Everything You Wanted To Know About Visiting Dubbo

Planning on Visiting Dubbo in New South Wales? Then we’ve got you covered.

Our guide to everything you wanted to know about visiting Dubbo will provide you with all the information you need to make your trip there as enjoyable as possible.

In it, we’ll reveal, some of the best things to see and do in Dubbo, as well as where to stay and where to eat. We’ll also tell you how to get there and the best time to visit this stunning part of the Premier State.

So, if that has piqued your interest, let’s get into it.

About Dubbo

Dubbo is a vibrant regional city that resides on the banks of the Macquarie River within the stunning Macquarie Valley in New South Wales. It is approximately 390 km northwest of Sydney and 593 km west of Port Macquarie.

The area around which the city now sits was first visited by the explorer John Oxley in 1818. Six years later the first settlers arrived, but it wasn’t until 1841 that Dubbo was officially founded. It was established as a village in 1869 and became a municipality three years later due to its rapid growth. It was awarded city status in 1966.

The traditional owners of the land on which Dubbo now sits are the Tubbagah People who are a part of the Wiradjuri Nation.

How to get to Dubbo

For those wanting to explore the beauty of regional New South Wales, Dubbo is an easy destination to get to via road, rail and air.

Probably the most fun way to get there is to drive as the city has links to the Golden, Mitchell and Newell highways in the Great Western Plains. It doesn’t matter which way you come from, the scenery is magnificent.

Here are the driving times from various destinations in New South Wales:

– Sydney (5 hours)

– Port Macquarie (6 hours 30 minutes)

– Bourke (4 hours)

– Griffiths (4 hours 40 minutes)

– Cobar (3 hours 15 minutes)

– Coffs Harbour (7 hours 20 minutes)

– Wagga Wagga (4 hours 30 minutes)

– Broken Hill (8 Hours)

– Newcastle (4 hours 30 minutes)

If you would rather not drive you could take the train directly from Sydney’s Central Station to Dubbo via NSW TrainLink, which runs daily services. The journey takes approximately 6.5 hours and will bring you to the city’s heritage-listed station that dates back to 1881.

Alternatively, you can take a flight to Dubbo’s regional airport from destinations like Newcastle, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney. Both Qantas and Virgin run regular flights there.

Best Time To Visit Dubbo

The great thing about visiting Dubbo is that the weather is pleasant all year round. Therefore, you can go there whenever you want.

Generally speaking, the late winter and early spring is where the city shines the most as the temperature is very pleasant and not too stifling warm. This makes for ideal conditions for walking around its streets and exploring the general area.

In the summer months and the school holidays, the city does receive plenty of tourists, so you might find the best time for visiting Dubbo is the months of October to November and March to April when children are at school.

Things To Do in Dubbo

For tourists and visitors, there are plenty of things to see and do in Dubbo. Here is a selection of some of the best sites, attractions and landmarks in the city.

1. Old Dubbo Gaol

Old Dubbo Gaol is a well-preserved 19th-century prison whose history is inextricably linked with the city.

It offers a range of guided tours and interactive exhibits that give you an understanding of what life and conditions were like for those who were incarcerated here.

You’ll be able to see the collection of original sandstone buildings which make up the gaol complex, as well as experience for yourself the eerieness of the solitary confinement cells. Families can also enjoy the ‘Escape the Gaol’ experience, where they must solve puzzles and look for clues to break free from the prison walls.

For those who don’t unnerve easily, its well worth taking part in a night tour. At this time, you will be led around the gaol by lantern light – as was the case back in the day -, as you listen to tales of ghostly encounters and unexplained occurrences. It’s spine-chilling stuff!

2. Shoyoen Japanese Garden

One of the most beautiful places to visit in Dubbo is the Shoyoen Japanese Garden. Gifted by its Japanese sister city, Minokamo, it is celebrated for being one of the most beautiful and authentic Japanese Gardens in Australia.

The name ‘Shoyoen’ translates to ‘strolling and refreshing garden’, which is a very apt summation. It boasts a highly stylised and abstract miniature landscape that is full of cultural symbolism and religious references.

Some of its most eye-catching elements include a series of lakes, streams and waterfalls that symbolise all stages of the human existence, i.e. birth, growth and death. Additionally, the Japanese Koi (aka living flowers) and the magnificent ‘Chaoya’ tea hut are very impressive.

Plan to stay a good few hours here to really take in the beauty and serenity of the gardens.

3. Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Perhaps the most famous attraction in the city is the Taronga Western Plains Zoo. More commonly referred to as ‘Dubbo Zoo’, it first opened its doors in 1977. Currently, it accommodates overy 4000 animals from around the world across 40 species and 45 exhibits.

What is great about the zoo is that its design allows visitors to get up close and personal with the animals. You can do this by renting an electric cart, hopping on a bike or strolling around the 6 km circuit. Some of the many animals you will see include rhinoceroses, giraffes and elephants – which, if you have not seen them before in person, will blow your mind as to their size and stature.

