11 Fun Things To Do In Dubbo With Kids

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It didn’t take the kids much to twist our arms and have us agree to take a road trip with their cousins to Dubbo in central west New South Wales, Australia.

It wasn’t the first destination that sprung to mind when I thought of family-friendly destinations in Australia, but as it turns out, there are plenty of things to do in Dubbo with kids. In fact, most of the attractions are family-friendly and cater to children.

If you’ve never been to Dubbo before, you’re in for a treat. With just 39,000 residents, it’s a tiny city, and known for its red earthy landscape. In fact, Dubbo translates to “red earth” or “misty” in aboriginal tongue, so you can imagine the kind of desolate, remote landscape it has.

It’s also just a 5 hour drive from Sydney, which makes it the perfect weekend getaway. In this guide, T and Leah have shared their top attractions in Dubbo so you can decide what to do on your visit.

Things To Do in Dubbo With Kids

1. Explore Taronga Western Plains Zoo

girls in yellow rain jackets looking at gnu at zoo
Visiting the Taronga Western Plains Zoo is one of the best things to do in Dubbo with kids

Without a doubt, Taronga Western Plains Zoo is the top attraction in the city and one of the best things to do in Dubbo with kids.

Spreading across 300 hectares of bushland and integrated grasslands, the zoo is home to over 700 animals from five of the world’s continents.

The large space provides ample room for animals to free roam – exactly how zoos should be!

mother and baby rhino in zoo
The Taronga Western Plains Zoo is home to over 700 animals – sure to be a hit with the kids

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is an all weather location. Whether it’s sunny, overcast or drizzling with rain, I’m pretty certain the whole family will have a blast.

The free roaming enclosures mean that you can see each animal type in a near to natural habitat. It’s almost like seeing them in the wild!

You can see the lion pride, hippos, elephants, and even stop to watch keeper talks where you can learn all about the conservation efforts.

kids in golf cart posing
Visiting the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo with kids is fun in any weather

Dubbo zoo is structured around a 6-kilometre circuit which visitors can navigate by foot, bike, electric buggy or your own vehicle.

On our trip, we arrived early so we could snag an electric buggy, something all of the kids were super excited about.

man looking at animals in zoo
The Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo is easy to navigate

Whilst the electric buggy was a lot of fun for the kids, the animals were their absolute favourite thing about Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Each time we came to another enclosure they would all excitedly point out the animals, taking turns to read the information panels so could learn about their habitat and food preferences.

girl looking at zebra in zoo
The animals are definitely the highlight for the kids at the zoo in Dubbo

Having studied the daily keeper talk itinerary, we were able to fit in a few as we drove around the zoo in our buggy.

Whilst the information panels gave a lot of information, the beauty of a keeper talk is they’re always interactive and you can ask a few questions.

The kids loved this opportunity and put the keeper to the test with their tricky questions.

giraffe at zoo

Having visited in Spring, we just missed out on the grand opening of the Savannah Safari. If you plan a trip now you will catch it.

For an extra $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for children, you can experience a unique guided tour amongst the African animals on the Savannah Safari truck. Cheaper than a trip to Africa!

group of kids posing for photo

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is open every day of the year. Tickets are valid for two consecutive days. If you purchase online you will save 20% off full priced adult and children ticket rates.

2. Visit Old Dubbo Gaol

kids posing at entrance to dubbo zoo
Things to do in Dubbo with kids

A trip to the Old Dubbo Gaol must be included on your itinerary if you’re staying in the area. It’s an opportunity for you to step back in time with the kids and, if framed well, won’t be scary at all.

Visiting on the school holidays is perhaps the best time to go with the kids as quite often the staff create amazing school holiday programs that a perfectly geared for the younger visitor.

things to do in Dubbo with kids

Our visit coincided with the Guided Escapes Tour. It was far from the traditional guided tour, with an inmate showing us around before he was abruptly interrupted by one of the guards.

This is where the show really took off, and with the kids helping the inmate, became quite interactive.

I don’t want to give away the whole experience by detailing it in any length, but let’s just say hysterical laughter was heard across the audience as the kids were brought to task for getting up to a whole of mischief with the inmate. Make sure you do it! (It’s included in the entry ticket).

Prisoner character at the Old Dubbo Gaol, Dubbo
credit: Destination NSW

Old Dubbo Gaol is open seven days a week, excluding Christmas Day, from 9.00am to 5.00 pm. It is off Macquarie Street straight across from Woolworths. Entrance costs $22.50 for adults and $8.00 for children.

