Packed-out Dubbo set to sparkle in the royal spotlight
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). ”