The Friendly City of Dubbo: Introduction
There is a wide range of things to do in Dubbo. This friendly city is based in New South Wales’ Orana Region. It is also a popular destination for visitors.
The original inhabitants of the area were the indigenous Wiradjuri Nation. There is evidence of their activity in the area dating back over 40,000 years.
European settlement in Dubbo dates to 1818. The area was explored and surveyed by famous colonial explorer John Oxley.
As a result, Dubbo was settled soon after by Robert Dulhunty and his brother Lawrence. Dulhunty enjoy the company of the indigenous community. Therefore, many landmarks and early buildings in the region carry names derived from aboriginal language.
The mighty Macquarie River runs through the City of Dubbo and is an important landmark for locals and visitors. Dubbo located 400 kilometres west of Sydney. Dubbo’s population is just under 40,000 also making it the largest centre in the Orana region.
Dubbo is warm in Summer and cool in Winter with its climate described as humid subtropical.
The local economy is heavily based on Agriculture and retail trade. Fletcher International Exports is Dubbos largest employer. This company exports lamb and mutton around the world.
In terms of retail, Dubbo is the major shopping destination for the surrounding area. As a result, there are a wide array of shopping centres, speciality stores and large franchise chains that operate in Dubbo.
Why Dubbo is so popular with tourists? Because there is so much to see and do. The challenge was to keep the list down to between 20 and 30 experiences.
Lets get the list started with food and wine.
Things to do in Dubbo: Food and Wine
Lazy River Estate
What a perfect way to start this list.
Lazy River Estate is located less than 5 minutes from town. It is also based on the banks of the Macquarie River. As a result, the views are spectacular.
They even brew their own craft beer label!
For those planning special events there is accommodation available on site. The 2 bedroom, self-contained, Boat House Villa is pure luxury and also available for advanced bookings.
In addition, Lazy River Estate is available for all types of private functions. These include weddings, corporate functions and social occasions.
They are open to the public from 9am to 5pm most days. Keep a close eye on their Facebook Page for details regarding opening hours.
Bell River Estate Winery
The short drive from Dubbo to get to Bell River Estate Winery is worth the effort. Only an hour away from the Dubbo CBD, the scenic setting is also perfect for guests who appreciate peace and quiet.
The winery has been in operation for 20 years. It is run by husband and wife team Sandra and Michael Banks. Michael grows the grapes; Sandra handles the winemaking.
They make an excellent team. As a result, the wines produced here are distractive, fruity and refreshing. In addition, those who appreciate fortified wines will love the Bell River Estate Port.
Red Earth Estate
A unique food and wine combination are offered here with a hint of the orient.
Red Earth Estate’s award-winning wines are complimented by their dumpling house. This offers traditional handmade Chinese Dumplings that are renowned across the region.
I was super impressed the with quality of wine here. A selection of Dry Whites, Dry Reds, Sparkling Wines and a nice Moscato. In addition, for those visiting in the cooler months, check out their Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and merlot. You won’t regret it.
Visitors can also enjoy wine tasting with cheese platters. The cellar door is open 7 days a week and the Red Earth Estate Facebook page is the place to go for more information.
Tombstone Estate Wines
A small yet productive winery just south of Dubbo, the cellar door here is worth visiting.
Set on 1.85 hectares Tombstone Estate Wines produces shiraz, sangiovese, muscat, cabernet sauvignon and barbera.
Families will enjoy the picnic and BBQ area.
Certainly, a location worth visiting.
Things to do in Dubbo: Arts, History and Culture
Western Plains Cultural Centre
This is undoubtedly the home of arts and culture in Dubbo. As a result, it brings together art and history at the one venue.
The imposing building was completed in 2007. Since then it has become the arts hub of the City. The Western Plains Cultural Centre also houses the former Dubbo Museum and Dubbo Regional Gallery.
The Dubbo Museum was formed by the Royal Historical Society in 1953. Their original site on Macquarie Street was damaged during a storm.
