FAMILY VACATION WITH TEENS
Bella Tipping Kidzcationz.com - Australia
Iget lots of requests from people wanting me to share a little about where I live and some of the wildlife found in Australia. I live in an inland city called Dubbo; located in the heart of New South Wales, Australia. Many people think of Sydney or Melbourne when they think of Australia, but a trip over the Blue Mountains will open your world to all kinds of culture, changing landscapes and good old-fashioned country hospitality. Like most people, I sometimes take my hometown for granted, but I love living here. Dubbo is a 5-hour drive from Sydney and for people traveling from Melbourne to Brisbane; Dubbo is considered the halfway point and a popular stopover. There are loads of accommodation options in Dubbo from 5 Star glamping, hotels and self-contained accommodation to B&B, cabins and campsites. We may be rural, but Dubbo has every comfort you will need. It gets hot in this part of NSW, but it is a dry heat so it isn’t too bad. I remember a recent summer where the thermometer reached 47 degrees Celsius (which in the US is about 116 degrees Fahrenheit). However, there are all sorts of places to cool down; from the local river to the water park and the pools and water-slides at the Dubbo Aquatic Centre. Without a doubt, Dubbo’s major attraction is the Taronga Western Plains Zoo. This is an open style zoo with large exhibits of animals from all around the world. The zoo has a 6 km circuit; you can drive your own car, walk, hire a bike, or my favorite thing is to hire one of the zebra striped electric safari carts. I really recommend feeding the giraffe and the adorable meerkats. Kids are amazed when a giraffe bends right down to take a carrot straight out of your hand and the slobber they leave behind! Well that’s just them saying thank you! There are lots of other animal encounter options, so make sure you check the board for details and feeding times at the information counter. There is so much to see at the zoo. There are restaurant dining options available, or you can also take advantage of the BBQ areas all around the zoo. Watch the birds though, they have been known to sample food from the unsuspecting. The kid’s playground is really fun and caters to all ages. It even has a flying fox! If you feel like doing a Roar and Snore, there are 3 different ones to chose from. The Billabong camp is located near the Australian Animal enclosure and is a campsite with permanent tents; great for people wanting a night under the stars. At the Billabong camp, everyone comes together for dinner, then it’s off for a nighttime animal encounter by torchlight. So much fun… and a little spooky! There are also the self contained Savannah Cabins at the top of the range is the amazing Zoofari Lodge which is glamping at its very best. Dining at Main House at the Zoofari Lodge, is a real treat. You are served all kinds of exotic dishes in an African style banquet. The Zoofari Lodge is just like being in Africa. I sat on my verandah and watched the sun set over the Savanna. It was so peaceful and the giraffe and zebra came right up to me. It’s amazing! Dubbo is also a blend of cultures. You can sit back and enjoy a picnic at the tranquil Shoyoen Garden in the Dubbo Botanic Gardens or take in a cultural tour with a traditional owner of the land and hear the story of the Tubba-gah people of the Wiradjuri nation. The Uncles are very patient with kids and want you to learn as much as you can about their culture - so make sure you ask lots of questions.
When people come to the country, they often remark that the sky seems so big and full of stars. This is because we have such open plains. The Dubbo Observatory can take you one step closer and make you realize just how small our world is. The Old Dubbo Goal is located in the heart of town and it is so amazing to walk through the huge gates and step back in time. You will hear the stories of the condemned men and learn more about the harsh penalties paid for crimes that we now would consider quite minor. Kids will love the interactive displays and some of them come on when you least expect it and creep you right out! You can see the gallows and have a go at the stockade, and for the really brave..., come back at night and do the Ghost Tour! The Dubbo Cultural Centre museum will take you back to the days of the early settlers and showcases artifacts and memorabilia from decades past. Wellington is located just southeast of Dubbo and is home to the Burrendong Dam - a popular spot for year-round fishing, waterskiing, bushwalking and camping. The kids can have fun on the water-slide or the park and there is even a Skate Park to keep you entertained. Accommodation options at Burrendong Dam include cabins and campsites and you can bring your pet with you! Wellington also has the most amazing caves full of stalagmites, stalactites, columns and beautiful coral, and even has mega fauna bones! My favorite cave is the Cathedral cave with its 15-metretall “Altar.” Walking in the caves is amazing - they are huge and the guides are so informative. The caves were first explored by candlelight and when you see them with the luxury of electricity, you can only imagine how scary and dangerous it was for the early explorers. A word of advice - If you are doing a cave tour, wear comfy shoes and take a long-sleeved top because it gets cold under ground. I know when we travel overseas, my dad likes to find out as much as he can about the area he is driving, so he knows the risks. So just to help out future visitors to our area, when you are driving on country roads, avoid early morning and late afternoon if you can; these are the times when kangaroos are most active and are often found grazing near the roads. If you are heading out west, you will see lots of kangaroos and the odd emu. In the drier months, you may also see drovers herding their sheep and cattle along the road. If you are traveling by car, stop at the roadside stalls selling fresh local fruit and vegetables - nothing tastes as good as fresh locally grown products. Out west you will find all kinds of native wildlife; kookaburras, white cockatoos, galahs, kangaroos, emu’s and even a wombat if you’re lucky, so bring your camera. If you head further west to the Macquarie Marshes, the bird life and sunset shots will take your breath away! I really hope you get the time to visit my backyard and explpore all the amazing places Dubbo and the Central West has to offer. So when you visit Australia, enjoy all the cities and try to make time to experience the hidden gems found in rural and regional NSW; you won’t be disappointed. DTM
These are amazing flower gelato cones from I-Creamy in Sydney