Sleeping with the animals at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo

6 May 2015

Not everyone has the time or budget for African safari experience but there is a great alternative closer to home for those in NSW looking for a family adventure getaway. The Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo can offer the first safari experience for your kids and is home to hundreds of animals from around the world – not just Africa.

What’s even wilder is you and your kids can spend the night at the zoo and go on afternoon and night time game drives, just like the real thing!

Sleep overnight at the Zoofari Lodge

Sleeping within the grounds of Dubbo Zoo at Zoofari Lodge brought memories of our time in Africa flooding back.

It was almost like waking up on a real African safari, without the 14 hour flight. But no, we were on a family adventure in Dubbo, a mere 5 -hour drive north west of Sydney.

The Taronga Western Plains Zoo premier overnight experience features 15 luxurious African-inspired lodges along the edge of the Savannah exhibit. There’s wildlife roaming out the front door of your lodge on the open savannah, and we were safely positioned on our private deck, camera and cold drink in hand.


You can sit there and enjoy the comforts of your glamorous tent, or jump on an afternoon game drive. One of the benefits of staying at the Zoofari Lodge is a behind the scenes experience with the animals, escorted by extremely knowledgeable guides.

Just like on an African safariOn a real safari in Africa, late afternoon is the best time for wildlife spotting, and just like that we saw giraffes, African wild dogs, cheetahs, and ring-tailed lemur.


Back at camp there’s cocktails and canapés on the main house veranda to greet you, followed by a communal dinner with the other guests – a smorgasbord of meats, salads and dessert.

Next up is the night drive and the chance to visit with hippos, rhinos, and the African elephant. We got up close and personal – even in the dark.

Waking up on the Savanna

The highlight of the morning for our kids was the chance to feed the giraffes their breakfast of carrots. Even the slobber from the giraffes incredibly LONG tongue couldn’t wipe the smiles off their faces.


As part of our morning drive we also saw the elephants get a foot scrub and a mouth wash, and learnt about the rhinos and the hungry hippos.


Biking Dubbo Zoo

Normally bike rental is $15 but as part of your Zoofari Lodge stay you get free hire. Cycling around the zoo at your own pace is a great activity all the family can enjoy and adds to the family adventure experience.

The wildlife spotting can be fantastic. Look out for mumma cheetah and her cubs in action. And the BIG Galapagos tortoises will be a hit with the kids.


And of course a few of your Aussie favourites might be hopping around.


Dubbo Zoo is famous for its self-drive, and if you’re not capable of cycling the 6 km one-way circuit as part of your Zoofari package then don’t miss this self-drive opportunity. You can take as long as you want and there are ample places to pull over and come face-to-face with wildlife from around the world – who are happy to pose for photos.


So forget about your passport and long flights, grab your kids, your camera and your safari suit and escape to Dubbo for the ultimate African wildlife experience. Tomorrow you could be waking up to the sight of giraffe and zebra roaming on the open savanna – the smiles on your kids faces will be priceless.

  • Dubbo City Council

    Great blog post Craig and Caz! Thank you for visiting Dubbo and Taronga Western Plains Zoo and sharing your experience.

    • Craig Makepeace

      Your welcome. Our kids, and us big kids, loved our time exploring the zoo :)

  • Lily Hagy

    Thanks for sharing your experience, nice blog and awesome picture. How much did you spend on that exciting experience? I love to see how you bring your kids and family to enjoy the zoo. If you want to try more exciting and challenging, I suggest you to try Wildlife adventure zoo in dutch, please check the official website