Packed-out Dubbo set to sparkle in the royal spot­light

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - SAM BUCK­ING­HAM-JONES

When the Duke and Duchess of Sus­sex ar­rive in the cen­tral NSW town of Dubbo on Wed­nes­day, they will be glad they booked ahead: the en­tire town is ex­pected to be packed out.

And when they climb the Syd­ney Har­bour Bridge two days later with Scott Mor­ri­son, they will be stand­ing along­side a Prime Min­is­ter who yes­ter­day de­clared him­self a con­sti­tu­tional monar­chist, high­light­ing a dif­fer­ence with his pre­de­ces­sor, Mal­colm Turnbull.

For Ben Shields, Dubbo’s Mayor, it is not surprising. “All roads lead to Dubbo,” he said. “We’re the ser­vice point for 150,000 peo­ple in western NSW.”

The town has had royal vis­i­tors be­fore: Ed­ward, Prince of Wales in 1920, the Queen in 1954 and 1992, and Prince Ed­ward in 2006.

In 1988, the stage­coach pre­sented to the Queen was, Mr Shields said, built in Dubbo.

On Wed­nes­day, the royal cou­ple will ar­rive in the town of 38,000 peo­ple to visit the Royal Fly­ing Doc­tor Ser­vice, a droughtaf­fected farm, a lo­cal school and Vic­to­ria Park for a pic­nic.

Julie Web­ster, from the town’s Vis­i­tor In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre, said she had been get­ting calls from ev­ery di­rec­tion. “There’ve been a huge amount of in­quiries, peo­ple speaking with us about bring­ing buses from Tam­worth, Bathurst and Forbes. We’ve had a few in­quiries from Syd­ney, peo­ple who think they’ll have more chance of see­ing the cou­ple out here.”

The town has about 5000 ho­tel beds, most of which have been booked, but many vis­i­tors — es­ti­mates have been as high as 10,000 peo­ple for the pic­nic — likely won’t stay overnight, she said.

“Given the amount of ex­cite­ment, I think there could be closer to 15,000 peo­ple there.”

The royal cou­ple ar­rives in Aus­tralia on Mon­day, and their sched­ule be­gins on Tues­day morn­ing when they’ll visit the Gover­nor-Gen­eral, tour Taronga Zoo and open its In­sti­tute of Sci­ence and Learn­ing, see a per­for­mance by the Ban­garra Dance Com­pany and “meet the peo­ple” at the Opera House fore­court.

On Thurs­day, af­ter Dubbo, the royal duo will fly to Mel­bourne, where they’ll meet the pub­lic, at­tend an of­fi­cial re­cep­tion at Govern­ment House, visit a lo­cal cafe, see a lo­cal school and help clean up at a Port Phillip Bay beach. On Fri­day, they will visit Syd­ney’s Bondi Beach and meet surf­ing com­mu­nity group OneWave. The prince will then climb the Har­bour Bridge with Mr Mor­ri­son to raise the In­vic­tus Games flag.

Mr Mor­ri­son yes­ter­day made ref­er­ence to Mr Turnbull’s repub­li­can views, say­ing the pic­ture of the Queen was “back up in the PM’s of­fice … It was one of the things Mal­colm and I dis­agreed on, but look, I re­spect how all Aus­tralians feel on this,” he told Sky News.

“It’s not some­thing I go around beat­ing my chest about.

“It’s just I’ve got a lot of re­spect for the con­sti­tu­tional monarch … But I re­spect all Aus­tralians’ views on that and I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing (the roy­als). ”

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