Jenolan Caves to Brisbane, via Dubbo

Whenever you go away, there comes that inevitable time, to head home. After our drive to Bathurst, we eventually needed to return to Brisbane. Dubbo is a short drive, of under 4 hours from Jenolan Caves.

Heading through all sorts of changing landscapes, we could be forgiven for thinking we had ended up in the wrong country! But, through Wellington we went, as we headed to Dubbo.

We had a late start on this day, only due to an unexpected breakfast delay. This meant the planned stop was shortened to 10 minute breaks a rest area. Interesting to pass through Orange and many other country areas. Each unique in their own way. Orange itself a lot more spread out than I had imagined.

After lunch, we arrived in Dubbo where we stopped by the Zoo. On this occasion we personally didn’t do the rounds of the zoo, choosing instead to settle in for a bite to eat at the cafe. Quite an interesting spot to sit, while you watch the monkeys on their nearby island, and view the bird life just casually, swimming or strolling around the area. One of these was this magnificent peacock.Not too concerned about visitors, he was happy to meander around the tables, checking to see what might be on offer before heading out to the wide open space for a bit of lunch.Monkeys are always fascinating to watch. They don’t stop, constantly moving around their island, interacting, playing, just generally entertaining the public. You could easily wile away the hours out the front of the cafe, relaxing and receiving the free entertainment on offer.

Should you decide to go into the zoo, which if you havent done, you should, then dont forget you can take your own vehicle round or hire one of the golf buggies. Great idea if you are short on time or simply not really up to the walk.

With a lot of accommodation choices on offer, it can be hard to decide where to stay. On this occasion we were booked into the Abel Tasman Motor Inn which is conveniently located near the zoo, and even more conveniently located across the road from Club Dubbo. Awesome venue if you’re after some hearty bistro meal, quiet drink or even a dabble on the pokies. Great way to finish the day!The following day, was a short drive to Narrabri. However, after passing through Gilgandra, we headed up to Siding Spring observatory at Coonabarabran, for an informative experience, before continuing on to Narrabri.

Once you leave the main road to head up to the observatory, the road is rougher in places and a little isolated. Still fine for cars plus the diversion is well worth it, when you can view with you own eyes, not only a stunning view, but Australia’s biggest telescope.Housed inside the huge white 6 storey high dome, you can see from miles away, the telescope is quite fascinating.

Theres a cafe on site, plus a gallery costing a mere couple of dollars to enter, which gives some amazing history on the universe and this entire set up. Check out the weights of those milk cartons throughout the universe! It’s incredibly addictive!

Now stick your head through the gap and become a part of the universe…

The vistas from here are amazing. Looking out over the Warrumbungle National Park is quite heartstopping. For as far as the eye can see theres an incredible array of Australian trees, rocks and infamous red dirt. If you haven’t dropped in here in the past (as we hadn’t), then I strongly suggest you take the time to stop in. We had storm clouds rolling in and yet the scenery was still breathtaking. In some way, those storm clouds really fitted into the area, giving a subdued moody look.Keep your eyes peeled too, there are some totally awesome art creations as you head up the short hill to the observatory.

Our last overnight stop was Narrabri. Totally surprising to find we were booked in to a very unique hotel, named the Crossroads Hotel. Looking pretty slick with a modernised look, the rooms surprised, not only in spaciousness, but in the clean modern feel.

But, the icing on the cake, well there were a couple of things. Check out the in house bowling alley, how cool is this!Not only a two lane bowling alley, there are video games, machines and your own bar. Sweet!!

Or perhaps you just want to chill in the tasteful garden area,Another option, book a private room if you have a group. That way you can all eat together, or just sit back and have a conversation away from the general public. Whatever you choose, this country hotel is ready to provide. Enjoy!

Our last stop on the final day, was the truck stop in Goondiwindi. What a hearty lunch for only $12, and this was the small plate! No cooking when we get home!

Thank you for joining me on this road trip, it was truely enjoyable and so interesting to see a bit more of this massive continent we live in. Cheers!

Western Plains Zoo – Dubbo (morning walk through)

Never having visited the Western Plains Zoo, before, I took the opportunity whilst visiting Dubbo to take part in the early morning two hour walk through, covering approximately 2-4 kms

Run by some the friendliest people you will ever meet, who volunteer their time at the zoo, I would highly recommend this informative, interesting tour.  Check with the zoo for the days the walk operates, as it is dependant on the time of year.   

If you are visiting the zoo that day, the walk through will only cost you $15.   Choosing to only be there for the walk, brings the price to $25, which I personally felt was reasonable and worth it.    

Starting st 6:45am, volunteers divide you into groups, before setting off on your walk, which will take you to some behind the scenes areas, not generally accessible to the public. Fences are minimal, with the main focus on wet or dry moats to contain the animals in their designated areas.

Commencing with the monkeys on the islands, in front of the main building, we then headed off to the wild African dogs.   The dogs however were enjoying a lazy morning sleep in and felt our visiting their enclosure, was not worth rising for.

 Ruler of all he surveys.   One cannot but be anything other than fascinated with these mesmerising meerkats.   Always busy, stopping only to stand guard and survey their territory, you need to be quick to photograph them whilst still.  No sleep in for these guys, they love attention!

 Dubbo Zoo is world renown for its successful breeding program, with their main focus on rhinos.   This white Rhino, was still in his night pen, not yet having been released for the day.   He was interested in seeing why we were there, coming right up to his front fence, maybe in the hope we were bringing breakfast.

Directly opposite the whole rhino, were a couple of gorgeous giraffes.   Our volunteer tour guide, had some cut up carrots for these majestic creatures, which they were obviously expecting.  After casually strolling their way to the fence, long tongues were extended to gently take the carrots offered to them.  Over in the back paddock, we could catch glimpses of the metre high baby, born on New Year’s Day 2016.   Not even one month old yet, but taller than most people.

The tallest animals on this earth, were then followed by the most dangerous, the hippos.

After some encouragement, the smaller hippo decided he would exit the water to enjoy the lettuce thrown into his pen.  The ripples in the water changed to show two eyes, before the whole hippo slowly emerged.   Making his way up the ramp towards the lettuce, his slow moving hefty body, appeared to take a lot of effort to move.   The end result though, was very much enjoyed!

 Leaving the hippo to enjoy his treat, we stopped in on couple of antelope varieties as  as well as some show off monkeys.    Delicate, curious and with gorgeous markings, the gentle creatures below were a delight to watch.


   
 
  Monkeys are always fascinating, swinging from rope to branch with effortless see, dangling off one arm, whilst soaking in the appreciation of their captivated audience.   This father was running his young son through some moves, with the youngster doing an excellent job of keeping up, not letting the odd slip up phase him at all.

 

Our guide provided an interesting background on the zoo and its inhabitants.   More than willing to answer questions along the way.  These volunteers should be commended for the time they put into the zoo.   Without their hard work and dedication, the opportunities for the public to experience the wonders within the zoo, would not exist.

Equally impressive, are the free facilities the general public can access, without having to pay a zoo entry.  A delightful children’s playground with barbecue facilities, as well as the indoor/outdoor dining provided by the zoo cafe.  All over looking two monkey islands, which provide a constantly changing backdrop.    There are not many places around who would provide all this for free.   Take the time to visit, and, if time is short, keep the morning walk in mind, I would highly recommend this interesting insight into zoo life. 

 Enjoy this view for free!