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Royal fever strikes Dubbo, Fraser Island as Prince Harry and Meghan announce tour

Jessie Davies and Kallee Buchanan, Tuesday September 11, 2018 - 13:20 EST
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With royals popular in the newsagent's fare, Lee Judd is thrilled Dubbo is hosting another visit. - ABC

The streets of Dubbo are abuzz as news circulates the young royals Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are visiting in October.

As punters emerged at dawn to pick up their daily newspapers, Newsextra on Macquarie assistant manager Lee Judd said the air was electric.

"From 6:00am I've had mostly men from the older generation come in, and every single one has said 'Have you heard the news? Meghan Markle is coming to town'," she said.

"Nothing about Harry, it's all about Meghan."



Other regional cities vied for a royal visit, but drought-parched Dubbo on the Western Plains region of New South Wales won the day.

Their visit will take place on October 17.

"Out here we're overshadowed by the capital cities, so I think it's really good they are coming out to see us," said local woman Brianna Duncan.



The jubilant mayor of the Dubbo region, Ben Shields, described Dubbo as "in the middle of everywhere" and said his council would make every effort to make the visit memorable for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

He had been sitting on the secret for about 10 days.

"Yes, we're doing it tough here at the moment with the drought, but there are so many things we can show off," he said.

Dubbo locals were quick to offer an itinerary for the royal couple's day trip.



The Old Dubbo Gaol and Taronga Western Plains Zoo were hot tips, but Ms Duncan urged the couple to veer off the beaten track.



"I hope they get out and see a few of the smaller towns too, maybe Wellington or Gilgandra. Either way it will be good for all of us," she said.

Newsagent Lee Judd agreed.

"Everybody goes to the zoo and goes to the gaol, but there is so much more to the region and I think they need to get out and meet the people," she said.

"There are some great characters here."

Royals favour Fraser Island

The only other regional stop on the royal's trip Down Under will be to Fraser Island in Queensland.



There the Duke and Duchess will partake in a Commonwealth-wide initiative to preserve forests.

Fraser Coast mayor George Seymour said it was exciting for the region to receive its second royal visit in less than a year.

"It'll be a great opportunity to welcome them here and to show them what a fantastic location it is," he said.

" he declared the site part of the Commonwealth Canopy program and now they're coming here to look at it.

"It's really exciting to have this international recognition for what a pristine natural environment Fraser Island is."



Off the state's southern coast, UNESCO world-heritage listed Fraser Island is the world's largest sand island and receives about 800,000 visitors annually.

Last year, the national park covering most of the island was changed from the Great Sandy National Park to K'gari, which means 'paradise' in traditional language, after a campaign by indigenous owners.

The Butchulla people want the entire island renamed in a similar arrangement to Uluru-Ayers Rock.



While not a monarchist himself, Cr Seymour said there was a lot of support for the royal family in the region.

"I think whether somebody is a republican or monarchist, they can still appreciate Prince Charles' commitment to the environment and their interest in the region," he said.

"Fraser Island is the only place in the world where you have rainforests growing over 200 metres high on sand, so it's a really unique natural environment.

"We'll certainly be giving them gifts that reflect the diversity and extraordinary cultural and environmental aspects of our region."


- ABC

© ABC 2018

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