As you know, we went to Dubbo last weekend and as promised, here is all the stuff you might want to know; what we saw, where we stayed and where we stopped along the way. If you're new to the blog, I'm Laura - a food obsessed pilates instructor, living in Newcastle with my two boys and husband.
It's just under 400km from Newcastle to Dubbo down the Golden Highway. On the drive, you cross the Great Dividing Range and the views in some parts are breathtakingly beautiful.
Before leaving Newcastle, we had breakfast at the Newcastle Food and Flower market - they have a great little cafe, there is always parking and you can get fresh produce and flowers as well. What's not to love
August is canola season which means fields of gold. It's so pretty!
We stopped in Denman because the boys were getting very sleepy and we didn't think they would make it to Merriwa which is about halfway. I used to visit Denman when I worked in Newcastle 12 years ago and it's changed a lot since then. There are three little cafes, 2 pubs and a bakery to choose from. We got treats from the bakery, cheeses for after dinner from Hunter Valley Liquers and Baerami Estate Olives and coffees from Fresh.
As suspected, both of the kids were asleep when we got to Merriwa so we didn't stop. There is a really great park right next to the public restrooms so if you've packed your snacks and the kids aren't asleep then it may be a better rest stop option.
We stopped for a late lunch in Dunedoo at the local cafe - The White Rose. It's quite famous and has really good sandwiches. There was also a really good park next to the public restrooms so the kids could burn off some energy. Also, if you're into them there is a silo with a huge artwork painted on the side of the racehorse "Wish" and his jockey who is from Dunedoo. Check out the Australian Silo Art Trail here.
It was only 50 minutes to our accommodation from there so we managed to get by with eye spy and a child friendly version of 20 questions called "I'm thinking of something". You pick a fruit, vegetable or animal and everyone has to ask questions until they work out what it is. James who is four really enjoyed it and even Valentino who is only two felt like he was playing along.
Where we stayed
We wanted to be on a farm rather than in town itself. We chose Wongarbon because it was still pretty close to town but it was far away from people. We chose Billy O's Bush Retreat because there was a lot to look at for the boys and we thought it would provide entertainment without much effort on our behalf.
Mark the owner was lovely and has built it all himself. We had booked the cottage but got upgraded to the Meet House when we got there. It was much bigger and had a commercial kitchen inside, two toilets and was close to the main communal area that contained all of the old cars and curios that the kids loved exploring. Mark will be adding in shower screens very soon but while we were there, Chris and I showered in the communal showers and we sponge washed the kids.
If you want an internal shower and you're going soon, the cottage is what you want. Bear in mind however, that it has a microwave and sink inside and a BBQ outside. It also has a pretty cute deck overlooking the bush out the back. Although it rained most of the second day, we were lucky enough to see this full rainbow from the deck. The picture does not do it justice - it was just so magical.
Mark kindly offered to take us spotlighting on the second night. It was short and sweet due to the drizzle but we saw lots of rabbits which the kids also loved. When it's not raining, there is a fully licensed bar on premises and he lights a big fire for everyone. There is also a pool in summer.
The sole purpose of going to Dubbo was to go to the Taronga Western Plains zoo. It was brilliant. We used the two days included with the pass and were happily surprised to learn we could drive out own car around. Over the course of the two days we visited all of the animals in there at a calm pace that both boys could manage. James rode his balance bike around and Valentino was happy to walk between exhibits. Chris and I took turns to move the car around.
We packed snacks and lunches for the kids and stopped for lunch at "The Waterhole" for lunch on both days. They had a selection of sandwiches, baked goods including pizzas and the standard hot chips too. The kids loved that there was a meerkat enclosure right next to the tables. If you're going in warmer months, there is also a splash park there for kids.
We didn't get to any of these but other things to do in Dubbo are here
Dubbo Botanical Gardens - There is also an amazing park next to it
We did get coffees in town from Press. It was a lot busier than we expected so if you're wanting breakfast, best to book ahead. We were also recommend Short Street Store by a lovely client if you need a different cafe each day.
I like travelling in circles (it's a bit weird, I know) so we decided to go home via Mudgee. We had breakfast at Cade Kitchen & Bar which is located inside Cobb and Co Court Boutique Hotel. One of our favourite vineyards is in Mudgee but alas it is not open on Sundays. Thankfully though Short Sheep Micro-winery, do deliver to Newcastle.
I wanted to visit Gulgong and Wellington but it just didn't work out with kids and sleep times. Next time I guess. If you have bigger kids and more time, it may be worth checking out both of these little towns.
We stopped in Denman one more time for lunch at Gerard's Place, before heading home to give the kids a proper wash, get unpacked and ready for the week ahead.
I hope this blog has been useful and don't forget you can save it for next time you're heading west over the great Dividing Range. Share it if you know someone else who is going soon.
Have a wonderful day