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Routes to Dubbo, NSW – The best family road trip

Rather than making a beeline straight to the zoo, turn a gruelling Dubbo road trip drive into a relaxing road trip.

Stop in at some of New South Wales’ most unique regional towns on your way to Dubbo. To make things easy, we’ve mapped out a few of the best routes.

Sydney to Dubbo via Parkes road trip

Total drive time: 6.5 hours

Highlights: Three Sisters, Bathurst 1000 track, The Dish

the beautiful blue mountains exploring with your family 2

Sydney to Katoomba – 1-2 hours (depending on where you’re starting)

See the city disappear in the rear-view mirror as you head for the Blue Mountains. Your very first stop will be one of the most well-known landmarks in Australia. The Three Sisters provide an awesome photo-op and a good excuse to stop for coffee before you really get stuck into your road trip.

Katoomba to Bathurst – 1.5 hours

Join the Great Western Highway and watch as the mountains level out and the landscape becomes flat, dominated by cattle stations and open fields. As you reach Bathurst, head straight for Mount Panorama and drive around the famous Bathurst 1000 track. Relax speed demons, speed limits do apply. If cars are your thing, check out the National Motor Racing Museum to see a few real-life race cars and learn about the history of the Bathurst 1000. You’ll find plenty of places to grab lunch in Bathurst. Annie’s Ice-Cream Parlour is a great spot to grab something sweet before you hit the road again.

Bathurst to Orange – 1 hour

The next stretch is pretty cruisey and shouldn’t take more than an hour. A nice stop and stretch your legs is the lake in Vittoria. On a calm day, the towering pine trees reflect on the water like a mirror and make for a great photo.

Once you’ve made it to Orange, you’ll probably be ready to call it a day. Plenty of motel accommodation is available in Orange but it’s worth checking out the private cottages and cabins a bit further out of town. Here are a few on Visitnsw.com.

Orange to Parkes – 1 hour

Enjoy a sleep in this morning and grab some breakky from Racine Bakery as you say goodbye to Orange en route to Parkes. Fans of Round the Twist will instantly recognise Parkes’ main attraction, the Dish. A lesser known event that brings thousands of visitors to Parkes every year is the annual Elvis Festival. But don’t worry if you miss the big event in January, the King’s Castle Elvis Exhibit should quench your thirst for all things Rock-n-Roll. Onnies café in the CBD has a killer lunch menu and the café at The Dish is pretty well known for its milkshakes. Wandering the Public Art Trail is a great way to walk off your lunch before jumping back in the car for the final stretch to Dubbo.

Parkes to Dubbo – 1.5 hours

You’re on the home stretch. Watch the Dish get smaller and smaller as you head north to Dubbo. You might need a quick toilet stop in Peak Hill or Tomingley but a few games of i-spy should have you at your final destination. Now you’ve got all afternoon to get acquainted with this charming regional town.

Sydney to Dubbo drive via Mudgee

Total drive time: 6.5 hours

Highlights: Mount Victoria, Mudgee wineries, Goonoo Forest

Mudgee growers market is definitely worth a look with a great range of local produce to buy
Mudgee growers market is definitely worth a look with a great range of local produce to buy

Sydney to Mount Victoria – 1.5-2 hours

Kids, snacks and car packed? You’re ready to hit the road. Head west toward the Blue Mountains, winding in and out of historic towns along A32. Take a quick snap at the Three Sisters before getting back on the road en route to Mount Victoria. Head to the Sunset Rock Lookout for an awesome view of the Blue Mountains.

Mount Victoria to Lithgow – 30 minutes

Watch the scenery go by as you continue towards Lithgow, famous among families for its Zig Zag railway. Unfortunately, the train is not currently operational but it is due to re-open this year! Check the website for updates.

After a bite to eat in town, you should be recharged to conquer the next stretch of your road trip.

Lithgow to Mudgee – 1.5 hours

B55 is lined with paddocks as far as the eye can see. This is the longest straight drive of the journey so be sure to stay focused. A few road trip games will keep your mind sharp. After a while, paddocks will be replaced with grapevines and you’ll know you’re not far away. Mudgee is a world-famous wine-growing region and the perfect mid-way point on a road trip to Dubbo. Toast to your good driving with a bottle of Mudgee’s finest (or just the house wine. It’s all pretty darn good). 

Mudgee to Dunedoo – 1 hour 15 minutes

Sleep in or get amongst the grapes this morning. The kids will love picking their own cherries at Roth Family Orchard. After you’ve stocked up un delicious local produce, it’s time to hit the road again. Heading north, you’ll pass through a few small country towns but if the little stomachs in the back start to rumble, see if they can hold on until Dunedoo. There’s a great bakery called ‘Chad’s’ and a nice park to sit and relax in.

Dunedoo to Dubbo – 1 hour 15 minutes

Just 100km lies between you and your final destination. This should only take an hour or so but it’s worth making a pit stop along the way and spending some time exploring Goonoo Forest. It’s a state conservation area so be sure to tread carefully and take all your rubbish with you. Don’t forget to wipe the mud off your shoes before jumping back in the car for the final stretch into Dubbo.

Drive Newcastle to Dubbo via Muswellbrook 

Total drive time: 6 hours 15 minutes

Highlights: Hunter Valley Wine Region, the Sacred Tree, Goulburn River National Park

Fresh grapes for the kids fortified grapes for the adults

Pokolbin to Muswellbrook – 1 hour

Make a pit stop in Singleton here to replenish your snack levels and continue on to Muswellbrook. There’s plenty of hotel & motel accommodation available in Muswellbrook but it’s always a good idea to call in advance to be sure there’s vacancy. Before the sun goes down, have a play at Simpson park and check out the Sacred Tree. It’s an important piece of Indigenous heritage in the Upper Hunter region.

Muswellbrook to Turill – 2 hours

A slightly longer drive ahead of you today, you’ll want to have a hearty breakfast to fuel you for the day. It’s worth grabbing some lunch supplies from the supermarket before you wave goodbye to Muswellbrook. After an hour and a half, you’ll exit B84 and follow the signs to Turill. This is where Goulburn River National Park begins to unfold. Enjoy a picnic lunch surrounded by nature before clambering back into the car for the next driving stretch.

Turill to Dunedoo – 1 hour

Another hour’s drive and you’ll pass through Dunedoo. Take this opportunity to use the loo and check out a few local shops. But don’t linger too long, you can almost see Dubbo on the horizon.

Dunedoo to Dubbo – 1 hour 15 minutes

The last stretch should take just over an hour. For most of your drive, you’ll follow Goonoo Forest, a Zone 3 Conservation Area. It’s a good excuse to test the kids’ knowledge of Australian wildlife by seeing how many native animals they can name. Before long, you’ll reach the outskirts of Dubbo and feel your eyes becoming weary. But stay up if you can, the night sky puts on a quite a show out in the country.

Canberra to Dubbo via Parkes route

Total drive time: 5.5 hours

Highlights: Fruit picking in Young, Lake Forbes, The Dish

The Dish in Parkes Photo Destination NSW
The Dish in Parkes Image: Destination NSW

Parkes to Dubbo – 1.5 hours

Jump on A39 and follow the signs to Dubbo. You’ll pass a few small country towns on the way if you need to make a toilet stop but before you know if, you’ll have Dub-Vegas in clear sight.

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