As a result, the Museum collection was transferred to Council ownership and placed in storage. It has since been placed on display in the Cultural Centre for visitors to enjoy.
Dubbo Regional Art Gallery
Dubbo Regional Gallery was established in 1989. The Gallery was originally housed in Darling street before a fire damaged the building.
As a result, makeshift arrangements weremade to keep the Gallery in operation. Originally the Gallery was moved to the former High School site. Some works were also displayed at the Library for a short time.
The two unrelated events led the Council to establish an institution to house both. As a result, the Western Plains Cultural Centre was developed and constructed. Visitors can now enjoy art and history under the one roof in a spacious modern building.
Old Dubbo Gaol
Visiting the Old Dubbo Gaol is chilling. I absolutely loved this experience……as a visitor.
The history of the Old Dubbo Gaol is colourful and spooky. In addition, the most unique thing about the Gaol is its location. Right in the heart of Dubbo.
The Old Dubbo Gaol is state heritage listed remarkably intact for a building of its age. It operated for 119 years from 1847 to 1966. As a result, the gaol bring the history of this brutal age back to life for guests.
The gaol still houses important collections such as the hangman’s kit and gallows. In addition, guests can tour the dark cells and the bird’s-eye view from the watchtower.
Guided tours, night tours, and theatrical experiences are also offered. The Old Dubbo Gaol is a unique attraction that needs to be seen firsthand.
First Lesson Cultural Tours
Visitors will learn about the indigenous Wiradjuri Culture on this tour of the Central West.
First Lesson Cultural Tours are conducted by senior Wiradjuri Elder Peter Peckham. The tour shows off the many amazing natural sites of the region. It also offers a unique experience in traditional Aboriginal Australia.
Tour guests will walk where Wiradjuri ancestors walked hundreds of years ago including. The tour also takes in important sites as the Scarred Canoe Tree, Axe Grinding site, Bush Medicine plants and Bush Tucker plants.
Day tours are the most popular however overnight tours can be arranged. More details on how to book a tour can be found here.
Things to do in Dubbo: Family Friendly
Taronga Western Plains Zoo
This is Dubbo’s best-known attraction. The Taronga Wildlife Conservation Society hosts this unique experience which is more than an average zoo.
The Taronga Western Plains Zoos is set on over 300 hectares of bushland. It also boasts over 500 animals. In addition, they offer a safari adventure which is suitable for all ages.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is also home to exotic animals including big cats, Giraffe, Rhinos and Meerkats.
Visitors can stroll across the grasslands or hire a bike or a cart. There are also accommodation options on site that include cabins, lodges and camp sites.
Royal Flying Doctor Service Visitor Experience
The RFDS is an Australian icon. As a result, this visitor experience is one to put on the list when visiting Dubbo. Guests delve into a world of heroic doctors, nurses, pilots and outback communities.
You will explore in augmented reality and watch a patient receive treatment in an RFDS aircraft cabin. In addition you will learn how RFDS medical teams deliver lifesaving help across the country.
Giant control screens outline current rescues. Therefore, you can watch the locations of the RFDS fleet in real time.
This is a fascinating experience for people of all ages. Every Australian needs to see for themselves how this organisation saves lives across our vast country. International visitors will be just as surprised and impressed.
Check out the RFDS website for more details on opening times and tickets.
The wonders of the night sky are on display for visitors at the Dubbo Observatory. The clear skies of Central New South Wales are the perfect place to view the Universe.
The Dubbo Observatory offers visitors the chance to view stars, planets and galaxies. You will also learn more about the night sky. There are several special tours available.
Night Sky & Telescope Viewing Tour
This is a basic astronomy presentation that points out stars, planets, constellations with a laser pointer. Running time is around 75 minutes
Astro Exclusive Tour
The tour goes into more depth on astronomy basics in groups of up to 6 people. In addition, each guest can take 4 photographs of the night sky through the lens of the Observatory’s powerful telescope.
Running time for this tour is around 90 to 120 minutes.
