A luxury safari experience, award-winning wines and even fishing –  it's hard to believe you are actually in rural Australia.

Stay at Zoofari Lodge

There can be few more relaxing and luxurious ways to be a conservation crusader than residing overnight at Zoofari Lodge on the edge of a wide savannah, where giraffe, zebra, eland and kangaroos frolic and graze. The retreat offers 15 private canvas-walled, iron-roofed lodges with African-inspired décor and artwork. Animals mosey to within metres of the private deck. As well as access to the entire zoo, the Zoofari experience includes guided behind-the-scenes mini-bus and walking tours, bike hire and an authentic African meal. Children are welcome. 

Old Dubbo Jail

Live dangerously with a visit to the completely restored Old Dubbo Jail, which housed murderers, thieves, bushrangers and other miscreants from 1847 until its doors clanked closed as a penal institution in 1966. Informed “guards” and animatronic and holographic displays reveal the barbaric conditions at the jail, where eight men were executed, including Jacky Underwood for his part in the Breelong Massacres. Visitors can spend time in the cells and imagine the condemned men’s harrowing walk up the steps of the gallows in the jail year. If you’re especially brave you can take a Twilight Tour or an evening Graveyard Tour among the final resting places of the prisoners. 

Western Plains Cultural Centre

The Western Plains Cultural Centre hosts the Dubbo Regional Gallery Art Collection and the Dubbo Regional Museum Heritage Collection. The gallery displays the works of local artists and fittingly — since if you listen hard you may hear the roars of the big cats at Taronga Western Plains Zoo a few kilometres away — the collection celebrates animals in art. The Museum Collection contains personal, agricultural and technological objects that reflect the history of Dubbo over 170 years. 

Dundullimal Homestead

Step back to the pioneer days at this National Trust circa-1840 rural property in near-original condition just 7km south of Dubbo. Once the head station of a 6,500ha squatting run, it’s as if the original inhabitants had just walked out the back door, leaving the corrugated iron-roofed homestead to be savoured by modern-day visitors. Outside the house, there are sandstone stables, a coach room and a blacksmith’s forge, while ducks and chickens run freely through the 4ha grounds. Dundullimal Homestead reflects the practical yet essential elements of rural life on a large, isolated property during the nineteenth century. 

Red Earth Estate Winery

Wind down after exploring Dubbo and the zoo with a visit to Ken and Christine Borchardt’s Red Earth Estate Winery and sample the award-winner’s range of hand-crafted rieslings, verdelhos, moscatos, shiraz grenaches, and cabernet sauvignons. At the cellar door, Ken is happy to chat to visitors about the Red Earth way of making wines on site with fruit from the estate’s vineyard and the central ranges. There’s also a free campsite for self-contained caravans and motor homes. 

Fishing the Macquarie Trail

The Macquarie River at Dubbo is part of the recently launched Macquarie River Fishing Trail. Here, and in the neighbouring reaches of the river, anglers will find a variety of river environments and sustainable fishing challenges. Abounding in the Macquarie are Murray cod (which can grow to 100kg and 1.8m but are more likely to be 5kg in these waters), golden perch, trout cod and silver perch. Be sure you have a fishing licence and before you cast a line acquaint yourself with the rules and regulations regarding the catching of these fish at local tackle and bait stores. 

Photography by Julian Kingma

SEE ALSO: All our New South Wales travel tips and features

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