You may have noticed that the title of this series is “Blue Mountains Odyssey”, and that we have not been to the Blue Mountains thus far. Don’t worry – tomorrow is the day. When we started planning this trip, it seemed like a good idea to do a round trip and take the opportunity to visit Dubbo – home to Taronga Western Plains Zoo. Everyone I know who’s ever visited has told me how wonderful it is. They were correct. https://taronga.org.au/taronga-western-plains-zoo
For those who’ve been to Werribee Zoo west of Melbourne, the animal variety is similar, mainly african. The two zoos are really worlds apart though in may aspects. Dubbo is MUCH bigger and offers a number of different ways to experience it – walk, drive your own car, hire a bike, or hire a golf buggy. It was quite busy but lovely to see so many families out enjoying nature on a perfect winter’s day.
As we are Friends of the Zoo members in Victoria, entry was free – bonus!
Our first stop was to the meerkats – always a favourite, watching them scurry around while the lone meerkat stands sentry.
As you can probably imagine, I was in photo heaven here. So many opportunities! Too many to possibly capture. Instead of posting lots of photos individually, I’ll add a few collages of my favourites to this post. I think you can click on individual images if you want to see them in more detail.
The giraffes deserve an honourable mention. The paddocks at Dubbo are smaller than the huge open space at Werribee Zoo but there is still plenty of space for a herd. I love the grace with which giraffes carry themselves, no mean feet when you’re all legs and neck.
The next favourites was the hippos. Adam and I had managed to lose the other 3 at this point. The hippo pens were nice and big, with generous pools for them to wallow in. All were on land today though. I swear, the first one we came across was asleep on his feet, with his nose resting on the ground. In the pen next to him were 2 smaller adults (guessing females) and a tiny baby who looked a bit like a boulder. He never strayed far from the safety of mum’s side.
We caught up together as a family once more and continued on our way. The Sumatran tiger was definitely one of the highlights of the day. Most of the time I have seen the tigers at Melbourne Zoo they are either asleep far from the viewing area, or pacing too fast to get a decent photo. Today though, this guy was putting on a real show. It seemed there was something in the water (a ball) he wanted badly, but was reluctant to get wet enough to retrieve. He paced up and down along the water’s edge, occasionally going in further, and hissing at the ball. Such a magnificent creature – sadly endangered – mostly due to habitat loss. Unsustainable palm oil production is one of the main culprits and we can all do a bit more in our day to day lives to help out. (Download Palm Oil Scanner app if you want to check your groceries).
A visit to the zoo wouldn’t be complete without seeing the elephants. Dubbo has quite a large group of Asian elephants and as with so many of the endangered species, is actively involved with other zoos in breeding programs, as well as awareness raising campaigns to help these animals out.
The day was starting to move on by now and we were nearly at the end of the zoo. The final stop was the Asian Rainforest exhibit. As we left the car and walked towards a lake, we could see a large crowd and hear a great commotion. It turned out to be a couple of Siamangs who were hooting, yelling and putting on a show. It was the perfect way to finish off the day and these two chatacters had everyone in stitches with their antics. It seems fair to say they have a wonderful life at this zoo.
It was time to farewell the animals and head back to camp.
Dinner tonight was a shepherds pie cooked in the camp oven. It wasn’t pretty, but it was delicious and nutritious – very welcome after eating too much “convenience food” while on the road.
Time to sign off for tonight – early start tomorrow – pack up camp and we are finally off to the Blue Mountains!!