48 Hours in Dubbo
What not to miss on a weekend in Dubbo.
Dubbo is truly a family holiday destination, we thought we would highlight some of the attractions and the foodie hot spots which we love! FYI: This blog is written from the perspective of parents with children aged 3 and 5.
What to Do
On a Saturday morning in Dubbo, there are a couple of events that we try to support.
First, if you are a runner, head to Park Run at Sandy Beach (which is neither sandy nor a beach) for an 8am start. This is such a wonderful and supportive community event to be part of for runners, walkers, pram pushers and dogs!
Second, on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month, we don’t miss the Dubbo Farmers Markets, held in Macquarie Lions Park, behind the Dubbo Information Centre. Some of our favourite growers and producers include Ploughman’s Hill Olives, Farmer’s Bakehouse, Bell River Wines, Neurea Vegetables, Pinerock Garlic, Second Mouse Cheese (Orange) and Milnes of Mudgee (their caramelised white balsamic is to die for!!!).
Taronga Western Plains Zoo
There is no way you can drive all the way out to Dubbo and not spend at least one entire day exploring Taronga Western Plains Zoo. As locals, we head out there at least once a fortnight and spent most weekends this past Summer at the new Waterhole park and café (halfway around – bring swimmers and towels in the warmer months!).
The zoo circuit is 5.5 km and you can walk, drive your own car, cycle your own bike or hire a bike or electric cart to get around. Online you can find the schedule of Keeper talks and feeds and animal encounters. Family favourites of ours include the giraffe feed at around 10 am the Lions and the Galapagos tortoises. We suggest that you purchase your zoo ticket here. In school holidays, the Zoo opens half an hour early, from 8:30 am.
Be prepared that current Covid restrictions require pre-registration of your visit online and a QR code sign at the gate as you enter.
Royal Flying Doctors Experience
The Royal Flying Doctor Service’s Visitor Experience offers the opportunity to see the incredible work and extensive reach of the not-for-profit organisation.
During your visit, you have the chance to sit at operations control and hear stories from the heroes of the organisation and recipients of life-saving emergency medical treatments. Charlotte and Teddy loved sitting in the dissected emergency aircraft, role-playing the pilot and doctors who saved people.
While you are there, stop in for a rest and refuel at Outback Trek Café.
Adventure Playground and Botanic Gardens
The Adventure Playground has become our favourite park over the past couple of years. There are so many areas to explore and test a child’s physical limits. We love racing to the top of the log ladder and the sand and water play area (bring spare clothes just in case!!). There is also a Liberty Swing and toilet block on site.
Leave time to drop into the Dubbo Royal Botanic Gardens right next door. Entry into the gardens is free but for a small donation, you are able to grab a packet of fish food and feed the giant Koi and ducks. We have even spotted pelicans there over the years!! We often pack a picnic and have morning tea down in the Sensory Garden, where you can pick strawberries and play in the water fountains.
Dubbo Adventure Playground
Dubbo NSW 2830
The Dubbo Observatory is located beyond Taronga Western Plains Zoo, on Camp Road. There are various tour options to choose from. Make sure you bring your camera and enjoy being able to see the stars, without the light pollution of the city.
If you visit during the day, there is also an 18 hole astronomy-themed mini-golf course.
The Wellington Caves are less than an hour from Dubbo, just east of Wellington. You will need to join a guided tour to explore the caves. We have been to the Cathedral cave, which houses Wellington’s famous stalagmite and the kids are desperate to get back there and explore the fossils and bones in the rock walls of the Phosphate Mine. There is also a café and picnic area on site.
Depending on how long you are visiting, it may be worth investing in a Great Big Adventure Pass if you are in town for a few days. Access to Zoo, Old Dubbo Gaol, Wellington Caves and the Royal Flying Doctors Experience.
Where to Eat
When Abe and I moved to Dubbo 11 years ago, the food scene was very different. In recent years there has been a boom in hospitality with a shift towards more refined options so that families visiting the town don’t have to rely on fast food. We are so blessed to have a number of young entrepreneurs with experience in hospitality and incredible vision who have opened cafes and restaurants and really changed the landscape in the food game.
Church Street Cafe
CSC is our family favourite for breakfast or to grab a takeaway coffee and babyccino. If you are all about health, you can’t go past the Green Brekky Bowl, the Eggs Benny with Salmon is bloody delish and the kids are BIIIG pancake fans! The staff are so lovely and welcoming. There is a kid’s menu and a baby change table in the accessible toilet.
