130. Dubbo (NSW)

A visit to the Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo was a must-do. Now part of the great Taronga Zoo in Sydney (one of my favourite childhood haunts) it is very different from most zoos as it is set in several hectares of bushland with at least 6 km of winding surfaced road plus numerous cycle and walking tracks. The entry ticket covers two consecutive days!

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Visitors can drive their own cars or ride their bikes or hire a motorised golf buggy or special bicycles which cater for various family groups.  For example I saw one family of 5, mother was riding a bicycle pulling a baby buggy with the two little ones, the eldest child rode her own bike, and father was on a tandem with the second child riding behind him.

Although the number of different species was not as large as in a conventional zoo, the size of the herds was impressive. It was lovely to see the antelope and other African species including African wild dogs wandering at will, and also a herd of Przewalski horses – I’ve only ever seen one solitary Przewalski before and that was in Taronga many years ago.

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The primates – not a large selection but an interesting one – had their own special area with a number of  islands connected by monkey-style swing bridges. There were plenty of large trees on each island plus some little cubby houses.

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There was a huge tribe (now what is the correct collective noun?) of otters, absolutely delightful to watch but very difficult to photograph, and also meerkats.

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Meerkats always have one sentinel posted ….

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The larger animals included quite a number of hippos, rhinos, giraffes (including babies), zebras with varying stripes and 5 elephants plus about 8 Galapagos tortoises, three of them bred at the zoo. Throughout the day talks were given and the animals seemed eager to cooperate. The giraffes in particular – who could resist a nice piece of carrot (!).

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One of the hippos loved having the keeper scratch inside his mouth (very slimy!).

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The zoo has several endangered animal breeding programs including one for the rare white rhino (which isn’t white). There was one little baby …

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This is a Bongo – and apparently the males collect large harems.

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The solitary Bengal tiger was sulking the first day we visited – cold and rainy it was, and him without a mate … but he looked happier next day devouring his dinner.

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the Zoo has five elephants, one African (“Cuddles”) and four Indian. They do not mix so cuddles has been given a couple of camels as companions (there were several other African elephants originally).

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The grass is always greener …..

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I thought for a moment I was in NZ … this is NOT a pukeko it’s an Aussie swamp hen.

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Dubbo was also the place where we finally succumbed and bought some cosy winter PJs! We’ve been trying to keep our winter clothes to a minimum as we expect to spend most time in the warmer north. However I think the PJs may still be needed at night, I remember the night temperature at the Alice was rather low in April, and we will be in northern Qld in July-August.

A half-day’s drive through Parkes took us to Condobolin and then (after a false start, the GPSr had a hiccup) to Euabalong West, where we arrived just at dusk. Kangaroos were already in evidence and one hopped right in front of us but we saw it coming and slowed in time. Once at Euabalong West the question was – where were my friends? I had no idea! However, a quick question to one of the locals soon had us on our way.

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I’ve known Valda since schooldays and spent many happy school holidays on her and Jim’s parents’ properties. Here is a reminder of what I got up to at Jm’s …. the cow’s name by the way was Chloe. There, that’s now recorded for posterity!

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Dave cannot raise the WiFi on his Telstra wireless modem despite their claims to have the “best cover”. Hopefully I can post this and the previous blog at Condobolin but we will see.

Later: here we are in Condo having just had the best butternut pumpkin soup ever at a cafe called “Happy Daze”. I’m just about to post two blogs so am indeed happy.

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