I’m all about that bucket list of mine. I love travelling to places I’ve dreamed of seeing for so so long, places that are on my bucket list and I can tick off and say “yep I’ve been there!”. Seeing Dubbo has been on that list because I’ve longed to see a different side of NSW that isn’t coastal. I grew up in the country and just love the laid back lifestyle, with the miles of acres in every direction. Seeing Central NSW had to happen.
When we heard about the Carcoar Running Festival coming up, we put two and two together and said why not combine the two trips together to make one hell of a holiday seems as we’d already be making our way out to Central NSW. So first stop was Carcoar for three nights to attend the annual running festival, then it would be onto Dubbo for some exploring!
We left Friday morning just before lunch to make tracks for Carcoar. Given we had to drive through the Blue Mountains to get there we decided to stop in at my Grandmas as the half way point for a catch up and a cuppa. After, we kept heading west for Carcoar Dam (a free camp situated on the out skirts of Carcoar on the dam – it has flushing toilets and cold showers) arriving late afternoon just as a thunder storm was rolling over. We literally had no time for setting up as the little time we did have, we spent it tying to find flat ground and levelling the caravan for our stay. As soon as we had done that the thunder storm came over. We decided to stay warm and cosy in the van and call it a day, playing checkers and having cuddles before bed. I’d already pre cooked a pasta bake for dinner which made the evening all too easy and relaxing!
The following morning our family arrived who were joining us for the Carcoar Running Festival. The boys were stoked to have their cousins with us for this part of our trip! We spent our first day exploring Blayney and Carcoar, and also driving the festival course so the boys competing knew what they were up against! Seeing Carcoar was so amazing! It’s the most beautiful little village of historic homes and buildings with such gorgeous flowers in every direction. It was a dream! You’ll even find a little museum worth having a peak in which is also free entry!
The following day we were up bright and early to get ready for the running festival. Both Mannie and Kurt were entered to race, and both did incredible in their races with Kurt competing against 145 children ages 8-12 years – coming in 3rd for his age and 6th overall in a 2.3km distance. Mannie did amazing in the half marathon coming in 8th for his age division and cracking his goal time even with an ITB knee injury that occurred mid race! So proud of both my boys!
That evening we all set up at camp with a cold beverage, a camp fire and food while the kids all made friends with other camping kids and played spotlight until they were ready for bed. Sunsets and sunrises in Carcoar were just magical, with pink, orange and purple skies surrounding you.
Monday came around before we knew it which was time for us to pack up and head off on our next adventure – Dubbo!
Driving out to Dubbo from Carcoar was beautiful. There were wide open spaces for as far as the eye could see. It looked and felt amazing. I had this buzz about me, the excitement and anticipation of finally getting to Dubbo was going to happen!
We arrived to Dubbo and headed straight to the Dubbo City Holiday Park. We checked in and the staff at reception were so friendly and helpful, even printing out things to do locally and giving us plenty of food recommendations- including the best scones in Dubbo!
We headed for our camp site which was an ensuite site, that way we could have our own bathroom on site to make our stay that bit more easier with the kids for a longer period of time. Situated right at the front of our camp site was a beautiful orange flowering tree which made it all the more beautiful! We got ourselves all set up this time and ready for a few days of fun and relaxation. We had an early night so we would all be fresh for what would be a big day of adventure the next day – Taronga Western Plains Zoo!
The boys were beside themselves to be heading to the zoo, what kid wouldn’t be?! Even we were jumping out of our skins haha! Dubbo Zoo is like no other I’ve ever experienced. It was almost like something straight out of Africa! Needless to say I was excited to see the Meerkats and the boys were excited to see the Giraffes, Koalas and Tigers! We opted to hand feed the giraffes as an additional encounter which was absolutely incredible! The Giraffes came up so close to you and were ever so gentle while feeding. It was such a highlight for our whole family to experience. We also chose to do the Savannah Safari tour, where the Safari Bus takes you out the Safari lands for a closer look at the animals. It was very educational as well, with the tour guide sharing facts and information about the animals and even getting the kids involved in answering questions.
Getting around the zoo was made so easy as you can actually take your car into the zoo grounds and drive from each encounter to the next. How handy is that when you’ve got kids! It also makes it so much easier than walking the 5km track with kids on such big days like zoo days!
We spent the rest of our time at the zoo looking at all the other animals, playing at the parks and of course, stopping for an ice cream before heading over to Dundullimal Homestead for an afternoon coffee and scones, while the boys enjoyed banana bread and milkshakes! The staff at Dubbo City Holiday Park were right when they said Dundullimal have the best scones ever! So delicious!
We then spent the afternoon around the caravan and playing in the holiday parks playgrounds, which the boys loved! Kyle loved all the bright colourful play equipment for climbing and Kurt loved playing Ninja Warrior along all the obstacles haha! They even enjoyed some time on the jumping pillow with Dad getting in on the fun too! Kurt particularly loved the unground trampoline where he finally mastered the art of a front flip and landing on two feet! Legend!
After a huge few days of exploring we decided to have a slow paced day on the most perfect of days for it! The one rainy day we got, we spent the morning visiting the Wellington Caves which were so incredible to see and learn the history of! We’ve wanted to see inside caves for so long now, so this experience was exciting for all of us! There were many fossils and crystals inside, it was just amazing!