3. Marvel at Wellington Caves

things to do in Dubbo with kids

Surely exploring a cave system is on your family bucket list?

At Wellington, just south of Dubbo, you can take a cave tour of a cave system that has formed in an outcrop of 400 million-year-old Early Devonian limestone.

Wellington Caves is the most significant site for mammal fossils in the world with those found here ranging in age from 30,000 to 4 million years! You can even take part in fossil finding sessions here.

You can see Megafauna in the cave walls! This made a little exploration of the caves a “must see” on our great Dubbo adventure.

hand holding tray of fossils
things to do in Dubbo with kids

At the Wellington Cave site, you can take a guided tour of Cathedral Cave, Gaden Cave and the Phosphate Mine. They are spread out across the day, so I highly recommend choosing your preferred caves in advance and identifying their tour times so you don’t miss out.

The idea of spotting a giant Diprotodon was almost unfathomable, but sure enough, by the end of our visit, we had checked it off our list.

The kids learned that a giant kangaroo, a carnivorous goanna that was seven metres long and a marsupial lion were also found in the caves. Amazing stuff.

stalactites in cave
things to do in Dubbo with kids

Whilst the Phosphate Mine is famous for its bones, the Cathedral Cave is famous for its stalagmites and stalactites which the kids found fascinating.

They learned the sayings “Stalagmites MIGHT grow up” and “Stalactites hold on TIGHT” which helped them to remember what to call the formations.

Wellington Caves is just under 60 km south-east of Dubbo. The site is open seven days a week excluding Christmas Day from 9.00am – 4.30pm. General admission is at $29.50 for adults, $27.00 for concessions and $14.50 for children (under 4s go free). Each tour lasts for around an hour.

4. Have Lunch/Coffee at Short Street Store

things to do in Dubbo with kids

While in the Dubbo area, don’t forget to check out Short Street Store. This is a local secret, but if you make your way to this little hideaway, you will discover the best coffee and homemade bites in town.

It has a calming, relaxing and family-friendly atmosphere and lots of natural light, so you can open up some coloring books and storybooks and enjoy some quiet, relaxing time as a family here.

5. Observe The Night Sky at Dubbo Observatory

boy looking into telescope on roof of observatory
Explore and learn about the planets, stars and galaxies through telescopes at Dubbo Observatory in Dubbo. | credit: Destination NSW

If you want a closer look of the stars, drop by the Dubbo Observatory. They run regular night time star gazing sessions, as well as astronomy talks, and a chance to look through some high-tech telescopes.

Kids will be amazed to hear all about our planet and its position in the galaxy. They will learn about nebulas, the Milky Way and other galaxies, and have all their curious astronomy questions answered.

Star Gazing experiences usually last about two hours, and you need to book your spot in advance to avoid disappointment.

6. Dubbo Royal Flying Doctor Base Visitor Education Centre

children looking inside royal flying doctor's plane
Credit: Destination NSW

Learn about the heroes who keep the Australian outback communities safe at the Royal Flying Doctors Service Visitor Experience.

Here you can learn all about the doctors and nurses and their heroic efforts saving lives in the outback, as well as see the aircrafts up close, hear real-life stories, and meet the team.

The museum is well curated with lots of interactive exhibits and hands-on experiences, from AR health stations to witnessing the control screens up close.

Dubbo Royal Flying Doctor Base is open rain or shine, from 9.00am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday, 9.00am – 4.00pm on Saturday, and 9.00am – 3.00pm on Sunday. They are closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day, Good Friday and Anzac Day.

General admission costs $23 for Adults, $15 for children (under 4s free), and there are family tickets available too.

7. Go Camping at Terramungamine Reserve

aboriginal elder pointing to rock art
Peter Peckham of First Lesson Cultural Tours, Dubbo sharing his knowledge of Aboriginal art. | credit: Destination NSW

Terramungamine Reserve is just 10 kilometers north of Dubbo, and is the perfect place to explore if you want to get out into nature.

This picturesque reserve boasts over 150 ancient rock carvings and rock grooves along the Macquarie River, showcasing the artistry of the Wiradjuri Tribe.

The best way to experience the reserve it to go camping. Here you can pitch a tent and enjoy the serene landscape and tranquil riverside sounds.

