Gayle Beveridge is a past winner of the Boroondara Literary Awards and her work has appeared in Award Winning Australian Writing. Gayle is passionate about family, writing, photography, and with Victoria’s beautiful Bass Coast which she now calls home.
Published September 19th 2021
Take a Zoo-Fari right here in NSW
When we arrived at Altina Wildlife Park, an emu was wandering the grounds and seemed attracted to car lights. It wandered to nearly every vehicle in the car park and pecked at the rear lights and as it had a sharp beak and large claws, we all let it peck. This was an unexpected encounter to start our day, and a bonus to the many reasons to visit Altina.
1. Take the Zoo-Fari Cart Tour. This is a zoo with a bit of a difference; visitors cannot wander about by themselves. The guided tour which lasts for around two and a half hours is the only way to see the animals. Altina calls it a zoo-fari. Visitors are taken in either a horse-drawn or a motorised cart, to see the animals during their feeding times.
First, we are taken to see crocodiles and alligators and watch them feed. Altina runs breeding programs and we were treated to a viewing of not only mature animals but their frisky young. Our guide hopped into the meerkat enclosure and enticed four of these popular characters from their log with titbits.
At the marmoset monkey enclosure, two of these tiny animals climbed high onto a wire and peed over an unfortunate visitor, oh dear! Marking their territory, we were told and no extra charge for the experience. Tasmanian devils were drawn from their den and we got to see them up close. These animals are part of Australia's disease-free reserves in case the face cancers infesting the wild population wipe them out.
2. Ride in a Horse Drawn Wagon. Our tour continued aboard a horse-drawn cart, pulled for two and a half hours by a horse. The cart stopped at each exhibit and our guides told us a bit about them. A feeding truck preceded us and fed the animals as we progressed, to draw them close.
There is a family of white lions here, they are not albinos but are white because of a recessive gene. The feeder drew the lioness to the wire and she rose on her haunches to take the food, disgustingly smelly chicken heads. The African wild dogs went into a frenzy when food was thrown to them, a frightening sight.
We saw Fallow deer from Europe and Asia, Barbary sheep from Northern Africa, Rusa deer from Asia, Hog deer from India and Pakistan, buffalo, zebra, ostrich and hyena. Then there were camels, bison, Przewalskii Horses from China and Mongolia, and all the while our guide and the signs on the enclosures kept us well-informed.
I know I have missed a lot from my list, there were too many to remember. Click here for a full list of Altina's animals and interesting facts about them. The Zoo-Fari includes a light morning or afternoon tea. Click here for more details, pricing and to request a booking.
Wildlife Encounters. Our time there was limited and such a shame as they offer a number of behind-the-scenes wildlife encounters, allowing visitors to get close to their chosen animals and to feed them. In the Radical Rino Encounter, you can feed and pat the rhino and chat with the keepers.
Feed the lions and watch them tuck into your offerings in the Beasts Feast Encounter. The Fierce Four Encounter get you a close up look at hyenas, African wild dogs, African lions and maned wolves. Hand feed a giraffe and get close to zebras in the Giant Meets Stripes Encounter. You actually get to mingle with the cutest of creatures in the Meerkat Mayhem Encounter and get hands-on with some monkeys in the Monkey Madness Encounter.
Getting There, Accommodation and Visitor Information Altina Wildlife Park is at 14432 Sturt Highway, Darlington Point. They can be contacted on 412 060 342 or click here to visit their website. Bookings are essential and can be made through the website.
Darlington Point is 34 kilometres south of Giffith, almost 400 kilometres from Canberra via Wagga Wagga, 442 kilometres from Dubbo or 612 kilometres from Sydney. We had travelled up from Melbourne as part of a longer road trip, a journey of around 435 kilometres. Travel options – flight, rail or road, are detailed on the Murrumbidgee Council tourism page on their website.
If you want to make it a long weekend, there is accommodation available in both Griffith and Darlington Point. We stayed at the Darlington Point Riverside Caravan and Tourist Park, at Kidman Way, Darlington Point, a relaxing place where I took more than one peaceful walk along the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. They can be contacted on 0447 639 442 or click here to visit their website. For other places to stay click here to visit the Darlington Point accommodation page of the Murrumbidgee Council website.
For additional information about Darlington Point and surrounding areas, click here to visit the Murrumbidgee Council Tourism website.