Animals and Nature
Taronga Western Plains Zoo
The open-range zoo is home to hundreds of animals from the around the world, including Lazarus, Maya and six other lions. In the new African lion precinct Lion Pride Lands, you can get up close to the lions safely behind special glass windows and take memorable family pictures with the big cats.
There are safari tours in a truck inside the lions’ enclosed kingdom, which is part of an international effort to protect the endangered species. You can also explore the zoo in a car or hire an electric cart or bicycles to visit the animals, including giraffes, rhinos, ring-tailed lemurs and spider monkeys. Zoo tickets are valid for two days in a row.
Warrumbungle National Park
A scenic drive north of Dubbo is one of Australia’s most iconic wildernesses, the Warrumbungle National Park, shaped spectacularly by ancient volcanic eruptions. Pop into the Warrumbungle Visitor Centre for tips on bushwalking and camping in Australia’s first Dark Sky Park, a stunning stargazing destination.
Free of artificial light, the night sky twinkles with billions of stars. Australia’s largest optical telescope is at the Siding Spring Observatory, just inside the park near Coonabarabran. In the Exploratory centre at Siding Spring you’ll discover more about the Universe and the observatory’s research.
Wellington and Lake Burrendong
For a journey deep into the past, the world-famous Wellington Caves are southeast of Dubbo. There are guided tours of the limestone caves, where megafauna fossils from the Pleistocene epoch were uncovered in 1830 – the discovery fascinated Charles Darwin and influenced his evolutionary ideas.
Wellington is great too for bushwalking and mountain biking in the Mount Arthur Reserve. Or wander on tranquil trails through rare and endangered native plants in the Burrendong Botanic Garden and Arboretum by Lake Burrendong, a popular spot for family picnics and water sports.
The Macquarie Marshes
The bird-rich Macquarie Marshes are one of the largest remaining inland semi-permanent wetlands in south-eastern Australia. The Marshes are a major breeding area and a total of 77 waterbird species can be found in the area, including the threatened brolga, magpie goose, Australasian bittern and painted snipe. You can visit on NSW National Parks guided tours that run over the October long weekend each year.