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Out of Africa - and Into Dubbo
KEA visited Toronga Western Plains Zoo and discovered it's not just for the grandkids
Words and Images by: KEA

Have you been to a zoo lately? That might sound a funny question, given that, if you go at all, zoos are often places for taking the grandchildren. Additionally, if you have ever had the privilege of visiting a game park in, say, southern Africa, then a local zoo visit might just appear a little tame. [Nice one!–Ed.] However, following a recent trip in mid-western NSW, and a snap decision to spend the day at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo, in Dubbo, we’d like to make a case for a zoo visit, specifically the open plains style.

First up, the important fact is that the Western Plains Zoo is RV Friendly. If you have a small motorhome like we did with our Britz Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (at  7.2m) then you can drive yourself around quite easily – the through roads are quite wide and there is plenty of parking. For larger motorhomes, there is a dedicated parking area for Recreational Vehicles, which contains, among other things, a free dump point.

After parking, you can either walk around, hire bikes or even travel by electric cart. If you have the time then we reckon walking is best and you don’t need to rush because your zoo ticket is valid for two days. We should point out that overnight RV stays within the zoo are not possible but there are a number of good caravan parks in nearby Dubbo or there are a few discrete overnight spots further out of town. Dubbo, of course, has a CMCA MSO.

A hot tip is to arrive when the gates open at 9am. The zoo has feeding times and Keeper Talks which start early in the morning and follow a logical progression around the zoo. These are recommended because not only do you get to see the animals up close when being fed, but the Keeper Talks are sometimes entertaining and always informative. Like many progressive zoos around the world, Taronga’s Western  Plains has shifted heavily from focusing on the entertainment factor to a more appropriate conservation, protection and education theme.

An asset of the Western Plains set up is that the animals have room to wander, which might sometimes put them in the  middle distance for observers but, as noted above, feeding times are good to follow. At the giraffe feeding time, KEA Tracks was highly amused after standing near the enclosure watching the giraffes, well, not doing much. When the sound of the approaching keeper’s quad bike full of food was detected by sharp ears, things changed very rapidly and made for some good photos.

If you choose to walk around, then follow a few basic rules: take a hat, water bottle and a small backpack. There are picnic areas and amenities blocks in appropriate places, so you won’t be stranded far from civilisation. Additionally, a small pair of binoculars is definitely handy to have as is camera with a zoom lens. 

We should point out that if a visit to the Western Plains Zoo gives you a taste for something a bit wilder, specifically African safari orientated, then KEA has several motorhome rental branches in Southern Africa. See or

Tags: Dubbo NSW New South Wales Zoo Animals Fauna RV Friendly Mercedes Benz Sprinter Campervan Caravan RV Motorhome Bikes Animals MSO Member Stop Over
Category: Features
Written: Tue 01 Dec 2015
Printed: December, 2015
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