I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published June 4th 2012
Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo is known for the big, open areas that its animals enjoy. But what does all this space mean for visitors? How should we get round this huge zoo? Well, there are four methods to choose from: car, cart, bike or your own two feet. I tried cycling on my recent trip and I have to recommend this method.
Hiring a basic push bike costs $15 for four hours. If you have kids, you also have the option of hiring a Bike 'n Tow for $25, a Bike 'n Caboose for $29 or a Child Seat for $5. Walking may cost less but I think it's a bit unrealistic; I certainly didn't see anyone attempt it on my visit. Driving means you have to get in and out of a car too much, or you stay inside and drive by the enclosures. For me, cycling wins hands down.
The Lemurs being fed. These animals are right next to the entrance and you don't even need to enter the zoo to watch them.
To give you an idea about how much cycling you will do should you choose this option, the main road around the zoo is six kilometres long. Most exhibits are near the road but sometimes you will need to take a detour onto a network of tracks where there will usually be a number of enclosures together. At first I was hesitant about trying to cycle such a distance, but then I accepted that far less effort was involved than if I was trying to walk that far. And while the first half of the route is on a slight incline, the rest is pretty flat and on long stretches (without any animals), you can just coast along without pedalling, especially near the end of the route.
The Greater One-Horned Rhino is one animal you will find off the main road.
The best thing about riding a bike around the zoo (apart from the exercise) is the fact that you can get right up close to the enclosures. A lot of the time you don't even feel separated from the animals because the fences are in ditches which aren't visible till you're almost on top of them. On the other hand, sometimes it's difficult to see the animals in the larger enclosures and there are fewer than at Taronga Zoo in Sydney. For example, you don't get the crowd favourite seals and chimps. But you do get the rare Przewalski's Horses. Personally, I think Taronga Western Plains Zoo is pretty amazing and the standout animals for me were the otters and the elephants.
As you cycle around the zoo I recommend making sure you have a map accessible, especially when you have to keep track of which way you entered the network of tracks in the centre of the park. Also consider how you will carry everything while riding the bike and remember to include water and food in your bag. There are places to stop and eat along the route, as well as taps to fill up your bottle, but there are sometimes substantial distances between these spots.
Another thing to keep in mind is that tickets to Taronga Western Plains Zoo are valid for two days.
Where:Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Obley Road, Dubbo, New South Wales, 2830
Cost:Admission to the Zoo is as follows: Adults $46, Children (4-15 years) $23, Seniors $32.50, Pensioners $32.50, Students $32.50, Family: adult $39.10, child $19.55 (minimum of three guests visiting). Bikes are extra cost.