Other specialized tours are also available with more details available via the Dubbo Observatory’s website.
Dubbo Regional Botanic Gardens Adventure Playground
The Dubbo Regional Botanic Gardens were constructed in 1999. The Garden consists of four separate spaces. These include the Japanese Garden (Shoyoen), the sensory gardens, the biodiversity garden and oasis valley.
In March 2019 the Adventure Playground was opened at the site. As a result, the Gardens have become popular with families.
The Adventure Playground features around 40 separate elements including a flying fox, giant slide and a swing basket. It was also designed to be inclusive for children of all ages and abilities.
The area is open every day of the week. More details regarding the Dubbo Botanic Gardens and Adventure Playground can be found on their website.
Things to do in Dubbo: Party Time: Bars and Restaurants
Royal India Restobar
An authentic style Indian Restaurant. This is the perfect place to start a night out with friends.
At Royal India Restobar they pride themselves on customer service, attention to detail and their outstanding menu.
You will also get great value for money. In addition to the awesome food you won’t go thirsty.
The word unique gets thrown around a lot in travel websites. This really sums up the Royal India Restobar. It truly is a unique place to eat.
I really enjoyed the food and the great drinks menu. The menu has way more to offer than a good Indian curry and the cocktail menu is worth checking out.
Devil’s Elbow Brewery
Devil’s Elbow Brewery brings craft beer to Dubbo. This is truly a world class craft brewery. I know this is high praise, but visiting this place is one of my top 5 all time experiences in regional Australia.
The brewery is based on a simple business mantra. Get the 3 wows right.
Wow! to the atmosphere. Wow! to the product. Wow! with the service. They have succeeded.
The beer brewed here is superb. Eight beers are brewed on site including mild options, hoppy beers and my favourite, the black horn dark ale.
In addition Devils Elbow has a great menu which includes great burgers and oven fried pizzas.
Two Doors/The Red Barrel
Two Doors is based in one of Dubbo’s most historical buildings. The site was originally built in 1873 from Macquarie River sandstone. It was home to Dubbo’s first doctor, Walter Hugh Tibbits.
The modern set up of Two Doors defies and compliments this historical setting. The relaxed atmosphere and great food are a great way to enjoy a lazy afternoon.
Upstairs guests will find the Red Barrel. This wine bar a great view of the town. It also offers special tasting sessions.
The Red Barrel is the perfect place to enjoy a dinner date with friends or start an evening of bigger plans.
The Monkey Bar
This is the go-to place for a cocktail in Dubbo.
The Monkey Bar was named in the top 10 best venues in regional Australia by Beer and Brewer Magazine. As a result, it has become known as the beer and cocktail destination in Dubbo.
A constantly rotating tap beer selection gives you up to 12 options to choose from. In addition, the cocktail menu is spectacular.
The Monkey bar provides an atmosphere that is relaxing yet exciting. It’s a happy, fun and inviting place.
This is a seriously great venue and the best way to start a night out in Dubbo.
Things to do in Dubbo: Getting back to Nature
Goobang National Park
The views at Goobang National Park are awesome. As a result, it’s the perfect place to get back to nature. Activities here include bush walking, bush camping, picnic areas, mountain biking trails, and 4WD touring.
The Burrabadine walking track takes you to the top of Burrabadine Peak to the west of the Park.
A short walk from the carpark takes you to Caloma lookout. This is the perfect spot to get some holiday photos of the views across the Park.
There are two main campgrounds within the Park. Greenbah campground is a great base from which to enjoy bush walks, picnics, barbecues and birdwatching.
However, Dubbo visitors will prefer the Wanda Wandong campground. This is the larger campground and is closer to Dubbo.
The Parks website is the place to go for more information.
Terramungamine Reserve and Rock Grooves
It’s hard not to get caught up in the history of this place. Here recreation meets the preservation of Aboriginal cultural heritage. The site is a dedicated Aboriginal burial ground known as the Tubbagah.