The zoo also offers a range of immersive experiences including the popular behind-the-scenes tour, where you can feed the animals and learn about the zoo’s conservation efforts. Additionally, you can choose to stay overnight at the zoo in one of its lodges or cabins for the opportunity to enjoy incredible views of the surrounding savannah and the chance to wake up to sounds of the wild.

4. Royal Flying Doctor Service Visitor Experience

The Royal Flying Doctor Service has provided a vital lifeline for Australia’s outback and more remote communities for over 90 years. You can find out all about their work at their fantastic Visitor Experience centre.

This fascinating interactive exhibit showcases the history, operations, and lifesaving work of this essential medical service, through a collection of multimedia presentations, displays, and hands-on activities. It provides a great way to learn about some of the major challenges the RFDS face and the essential role they play in Australia’s healthcare system.

During your visit you can go on a guided tour of their working hangar, where you will see the aircraft and medical equipment the team use. You will also get to hear inspiring stories of courage and resilience from real-life doctors, pilots and nurses who have dedicated their lives to helping those in need.

Additionally, take the opportunity to enjoy a bite to eat or a coffee at the wonderful Outback Trek Café, which is based onsite.

5. Western Plains Cultural Centre

Dubbo has a vibrant art scene which you can check out for yourself at the Western Plains Cultural Centre. Located on Wingewarra Street, this contemporary facility houses an art gallery, museum and community space, which hosts a wide range of exhibits that reflect the region’s artistic talent, culture and heritage.

At the art gallery, you’ll find a selection of exhibits from national and local artists, many of which have a distinctive indigenous flavour. They range from traditional paintings with deep spiritual meanings to installations that reflect modern trends in artistic expression.

The centre offers a dynamic and engaging experience for art lovers of all ages. It also hosts a range of talks, workshops and events which promote Dubbo’s unique cultural landscape.

6. Dubbo Observatory

Something you’ll quickly notice about Dubbo is how good the night sky is for stargazing due to its minimal light pollution and dark skies. If this is something you would like to take more advantage of then you should pay a visit to the Dubbo Observatory.

Situated on Camp Street, this popular attraction provides visitors with a range of stargazing sessions and guided tours that help you gain a further understanding of the cosmos.

During your tour, you can learn more about the planets, constellations and celestial phenomena from astronomers who have a detailed knowledge of it. You will also be able to look through powerful telescopes to see the stars with crystal clarity and even take a workshop about astrophotography, which can help you improve your skills at capturing the cosmos through your camera lens.

Where To Stay in Dubbo

As it is a regional city, most visitors to Dubbo will need a place to stay during their time in the city. Thankfully, there are several accommodation options, including hotels, motels and Airbnb-type accommodations that cater to all budgets and tastes. They include the following:

ibis Budget

For those who want to stay close to the Dubbo Regional airport, the ibis Budget is a very good option as it is located just a 6-minute drive away from it. The three-star hotel is also just 2km from Dubbo Train station, so that can also easily be reached via a short taxi ride.

Additionally, the property makes a good base for visiting the Western Taronga Zoo or the Dubbo Gold Course. Both of which can be reached within a 10-minute drive.

The hotel offers guest rooms with private bathrooms, free on-site parking, the use of an outdoor swimming pool and laundry facilities.

The Westbury

Situated within a beautiful heritage building in Central Dubbo, The Westbury is a stunning place to base yourself at during your stay in the region.

Located on Brisbane Street, just 250 metres from a pub that serves terrific food, the four star hotel provides comfortable rooms with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV, private bathrooms and balconies with garden views.

They also do an exceptional breakfast here which is the perfect way to set yourself up for a day of sightseeing.

Quality Inn

For those wanting to be near the Western Taronga Zoo, the Quality Inn places you just 800 metres from the blockbuster attraction.

It is located next to the Royal Dubbo Golf Course and offers a mix of self-contained apartments and private rooms with a good selection of modern amenities.

Top Places To Eat in Dubbo

Dubbo has an exceptional food scene which champions the best of the region’s local produce. You will have the choice of several cafes and restaurants during your time in the city. However, there are a couple of places that stand out for the quality of their food offerings.

A venue you simply have to visit is the Church Street Café, which you will find on the corner of Macquarie Street and Church Street. In 2017, it won the Reader’s Choice Award for the Australian Good Food and Travel Guide, and the food, presentation and vibe are still as good today.

Brunch is the go here, with the chunky corn and crispy bacon fritters being particularly popular. Their Oriental port belly baos are also legendary in the city.

Another place you have to try is Two Doors which is currently ranked #1 on TripAdvisor. It offers 20 different types of tapas, as well as delicious paella and very moorish risotto balls.

If you fancy some artisanal breads, pies, pastries and cakes the Farmer’s Bakehouse is a great place to visit. While those who want to whet their whistle should head to The Monkey Bar, which Beer and Brewer Magazine named as one of Australia’s 10 best venues.