Head to Dubbo for some family-friendly outdoor fun.
A 5-hour drive west of Sydney, Dubbo is a draw for families with kids thanks to the open-range Taronga Western Plains Zoo, home to more than 5,000 animals. Visitors can explore via golf cart or bicycle, or choose a behind-the-scenes, after-hours tour with a glamping package. The Old Dubbo Gaol is also popular among families, with costumed performances during school holidays. Meanwhile, Australian history buffs love Dundullimal Slab Homestead, one of the oldest homes in western New South Wales, and nature lovers head down to the Macquarie River for a dip and to see ancient carvings in Terramungamine Reserve. Accommodation options range from Goobang National Park camping grounds to provide spots to park your motor home.
Delve into an underground wonderland in nearby Wellington, where the Wellington Caves house one of the world’s largest stalagmites: The Altar. Join a guided tour of one of the two show caves to explore an abandoned phosphate mine full of thousands of fossils and ancient bones. Afterward, caravan parks and camping areas beckon with bbq facilities, picnic tables, and more.
Foodies love Mudgee, about 90 minutes’ drive southeast of Dubbo, thanks to tons of attractions and wineries without the crowds of the Hunter Valley. Some 60 wineries sit in and around town, many open to the public for tastings and cellar door sales. The red wines are particularly good here.
About a 90-minute drive southwest on the Newell Highway, Parkes draws campers and visitors for tours of “The Dish,” a giant, 64-metre radio telescope famous for its role in relaying Apollo 11 television pictures from the moon in 1969. Otherwise, this unassuming but quirky country corner of NSW is also home to Australia’s biggest collection of Elvis memorabilia. Parkes comes alive in a mass of sequins at the annual Elvis Festival in January.
Summer in Dubbo can be baking hot but dry, while winter can be very chilly but perfect for campfires. Spring and autumn are delightful times to visit with many events taking place during school holidays. Cool days are best for zoo visits, as the animals tend to sleep when it’s hot out.