Dubbo, a five-hour drive west of Sydney, and the surrounding Great Western Plains region offers up plenty of adventure to keep the whole family happy. Here you’ll find world-famous caves and outback star gazing, fascinating historical towns and thrilling wildlife encounters.
Uncover Dubbo’s fascinating history
In the heart of the Great Western Plains, the historic town of Dubbo has a rich colonial and criminal history. Tour the Old Dubbo Gaol to experience what life was like for the prisoners in the 19th century through its animatronic and holographic displays. The heritage buildings contain an intriguing collection of artifacts and offers a bird’s-eye view from the watchtower. Go on a Night Tour or brave Beyond the Grave, an adults-only tour (ages 16 plus) where you might commune with the spiritual world.
Delve deeper into Dubbo’s incredible history at the state-of-the-art Western Plains Cultural Centre, home to the city’s art gallery and museum. Admire a range of frequently changing exhibitions, or sign the kids up for a school holiday workshop such as sculpture or printmaking.
Get up close with wildlife
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is widely recognised as Australia’s greatest open-range zoo and is home to more than 1,500 animals from around the world. Lions, black rhinoceros, Sumatran tigers, elephants and giraffe roam 300 hectares of wide open space. The best way to explore the 6km circuit around the plains is by bike or cart, and every day there are keeper talks, animal shows and close encounters to choose from, including big cat, meerkat and giraffe experiences.
You can also get up close to Australia’s largest flightless bird at Emu Logic Farm, near Warrumbungle National Park, north of Dubbo. Take a tour and meet some of the 900 emus that live on the farm, then pick up some emu oil, soap, wax or emu eggs to take home. Visit from mid-July to see newly hatched chicks chasing after their parents.
Go on a cave tour
The Wellington Caves are about 8km south of the nearby town of Wellington. Here you can take fascinating cave tours where you’ll observe stalagmites, stalactites, columns, flowstones and coral. There are three main caves to see: Cathedral Cave, Gaden Cave and the Fossil and Phosphate Mine. On the grounds opposite the caves is the stunning Japanese Osawano Gardens, with its manicured gardens, stream and lake. You can stay overnight at Wellington Caves, with camp and caravan sites, park cabins and units available.
Dubbo is full of adventures for the whole family to enjoy.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo
CREDIT: Destination NSW
Family enjoying a giraffe encounter at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo.
Hop on your bike
As the name suggests, the Great Western Plains are mostly flat, which makes the region perfect for exploring on two wheels. Cycling trails run through the centre of Dubbo, along the Tracker Riley Cycleway out to Taronga Western Plains Zoo, beside the Macquarie River or through rolling farmland on the 65km Rawsonville to Minore Loop.
For those who prefer transport of the motorised variety, Trike Adventures in Dubbo offer unique and fun motorcycling tours. You can choose from a range of tours including a 30-minute Dubbo highlights tour, a High Tea Experience or an Outback Pub Adventure.
Sample delicious local produce
Pick up some fresh local produce at the Dubbo Farmers Market, held on the first and third Saturday of every month. There’s great coffee and plenty of breakfast options to tide you over while browsing stalls of fruit, vegetables, bread, meat, olive oil, jam, honey, nuts, wine and more. While in Dubbo, be sure to enjoy an award-winning pie from the Village Bakehouse. Run by fourth-generation bakers, specialities include chunky Angus steak, chilli beef and chicken-and-mushroom pies.
Cool off in and on the water
The vast Lake Burrendong, near the town of Wellington, is the Great Western Plains’ aquatic playground. It’s a popular spot for fishing, boating, water skiing canoeing and swimming. There are camping areas close to the shore or two holiday parks offering cabins and other amenities.
In Dubbo, Adventure Craft Hire provides kayaks and paddle boards to get out on the Macquarie River. Choose from single-seat or double-seat kayaks with paddles, life jackets and dry bags included. The Macquarie River is fairly easy paddling and there are many reserves along the trail where you can stop for a well-earned lunch break.
See the skies
The southern hemisphere’s first and only Dark Sky Park is in the Warrumbungle region of country NSW. Dark Sky Parks are recognised internationally for their outstanding nocturnal environment and clear, dark skies. Camp under the stars in Warrumbungle National Park at various camping grounds and heritage huts to take in incredible views of the galaxy. Alternatively, the Warrumbungle Observatory and the Dubbo Observatory, both offer nightly viewing sessions.
For a different perspective of the skies, take an adventure flight in a historic, preserved ex-military aircraft. Warrior Warbird Adventure Flights, operating out of Dubbo, gives people the opportunity to experience the thrill of flight, taking in spectacular views and the excitement of G-forces of up to four times gravity at the bottom of a loop, to momentary weightlessness at the top of a stall turn.
Fringed by national parks, rainforests and the stunning Sapphire Coast, Tathra is a natural amusement park that’s around six hours’ drive south of Sydney. There are bike trails to explore, rainforests to hike through and sparkling beaches to surf. This thriving community offers an unforgettable seaside escape that the whole family can enjoy.
Get out on the water
At pretty Tathra beach the whole family can learn to surf with Coastlife Adventures, which offers small group and individual surfing lessons throughout the summer and supplies soft G-Boards, full wetsuits and leg ropes. If you want to fast-track your surfing skills, you can book a three-lesson package. Kids will love the Nudie SurfGroms program, which teaches surf safety and board skills for kids between the ages of 5 and 12 years old. Tathra Beach is also an idyllic spot to try stand-up paddle (SUP) boarding. Get a kick out of SUP at sunrise, paddling out towards Tathra Wharf into Boulder Bay to watch the cliffs turn tangerine with the sun. You can hire all the equipment you need at Tathra Beach & Bike right on the beach.
Hop on your bike
For a biking adventure, hire mountain bikes, helmets and tackle one of the many trails in and around Tathra. For families and beginners, a 2.5km concrete bike path starts right outside Tathra Beach & Bike shop, taking you to Bega River and Mogareeka inlet. Entry-level mountain bikers will enjoy the beautiful Fords Farm headland ride, a 10km loop back to Tathra Beach. For more experienced mountain bike riders, there is roughly 20km of single track to explore through the Bundadung Trail Network, starting at the Tathra Country Club.
Prefer to travel on foot? Tathra’s walking tracks take in stunning views of the hinterland and coastline. Choose from easy beach loops to more difficult hiking trails through Bournda National Park.
Tathra Region Highlights
CREDIT: Destination NSW
Highlights from the untouched region of Tathra on the Far South Coast.
Man heading out for a morning of stand-up paddleboarding at Tathra Beach, Tathra.
Fish for your lunch
Tathra is a haven for fishing enthusiasts, with surf, rock and blue-water fishing, or you can throw in a line at freshwater streams and dams. At Tathra Beach, fish for salmon, tailor or sand whiting, or head to Bega River for bream, flathead and estuary perch. Tathra has a first-rate launching facility at Kianinny Bay, with fish-cleaning tables, ample parking and boat washing facilities too. Picnic tables and barbecue facilities make this a great spot for a cook-up.