For the remainder of our slow paced day, we spent it in the caravan basically doing next to nothing. Nothing but movies, jam rolls, coffee, nana naps and a late afternoon dash over to the local health store for some chocolate treats. We were all so tired and a day just like that couldn’t have been more perfect. That evening once the boys were asleep, Mann and I even snuggled up and watched a movie together. If you haven’t yet watched Captain Fantastic it’s so worth the watch. The start is very horrific but after that, it’s one of those movies that make you think twice. Although the Dad in the movie is full on with his ways and beliefs, it makes your crave a somewhat similar life. One thing I do love about van life is the movie times in the van. It always feels more fun and special in the caravan.
After our slow paced day, we returned back to true form and jam packed a day of exploring and fun in! We had a list of places to stop by and first up was the Old Dubbo Gaol. But first, I was eager to hit some local op shops in search of some clothes other than my shorts, singlets and 1 long sleeve I had packed as it was a breezy coolish morning. When I packed I checked the weather forecast ahead which said we’d be in for hot days. By the time we arrived in Dubbo the weather forecast had changed and there we all were with basically no warm clothes haha! So we stopped off at an op shop for a shop and an outfit change where I found so many brands at bargain prices! There was Kookai, Portmans and Roxy tops all waiting for me! I was super stoked with my finds!
We then set off to Old Dubbo Gaol. Visiting old gaols when we we’re able to is always a must for us. Its surprisingly interesting the things you will learn when visiting. There is an abundance of history to be learnt about how things were back in the days of these old gaols in operation. I do however get shivers and the spooks everytime too haha! The boys, especially Kurt, always finds the old gaols fascinating as well. Its so good for kids to learn what our world use to be like compared to now. A favourite experience at Old Dubbo Gaol for us was the movie like display about the Condemned men.
The staff at Old Dubbo Gaol were so friendly and helpful during our visit, even recommending a local cafe to stop by for lunch – which I’d already had my eye on haha! We headed over to Press, which was OMG WOW! The most amazing cafe food we’ve ever had! Yep I said it, ever! If you’re into delicious healthy food this is the spot to go! The paprika hommus, ill never forget. Yum! I recommend the Roast Pumpkin Bowl with the fresh Blood Orange juice. Mouth is watering!
We then waddled over to the Dubbo Botanical Gardens for a gentle walk with the boys, just giving them some open space to be free and look at all the beauty around them. We haven’t visited a Botanical Garden before with the boys, but they absolutely love it. We spent well over an hour just walking around looking at all the flowers, smelling them, seeing the fish, trees and waterfalls. It was really beautiful!
Our last spot to visit for the day was the Royal Flying Doctor! I’d been told it’s a great experience for the kids to see and learn about, which is something we are passionate about with our kids while travelling is to always come home having learnt something new. The ladies were so beautiful and friendly – and incredibly great with kids! We got to see a map of where all the Flying Doctor Services in Australia are and what planes were out at that very moment helping someone in need. We got to watch a video about the people the Flying Doctor Service has helped, then for the fun bit – the boys got to jump aboard an aircraft themselves (an educational display aircraft), and look inside the cockpit and even “fly” the plane which was all interactive. We then got to see the medical kits that are available to be provided to families living in remote areas and also one from way back in the olden days. It really does make you think how easy we do have it living back here at home when our doctor is just a phone call away, just as our medicine is just a short drive down the road!
We wrapped up the day at about 3pm and headed back for camp. Driving back to the caravan, I was having these thoughts of going to the effort of packing up and heading home seems as we had planned to first thing the next day. I was thinking at least leaving later in the afternoon the boys will sleep for about half the trip and it will be an easy, quiet drive home. I thought to myself, I won’t say anything to Mann until im certain, because we always seem to twist each others arm and go for it haha! I just wasn’t 100% sure if I wanted the holiday to be over yet haha! But then Mann mentioned it to me, and I told him what I’d been thinking. We took that as a sign and decided to pack up and travel home, giving us the whole of Friday at home unpacking, picking up the pets from my Dads and getting the lawns mown and washing done!
So we packed up in record time of 45 minutes, hitched up and hit the road en route for home! Heading home was a beautiful site to see, filled with endless open spaces all over again. Driving through the Great Dividing Range we even had patches of beautiful red dirt! It felt like we were miles away from home. Which we were, but you know what I mean haha! Both of the boys slept for the majority of the day, given the big day we had had, plus a big few days, they were tired! We had a beautiful sunset driving through Denman that was so breath taking.
It was certainly a trip I’ll never forget. It was so nice to see and experience new things, new sites and new places. If you’ve been wanting to visit Dubbo, put it on your list to do sooner rather than later because it really is a place you won’t forget. It’s bought back so many memories for me growing up in the country and gosh I miss it. As much as I love living so close to the coast for the beaches, I will always be a country girl at heart.
A special thank you to Dubbo City Holiday Park for making our trip so easy and fun! If you’re looking for accomodation in Dubbo for your stay, I highly recommend the package available that can save you up to 15% off, which includes your accomodation, zoo tickets and gaol tickets through Dubbo City Holiday Park. Until next time Dubbo! You’ll be seeing us again.