If you live in Australia, there’s no running away from awesome zoos, the country has to offer and Australia has nearly 50!
There are 8 zoos in New South Wales and I was lucky to visit one of the biggest zoos recently – Taronga Western Plains Zoo
Taronga Western Plains Zoo or the Dubbo Zoo is the biggest attraction of this regional town in New South Wales with a population of 40,000+ (source:dubbo.com.au)
Spread over 741 acres, the open range zoo is home to 100 species and 850 animals, habituated with care and well represented by their zoo keepers. You can also sponsor individual animals here. Dubbo is a perfect weekend getaway to admire one of Australia’s massively popular zoo since 1977, which was even visited by Queen Elizabeth II in 1992.
The zoo has been built on a former army camp site during World War II, and constructed pretty much like a jungle safari. An approximate five hour drive from Sydney, it is recommended to visit Dubbo for at least two days.
It was an uncanny coincidence that I had seen the movie Zootopia just a couple of days before visiting Dubbo and couldn’t help but think about it while being wowed by the animal wonders.
How to reach Dubbo
Dubbo is well connected by road, air and rail network. Read all information here
You can event hire a car from Hertz or Avis
How to get around
There are many options like driving around in your car on a 6-km one way circuit, electric safari cart, bike rental or on foot. If you are with family I recommend taking the electric cart, as being on foot will nearly take 4-5 hours and you may even miss some important keeper talks. We hired bikes at the zoo for $15 each, which was thoroughly enjoyable and proved to be a good cardio workout. We covered the entire zoo in nearly 3 hours besides a 30-minute stopover for lunch. We carried our own food, which saved us time at the cafe which was busy due to the school holiday rush.
We were interested in taking an electric cart, but all were hired by the time. So if you really want to hire a cart for your family, get there as soon as the zoo opens. Read information here
Taronga tickets are over $40, you can save further by booking them online here . Sites like Cudo and Groupon also run offers where you can get discounts upto 30%
There are plenty of eating options like Bakhita’s Cafe which offers burgers, sandwiches, sausages, pies and more. During school holidays and long weekends, always expect a packed cafe, so I suggest carrying some home cooked food, biscuits etc and water, of course.
Here are some of my favourite snapshots, for me the absolute highlight was not the tiger, hippopotamus and rhinocerous, it was the Galapagos Tortoise, which reminded me of the komodo dragons found in Indonesia. The Galapagos Tortoise were friendly with the visitors petting them.
Hippopotamus from Africa
Taronga Western Plains Zoo has five Hippos in total which are part of the regional breeding program.
Found on the Galapagos Island in the Pacific Ocean, these herbivores are the largest tortoises in the world. They eat approx. 35 kgs per day and their diet is mainly cactus fruit and vegetation; they can even go without food for nearly 12 months, by slowing down their metabolism. Being slow moving, they move at 0.25kilometres per hour. Taronga Western Plains Zoo was successful in breeding Australasia’s first Galapagos Tortoise in 2011. Read more here
Get all information about Taronga Western Plains Zoo here
Open: 9am to 4pm everyday
Honey & wine shopping in Mudgee
About 128 km drive from Dubbo, Mudgee is a must stop over enroute Sydney. After all, its called the land of wine and honey. With a population of 9000+ , Mudgee locals are primarly involved in farming, wine production and mining.
We stopped by Mudgee Honey Haven gift shop, a landmark location if you want to shop honey and other collectibles. Greeted by their lovely staff, we sampled countless varieties of honey like ginger honey, lemon honey, cinnamon honey to name a few. Also available are local jams, relishes, olive oil…definitely recommended.
Mead or honey wine is another popular buy here. An interesting trivia about Mead: it was the accepted practice 4000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the brides father would supply with all the mead he could drink. Because the calendar was lunar based, this was called the honey month or what we know today as the honeymoon. It was thought that if mead was consumed for a month after a wedding, then the first child born to the couple would be male!
You can taste different types of mead or honey wine
2 Hill End Road Mudgee NSW 2100 Australia
To know more visit their website www.mudgeehoneyhaven.com.au
Our next stop was Burnbrae Winery and Vineyard
Founded in 1968 Burnbrae Winery and Vineyard is another Mudgee icon and pit stop for travellers and locals alike. Shopping and tasting handcrafted wines is just what we were looking for We bought their award winning vintage Shiraz 2014.
Burnbrae vintage Shiraz 2014
Open: everyday from 10am to 4pm
Burnbrae Vineyard and Winery
ABN 30 323 868 572
548 Hill End Road,
Mudgee NSW 2850
To know visit their website: www.burnbraewines.com.au
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