Up close and personal at the Werribee Zoo

Up close and personal at the Werribee Zoo

When: 9am – 5pm (entry gates close at 3.30pm) every day of the year

Where:  If you are driving, from the Princes Fwy take the exit for Werribee South to K Road, click here for more information about public transport options and a map.

What:  A perfect outing for a half or full day – the zoo combines walking jungle paths, animal viewing windows and the fabulous safari tour.  From toddlers to adults there are plenty of things to stop and engage with during your visit.  We loved the new gorilla enclosure.  For more general information about the Werribee Open Range Zoo  click here.

Cost:  Zoo members FREE, child 4-15 years $12.60, adult $25.40, click here for full concession listing.  Entrance includes the safari tour.

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It’s been just over a year since we last visited Werribee Zoo and there have been a few changes –

  • there is a new gorilla enclosure (the boys look to be enjoying their new home and outlook)
  • the addition of the gorilla’s now gives visitors a greater reason to walk the full circuit of the Pula Reserve Trail, parts of which have been re-landscaped
  • a new bus station provides much more space (and cover) for those waiting, toilet facilities and an added bonus (for me anyway) is you don’t have to walk directly passed the cafe on the way thus (potentially) avoiding conversations like “mum can we have an ice-cream”
  • the new open air bus is still in its trial phase – if you are a Zoo member there are opportunities to be part of this trial period.  When the trials are complete these buses will pull two carriages and will also include padding on their safety bars.. Here’s hoping they also add heating to the seats – by the end of our 40 minutes I was beginning to feel a little chilly, well it was a crisp autumn morning.  So dress appropriately – especially considering the rhino decided he didn’t like the look of the new bus the day we visited, which was quite exciting for us as he had his tusk pressing against the front tyre for some time.. naturally I was wondering what the management plan might be for a punctured tyre and angry rhino, but I suspect tusks aren’t strong enough to puncture tyres that size – and even if they could I am sure the bus still can be driven even with a puncture!

We made our visit on a morning during the week in school term and enjoyed having the zoo almost to ourselves.  Other than the hippos all the animals were out and about and in no hurry for us to go.  I guess I have no expectation that wild animals should have any agenda to interact with me (other than to possibly eat me or keep me away from their young) but the enclosures and viewing areas feel so natural that sometimes you have to wonder who exactly is the exhibit! (If that is even the politically correct terminology.)

This was my 5th visit to the Werribee Open Range Zoo and I can’t fault it.  While our kids are still young it’s a perfect half day trip – we do an hour or so of following the walking trails and visiting lions, monkeys, wild dogs, gorillas and so on and the 40 minute safari tour allows us to not only see the animals living more naturally – but the guides are informative and each time it’s a different experience.  (This time the feisty rhino, last time the rhino had a bowel movement that my then 2 year old is still talking about, and the time before we saw an antelope being born.)

I can’t wait for the kids to be a little bit older – the wild encounters* and slumber safari (aka glamping) sound like heaps of fun.  And of course it would be easy to spend a full day at the zoo taking time to stop and explore all the different areas, I know there are two walking trails I am still yet to do.

*There is a wild encounter option for the five and unders – but, for example, if you want to get up close and personal with a lion you need to be 8 or older.  There is also no age limit restriction on the slumber safari, but at $245/child I’d personally want my child to be old enough to remember it.