A bustling regional centre on the banks of the Macquarie River, Dubbo is the perfect place for a family break or an active holiday. Read on to discover 10 of our favourite things to do in the Great Western Plains.
Talk to the animals
Come face to face with more than 5,000 animals from 350 species at the excellent Taronga Western Plains Zoo. Drive or cycle around the 5km circuit to be immersed in the animals’ natural environments – there are no fences separating you from the elephants, giraffes, zebras and more. Hop on a safari truck to ride through Lion Pride Lands or ride a pedal boat around the Primate Islands.
Spend the night in the wild
If one day at the zoo isn’t enough, book into one of the three unique accommodation options inside Taronga Western Plains Zoo and sleep among the animals. Choose from the tents at Billabong Camp, the self-contained Savannah Cabins or the stylish tented suites at Zoofari Lodge. Each stay includes zoo entry, exclusive after hours tours, dinner and breakfast.
Get locked up
Experience a taste of life behind bars at the fascinating Old Dubbo Gaol. Dating back to 1847, the jail housed the region’s hardest criminals for more than a century. Interactive performances and guides in period costume help bring its colourful history to life and you can even take a turn in the stocks or see the hangman’s kit in the gallows gallery. Feeling brave? Come back at night for a spooky after dark tour by torchlight.
Get out on the water
Known to locals simple as ‘The Dam’, Lake Burrendong is a watersports playground around 90 minutes from Dubbo. At three times the size of Sydney Harbour it’s one of the largest inland dams in Australia and is a popular spot for fishing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, waterskiing and wakeboarding. Pick up some gear at Adventure Hire in town.
Meet an Australian icon
The Royal Flying Doctor Service has been providing vital medical assistance to remote communities since 1927. At the Royal Flying Doctor Visitor Experience you can experience a day in the life of one of these lifesaving doctors, nurses and pilots. There are interactive displays, augmented reality tours, aircraft, photographs, reali life stories and much more.
Hiking & biking at Mount Arthur
Rising 563m above sea level, Mount Arthur is one of the most prominent peaks in the Dubbo region. Sitting around 40 minutes from town, just outside of Wellington, the mountain is threaded with hiking paths and mountain bike trails. In spring, the hillsides burst into vibrant colour as fields of wildflowers bloom.
Take a walk in the garden
Stroll through the tranquil Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden and admire the four distinctive themed spaces. There’s an authentic ‘shoyoen’ (Japanese strolling garden), a sensory garden, biodiversity garden planted with native species and a dry rainforest valley. Kids will love the koi in the ponds and the fun Adventure Playground next door.
Look to the stars
Peer deep into the galaxies through the vast telescopes at the Dubbo Observatory. Tours run most nights, starting with an informative presentation under the stars before you get the chance to look through multiple telescopes. You can even take a digital photo of a nebula or the moon. Tours start around 90 minutes after sunset and are not suitable for children under five.
Soak up some culture
Learn more about the history of Dubbo and the contemporary art scene at the impressive Western Plains Cultural Centre. The permanent exhibition displays photographs, books, official records and many interesting objects that tell the story of the town. The regular program of touring exhibitions includes Indigenous art, pieces from major Australian museums and galleries, and international artists.
Go beneath the surface
For a journey deep into the past, the world-famous Wellington Caves are southeast of Dubbo. There are guided tours of the limestone caves, where megafauna fossils from the Pleistocene epoch were uncovered in 1830 – the discovery fascinated Charles Darwin and influenced his evolutionary ideas.