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  • Writer's pictureJenna van Bentum

Weekend Escape From Sydney – Dubbo and Surrounds

Four adults, five kids and a long weekend… let’s go to the zoo! We don’t need much convincing when it comes to going on a new adventure, so when friends of ours said that they promised their daughter a trip to the zoo in lieu of giving up her dummy and asked if we wanted to join them, we jumped at the idea. Of course we could have gone to Taronga Zoo Sydney but, with the long weekend coming up, it was decided that Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, NSW was a better idea.

Cue the count down from four of the five kids. They were so excited when we told them all that we were headed to Dubbo and to the zoo. Bailee announced that she still had her birthday money stashed away and could pay for everyone’s tickets! I told her that was very kind but I’ll spot her this time and she could save her money for something while we are there.

The time came, bags were packed, bikes were loaded and before we knew it 5am Saturday morning rolled around and we were on the road to Dubbo. Our first stop was breakfast in Lithgow. Unfortunately our favourite cafe wasn’t yet open so we made do with the golden arches, much to the kids excitement! Plus it made for a good run around in the playground for the kids.

St Mary's Mudgee

St Mary’s Church, Mudgee

You may remember my trip to Mudgee last year? Ever since that trip I’d been telling Matt how I’d fallen in love with that little town, its markets and its wine, so of course I needed to take the crew on a tour of my favourite places. First of all we enjoyed coffee from Alby & Esthers before heading to the local farmers markets in the grounds of St Mary of the Presentation Catholic Church.

Lowe Wines

Lowe Wines and the treasure map for kids

A Winter long weekend wouldn’t really be one without a glass of vino by the fire, so to make sure that happened we popped into Lowe Wines for a quick tasting and purchase. The kids loved running around in the rain following the map of the winery and looking for the animals.

 Henry Lawson Parade in Gulgong

Henry Lawson Parade in Gulgong

With mud up to our knees it was time to push on and visit one of NSW’s little gems, Gulgong. I’ve spoken of this gold rush town before in my post on Mudgee and I was so excited to share it with the rest of my family and friends. We arrived just in time for the Henry Lawson Festival Parade and what a parade it was! We ate pies in the rain as we watched the dressed up locals and old cars go by. It was such a highlight and not even a spot of rain could bother us.

Henry Lawson Parade in Gulgong

Henry Lawson Parade in Gulgong

Henry Lawson Parade in Gulgong

We found Mulga Bill in Gulgong!

Final stop for the day, our Air BnB in Narromine. I found us a 4 bedroom house on a property that was 20 minutes from Taronga Western Plains Zoo. As soon as we all fell out of the cars the kids were on their bikes tearing around the property. Meanwhile us parents made ourselves at home and started the fire. Bliss!

Air Bnb Australia

Salt Bush and Lamb Farm Air BnB

Zoo day had arrived and five little kids were excited, although the youngest of the crew may have just been excited about breakfast, he is only 1 after all. We pre-booked our zoo tickets to take advantage of the 20% online discount. We also took our own bikes to ride around the zoo. You can hire bikes, bike’n’caboose and electric carts to get around or simply take the car in. There is a 6km one way circuit to complete and plenty of spots to get out or dismount to explore. If you plan on hiring bikes or an electric cart then I suggest you arrive at the zoo at opening time to make sure you don’t miss out.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo Bikes

Riding around Taronga Western Plains Zoo

I also recommend packing your own picnic lunch for the day. There are a couple of cafe’s at the zoo but if it is a busy weekend then the wait for food is long and they sell out of product.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo Bikes

Riding up close to the animals

It is also worth noting that the bikes and cars share the road around the zoo. If you have kids who are confident bike riders then you’ll be fine. If you have younger kids who get distracted and you are there on a busy weekend then I would re-consider the bike riding and take the car in. We found reversing cars to be particularly scary when it came to kids on bikes!

Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Just scoping out the new visitors

It was so nice to see the animals in big open enclosures, although it can make them a little harder to see. It is a good idea to get the feeding program when you arrive and visit the animals at feeding time to ensure you get a good view of them. One feeding time you don’t want to miss is the lions in the new Lion Pride Lands area. Watching the lion cubs come running out for their food is pretty amazing!

Taronga Western Plains Zoo
Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Our big day exploring the zoo had come to an end and we were all pretty exhausted from being on our bikes all day. We did make one last stop at the zoo gift shop as I knew Bailee had plans to use some of her birthday money at the zoo but I didn’t want her to use it all at once. Lucky I had a solution and one I’ve been excited to tell you about. Bailee just recently received a Spriggy card which is a parent controlled pre-paid Visa card that I control via the Spriggy app on my phone. We loaded all of her birthday money into the Savings and Goals part of her Spriggy account via my bank account. I only transferred a small amount onto the Spriggy Visa Card for her to spend. She bought the zoo’s souvenir book and a bracelet using her Spriggy card and she said she felt so grown up!


Back at the Air BnB we enjoyed an afternoon of playing outside while the sun went down over the red dirt and before too long, we all hit the hay.

Air Bnb Australia

Enjoying the sunset at our Air Bnb

Air Bnb Australia

Red dirt and wide open spaces makes for happy kids!

We took a different way back to Sydney the next day. This time heading to the town of Orange where we enjoyed lunch at The Agrestic Grocer. The food was delicious and included a kids menu. Beware that the kids menu is rather gourmet and may not suit every kids preference. Next stop was another winery called Philip Shaw Wines. $10 per head for tastings and a great space for the kids to run around and play soccer (complete with goals set up).

Philip Shaw Wines

Philip Shaw Wines

Philip Shaw Wines

Space for the kids to run and play soccer

Philip Shaw Wines

Cute cottages to explore

One more stop before leaving the lovely town of Orange and that was to visit the Botanic Gardens and let the kids have a run around the amazing Orange Adventure Playground. Of course I had another reason for visiting the Botanic Gardens and that was to see the little cottage called Emmaville. I had seen a documentary on the saving of this little cottage that has connections to Banjo Patterson and I just had to see it for myself. It was as cute as I imagined and conveniently right next to the playground.

Emmaville Orange


Orange Adventure Playground

Orange Adventure Playground

Our final stop before home was the Lithgow Workies Club! One of the only places open late on a Monday night and great value for money. The kids loved the kids menu, especially because it was simple food that they knew.  Then it was homeward bound, happy and smiling after a great Sydney escape.


This post about our weekend escape to Dubbo and surrounds has been sponsored by our newest partners, Spriggy! So far we have really enjoyed using Spriggy with Bailee and teaching her the art of saving and spending her travel money. As a parent it is great to give your child some freedom with their money and still be in control in the back ground. For more information simply click the image below and stay tuned to see where we use Spriggy next.

Spriggy Visa

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*Affiliate Links – does include affiliate links. This means that, at no extra cost to you, I will receive a small payment for referring you to a product or service. I only refer my readers to products and services that I recommend or have used before.

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#WesternPlainszoo #Dubbo #Mudgee #Sydneyweekendescape #Orange #Travelmoney #Spriggy

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