active morning, a lazy picnic in the pretty Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden is a nice way to spend the afternoon. There are four themed gardens to wander through, tranquil ponds and thousands of plants. If the kids have any excess energy, there’s an adventure playground just next door.
As the sun sets, visit Red Earth Estate, the only commercial winery in Dubbo. Surrounded by lush green lawns, you can taste the latest vintages and dine on authentic Chinese dumplings from the restaurant.