Locals tip: We often choose a table outside so that we can keep an eye on the kids running around the Rotunda while we wait for our order!
Alister and Cristina have done an amazing job creating an oasis right in the centre of town. Die-hard fans of Press Dubbo will argue that they serve the best coffee in town. We highly recommend eating the Cajun Chicken Burger (Lunch) or the Pumpkin Bowl (all day menu). Press has a kids menu featuring milkshakes and dippy eggs as well as baby change facilities. If dining with the family, try to nab a table in the courtyard and explore the herb garden by the back gate.
Short Street Store
We have loved eating at Short Street Store since we moved to Dubbo back in 2010 when it was just around the corner from our first home. There is something about the cosy cottage vibe and the music pumping that makes you feel like you could sit in the courtyard sipping iced lattes and soaking up the sunshine all day! They have the cutest babyccinos in all the land and their snack fridge is well stocked with everything from sandwiches to salads, muffins to cruffins and healthy gluten-free, dairy-free snacks! If you’re really hungry, don’t miss out on Belle’s Breakfast!
The Jacinta Haycock artworks dotted around the café are available for purchase too (insert all the heart eyes!!) and if you’re in a rush, you can pre-order and grab your coffee to go from the Hopetoun Street window!
Jimmy Barnet Espresso
Jimmy Barnet Espresso
98 Macquarie Street
Dubbo NSW 2830
Veldt Restaurant was a welcome arrival on the Dubbo foodie scene when doors opened in 2015. Husband and wife super team Chef Brad and Natalie always deliver a beautifully developed Modern Australian menu featuring fresh seasonal produce. The dishes could be works of art, the plating is so aesthetically pleasing! Veldt operates a set menu of 2 or 3 courses and offers a stellar wine list! We recommend booking ahead so you don’t miss out. Our top menu choices include the gnocchi (vegetarian), beef cheeks, lamb shoulder to share and the chocolate sphere for dessert. ALWAYS CHOOSE THE CHOCOLATE SPHERE!!! No children’s menu is available but Natalie has a list of reliable babysitters if you just can’t resist the opportunity for a date night!
Down The Lane
Down The Lane is the latest venture from Errin and Vinny of CSC fame. The Italian inspired menu is edgy and oh so extra. We go back time and time again for the zucchini flowers, the penne arrabbiata (which is packed full of heat) and the mushroom pizza. I consider myself a bit of a pizza purist but will deviate momentarily to get my Fun Guy pizza fill! And you absolutely need to save room for the zeppole (Italian for doughnut holes served with Nutella) or the tiramisu. Call ahead to book your table, especially on the weekends. Family-friendly and open from 5 pm if you need to get the kids fed and to bed!
The Establishment Bar
If you are looking for a nightcap or a cocktail to start your night, head to The Establishment Bar. You will feel like you have stepped back into a 1920s speakeasy. We love going there for the cocktails and Abe’s favourite from the exotic spirit list is the Ratu (spiced rum). They often have events running so check their socials and book ahead!
If you are searching for a family-friendly Pub for a meal instead, the following pubs have playgrounds and are well suited:
Where to Sleep
When it comes to finding somewhere to rest your head in Dubbo, there is no shortage of options. Are you looking for the flexibility of an Airbnb house or guest suite, or would you prefer a unique experience such as Zoo accommodation or do you need the simplicity of a motel? We have included a couple of options that our friends and colleagues have explored when they have visited and hope that you find our suggestions helpful.
NRMA Dubbo Holiday Park
If you are looking for a family-friendly location to stay, we highly recommend the NRMA Dubbo Holiday Park. Nothing in Dubbo is far. You are a 2-5 minute drive from everything, wherever you choose to stay!
The Holiday Park has a pool, bike tracks, an in-ground trampoline, a kids playground, and a giant bouncing pillow. It is also pet-friendly with an off-leash area for your pooch.
There are lots of accommodation options, from cabin to caravan or campsite. This is a winner for families.
Quality Inn Dubbo International
While it may be true that we have never stayed here, we can vouch for the incredible hospitality of the team who runs the Quality Inn Dubbo International who will personalise your stay in Dubbo and make it memorable. Plus, click here to check out Reflections Restaurant and the pool! Plus, if Dad can’t leave his golf clubs at home for one weekend, you will be staying right across from the golf course!
Taronga Western Plains Zoo
Have you seen the photos from the Zoofari Lodge? They are magnificent. Imagine your kid’s faces when waking up to the animals of the Savannah at their door! Alternatively, the Billabong Camp, right by the Australian Animals enclosure might be a more affordable option, but still a unique experience!