The Reserve area was part of the traditional country of the Tubbagah People. In addition it was an important gathering area for local tribes.
The Rock Grooves were used by the Tubbagah for sharpening their tools and weapons. Around 150 groves can be seen on an outcrop along the bank of the Macquarie River.
The Redbank Reserve includes a beach area. Therefore, this is easily access for swimming, fishing and bush camping.
Details on the etiquette of the area can be found via Dubbo NSW website.
Shoyoen Japanese Garden
This traditional, Japanese garden is part of the Dubbo Regional Botanic Gardens. The name of the garden means “strolling and refreshing garden”.
The garden was received by the City council as a gift from Dubbo’s sister city Minokamo in Japan.
As a result, the gardens are complete with a pond, wooden bridges, colourful flowers, a tea hut and a traditional Japanese Cherry Blossom tree.
You will be relaxed by the running water of the garden and peaceful surrounds. A perfect spot to stop and grab some holiday photos.
Details on how to get to the garden can be found here.
A short 30-minute drive from Dubbo is the town of Wellington. This is home to these amazing cave structures.
The Cathedral Cave is the largest and therefore most popular of the show caves. Gaden cave is currently unable to be toured due to a build up of carbon dioxide inside the structure.
Guided tours must be booked to see the caves with ticket prices for adults less than $30.
There are also accommodation options available. I was impressed by the quality of the rooms here. There is plenty to see and do at the site for those who decide to stay.
More details on tours and accommodation at the Wellington Caves can be found via their website.
Things to do in Dubbo: Shop Till You Drop
Orana Mall is the biggest and best shopping centre in Dubbo.
As a result all of the big chain stores are here. These include Big W, Woolworths, Australia Post.
In addition, there are over 70 specialty stores. Those specialty stores include fashion, jewellery and food outlets.
If you need cash Orana Mall has 6 ATMS and a Commonwealth Bank branch.
There is also free undercover carparking. Orana Mall is open seven days a week.
The Orana Mall website has the details on all the stores and opening times.
Riverdale Shopping Centre
It might not be as big as Orana Mall, but the location makes up for that.
Riverdale Shopping Centre is located in Dubbos CBD. In addition it contains over 15 specialty stores.
The car parking facilities are perfect. The Centre also has the only 5-screen cinema in Dubbo.
The Riverdale Shopping Centre has a large range of retail options, restaurants and take-away shops.
If you are staying in Dubbo, you will be visiting this place at some stage.
You had better check out their website for shop listings and opening times.
Dubbo Square Shopping Centre
The Dubbo Square Shopping centre is the home of the Coles branded stores. This includes the Coles supermarket, Target and Liquorland.
This Shopping centre is also Dubbos second largest. It has a total of 35 sites offered to a range of businesses.
Specialty stores here include apparel, health and wellbeing outlets, a jeweller and food outlets.
Very popular with locals, this Centre has great parking options. In addition it is usually quieter than the others.
Check out their opening times via their website.
Dubbo Rotunda Market
The Dubbo Rotunda Market is run by the Not For Profit “Better Markets Inc.”.
The location of these the market is perfect. It is set up in the heart of Dubbo’s CBD.
The market provides a space for small businesses to promote their products to locals and visitors alike.
As a result, visitors will find a massive range of products available.
Artists and musicians are encouraged to perform here. The market also showcases local produce, fresh and ready to eat.
The best place to go for opening times for the Dubbo Rotunda Market is their Facebook Page.
Things to do in Dubbo: Conclusion
In concluson, Dubbo is a vibrant and modern city. Dubbo embraces its country heritage. Dubbo is also the gateway to Central NSW. It’s climate and natural beauty lends itself to visitors who enjoy getting outdoors.
Dubbo’s historical relevance to both Indigenous Australian’s and European settlers make it a mecca for historians and those who love Australian history.
I loved my stay in Dubbo and I am sure you will to. Have you been to Dubbo before? What was your experience like? Also, did I miss anything that you believe needs to be seen? Leave me a comment below for our readers to check out.
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