Doing Dubbo New South Wales

Meaning “red earth” in the local Wiradjuri language Dubbo is one of New South Wales’ biggest and most vibrant inland towns.

Located 408 kilometres north-west of Sydney, an easy five-hour drive, Dubbo is a city of almost 40,000 people in the Macquarie Valley which was first settled in 1827.

Dubbo is an inland hub, being easily reachable by road from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide via a number of major highways.

A very livable small city, Dubbo is surrounded by many hectares of parkland. One of these is a Biodiversity Garden where you can discover what Dubbo was like before European settlement. At the Biodiversity Garden you’ll see how native grasslands flow into a grassy box woodland and to a wetland, with a range of different food and habitats for native birds and animals.

There is also a Japanese garden which celebrates the sister city relationship that Dubbo has with the Japanese city of Shoyoen, and the Macquarie River Canoe and Kayak Trail which enables participants to enjoy the true beauty of one of vast river systems.

For an understanding of history of European settlement in the area, it is worth visiting Dundullimal Homestead. Built in the early 1840s as the head station of a 6,500 hectare squatting run, the homestead is Dubbo’s oldest building open to the public. Its interior is remarkably sophisticated for its genre, with louvre and multiple-paned glazing opening onto the verandah. The imposing sitting room is noted for its ‘tent’ shaped plaster ceiling, and wallpaper reproduced from an 1850 patent. The master bedroom is complete with iron bed and campaign chest. The house is an interesting contrast to the traditional sandstone stables complex. The ‘working’ areas include the blacksmith’s forge, coach room, sunken cool room, stores and stables. This building reflects the practical yet essential elements of rural life on a large, isolated property during the nineteenth century.     

Another worthwhile historic site is the Old Dubbo Gaol. It was established as a courthouse lockup in 1847. With the selection of the location for a new town along the Macquarie River it was one of the first government buildings along with the constable’s residence and the post office. The lockup, which was a slab hut of one main room and two cells, frequently leaked when it rained and was not the most secure area as it was not enclosed by walls.

In 1871 a new gaol was built complete with 4 cells and a bedroom for the gaoler. This new police gaol, along with Dubbo being proclaimed a circuit court in 1874, saw more serious criminals locked away, including those who had committed such crimes as assault, murder, infanticide and sexual assault. The Dubbo Gaol was provided a gallows for those crimes deemed to warrant the death penalty.

The biggest attraction in Dubbo is the Taronga Western Plains Zoo, and extension of Sydney’s famous Taronga Park Zoo, which is considered to be one of the world’s great zoos.

With over 3sq km of wild and wonderful bushland and 700 animals, Taronga Western Plains Zoo offers a safari adventure right in the heart of NSW. The zoo features many African and Asian animals which are free to roam within large pens, and which allows the visitor to see how herds of beasts act within an open space. Western Plains also presents a large South American collection and, of course, many native Australian animals.

Many people who visit Australia never leave the coastal areas, but it is worthwhile taking the time to venture inland to Dubbo to see just experience a typically Australian rural town that does have plenty of facilities to keep visitors entertained, informed and well accommodated.

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