8. Splash Around at Dubbo Aquatic Leisure Centre

If you’ve seen a lot of museums and educational things, then you may want to take your kids to the Dubbo Aquatic Leisure Centre.

This leisure facility boasts an Olympic-sized pool, a leisure pool, thrilling water slides, and an expansive splash park for the young ones.

Whether you’re seeking a refreshing swim, an adrenaline-pumping slide, or a relaxing time by the water, it has something for everyone.

9. See Old Dundullimal Homestead

Another historical attraction in Dubbo worth checking out is the Old Dundullimal Homestead, which offers a glimpse into the region’s rich colonial history.

With beautifully restored buildings, including stables and a forge, Dundullimal Homestead captures the charm of the 1840s. It’s also surrounded by picturesque farmland where your kids can run and play.

The homestead doesn’t take long to see, but it’s worth stopping by to learn about the lives of its former owners.

10. Chill Out At Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden & Adventure Playground

pond surrounded by japanese plants
The scenic traditional Japanese Shoyoen | credit: Destination NSW

Another top attraction in Dubbo for families to enjoy is the Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden, which is also home to the Dubbo Regional Adventure Playground.

Explore the wonders of nature as you soar through the air on the thrilling flying fox or race down the giant slide. Swing to your heart’s content on the giant basket swing, while your little one’s senses come alive in the sensory gardens.

Marvel at the serene Shoyoen Japanese Garden and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the arboretum.

With its diverse range of attractions, including 40 attractions for kids, this is one place you cannot skip off your itinerary.

Entrance to the botanic gardens and the adventure playground are free, but it only opens from 7.00am – 5.00pm.

11. Go Fishing or Kayaking at Lake Burrendong

Family enjoying a paddle across Lake Burrendong.
Paddling across Lake Burrendong. | credit: Destination NSW

Lake Burrendong in Dubbo is the perfect place fishing enthusiastic families.

This picturesque lake is renowned for its abundance of fish, particularly golden perch and yellowbelly, making it a dream destination for anglers seeking trophy catches.

It’s also a tranquil place to enjoy some kayaking or paddleboarding.

Where to Stay in Dubbo

things to do in Dubbo with kids

While there are a plethora of hotels in Dubbo, we decided to make our trip to Dubbo truly memorable and booked a couple of nights at the Savannah Cabins.

Travelling with two families, we felt that this option lent itself to an intimate, family focused stay.

things to do in Dubbo with kids

We wanted to make a real adventure out of our trip so had travelled to Dubbo via Canberra.

Arriving at the Savannah Cabins at the end of a long drive was perfection. The cabins were not only fully self-contained but had a few little extras that made our stay truly amazing, like gorgeous toiletries and fruit.

things to do in Dubbo with kids

Whilst the adults unpacked the cars, the kids headed off to find themselves some giraffes.

Armed with the binoculars they had found in our cabin, they trekked through the long grass to an opening where they could see the giraffes over the fence. They also spotted a number of kangaroos resulting in a lot of excited squeals of delight.

main room in savannah cabins dubbo zoo
things to do in Dubbo with kids

Shortly, the kids had recruited other children from neighbouring cabins and before long they were all playing tag, then footy and then tag again. This continued into the night where we shared a barbecue on our verandah. It was perfection.

If you do stay at the Savannah Cabins and the kids are up after dark, I highly recommend going outside to one of the clearings, laying back on a picnic blanket and watching the stars.

Without the lights from a city brightening the sky, you should be able to see the Milky Way in all its glory and even spot a shooting star.

things to do in Dubbo with kids

Savannah Cabins caters for a variety of budgets with three accommodation options. You can also read Caz and Craig’s experience at the Dubbo Zoofari Lodge here.

Final Thoughts

Our trip to Dubbo was an amazing adventure with the kids not only learning a little about animal conservation but also widening their knowledge of both scientific discovery and Australian history through our respective tours of Wellington Caves and Old Dubbo Zoo.

On arriving back at home, our youngest traveller decided to do a little research on Megafauna after being inspired by the university project work she had observed at Wellington Caves.

The middle kids decided they wanted to be zookeepers and promptly booked an experience at Taronga Zoo It’s amazing to see travel adventures leading to new projects between our travels.

I wonder if Dubbo will have the same impact on your kids!

Want some more exciting things to do in the Dubbo Region, check out these guides…

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