Dubbo is a city in the Orana Region of New South Wales, Australia. It is the largest population centre in the Orana region, with a population of 32,327 and serves an estimated catchment of 130,000.
It is located at the intersection of the Mitchell, Newell and Golden highways. Dubbo is located approximately above sea level, north-west of the state capital Sydney ( by road) and is a major road and rail freight hub to other parts of New South Wales. Dubbo is considered the cross-roads of New South Wales. It is linked by national highways north to Brisbane, south to Melbourne, east to Sydney and Newcastle, and west to Broken Hill and Adelaide.
Dubbo is included in the rainfall records and weather forecast region for the Central West Slopes and in the Central West Slopes and Plains division of the Bureau of Meteorology forecasts.
Evidence of habitation by Indigenous Australians dates back approximately 40,000 years.
The explorer, John Oxley, was the first European to report on the area now known as Dubbo in 1818. The first permanent European settler in the area was Robert Dulhunty, described as one of the wealthiest citizens in the Australian colony at the time. There are records of squatters being given permission to set up large sheep and cattle stations in the area in 1824 but these were not maintained. Dulhunty occupied a property, known as Dubbo station (established in 1828), from the early 1830s on a squatting basis. With the passing of the Squatting Act in 1836 he took out a licence on the property.
Dulhunty showed an affinity with Indigenous Australians, his party included some 40 Aborigines and he favoured using Aboriginal names for properties, including Dubbo. Dubbo is now thought to be a mispronunciation of the local Wiradjuri word "Thubbo" but because of a lack of precise records from Dulhunty at the time and an incomplete knowledge of the Wiradjuri language today there is some conjecture over the word's meaning. A popular current theory is the word means "red earth," consistent with the local landscape. It is also possible that Thubbo or Tubbo is Wiradjuri for "head covering" – a theory put forward to support this name is that the shape of Dulhunty's house may have looked like a hat to the local people.
Dundullimal Homestead is a farmhouse from that period, built around 1840 by John Maugham on his sheep station. The building is one of the oldest homesteads still standing in western NSW and today is open to visitors.
In 1846, due to the number of settlers in the area, the government decided to establish a courthouse, police station and lock-up in the Dubbo area. A constables residence was completed in 1847 and a wooden slab construction courthouse and lock-up in early 1848. By this time, the settlement had only four buildings; the constables residence, courthouse and lock-up, a store and an inn.
Due to the lack of title for the land, in 1848 the storekeeper, Jean Emile Serisier, organised a petition asking for a land sale of town allotments. The plan was presented to the colony's Surveyor General in May 1849 by surveyor G. Boyle White. The settlement was gazetted as a village in November 1849 with the first land sales taking place in 1850. Population growth was slow until the Victorian gold rush of the 1860s brought an increase in north-south trade. The first bank was opened in 1867. Steady population growth saw the town proclaimed a municipality in 1872, when its population was 850. The railway extension of the main western railway from Wellington to Dubbo was formally opened on 1 February 1881. By 1897, Dubbo had a general store, Carrier Arms, a slab courthouse, a gaol and a police hut. The final section of the Molong to Dubbo railway opened in late May 1925.
Dubbo was officially proclaimed a city in 1966.