Let’s face it – everyone loves a zoo and with around 80 zoos in Australia to visit, Australian’s are spoilt for choice! Of course every major city has a great zoo, such as Sydney’s spectacular Taronga Zoo considered one of the most beautiful zoos in the world, but it’s often the small regional zoos in Australia that provide the most unique and intimate zoo experiences. Here’s the Choice Hotels’ top 5 zoos in regional Australia.
Mogo zoo is a bit of a surprise package. Located about 4 hours south of Sydney close to Bateman’s Bay, Mogo Zoo is a relatively small unassuming country zoo where you would expect to find a collection of farm animals, Australian native animals and maybe a few birds and reptiles. Instead you are presented with an amazing collection of rare and endangered animals from around the world. Mogo Zoo is a breeding zoo housing the largest collection of primates in a private zoo in Australia; it is also home to a range of big cats including Sumatran tigers and rare white lions. The zoo offers an intimate zoo experience along with special animal encounters and keeper talks.
The historic mining town of Mogo is great to explore with an eclectic mix of cafes and shops but there are few accommodation options. The range of Batemans Bay hotels, only 10 minutes north of Mogo, is much broader catering for most needs. Try the Comfort Inn Lincoln Downs – a gorgeous country retreat set in acres of lush English gardens.
Taronga Western Plain Zoo Dubbo
This is definitely one of my favourites! Not only will you see over 700 animals in open style (no fences where possible) enclosures resembling their natural habitats, but it’s open plan design means it’s great fun to get around. You can choose to either walk, drive, ride bikes or even drive a buggy. Bikes and buggies are available to hire at the zoo along with helmets, child seats and cabooses or you can bring your own. Entry into the zoo is valid for 2 days so there’s plenty of time to see every exhibition at a leisurely pace.
Choice Hotels has a great range of Dubbo accommodation for all types of travellers:-
Halls Gap Zoo
Located at the base of the majestic Grampian mountain range, this small regional zoo has over 160 species of native and exotic animals, birds and reptiles in picturesque surrounds. Ranging from adorable red pandas to stunning peacocks, cheeky primates and hairy nosed wombats, the zoo offers the chance to meet some of these animals close up and learn more about them in interesting keeper talks.
If you’re looking for great value Halls Gap accommodation, try the Comfort Inn Country Plaza Halls Gap only 6 minutes from the Halls Gap Zoo.
National Zoo & Aquarium Canberra
Although technically not a ‘regional zoo’, the National Zoo & Aquarium is privately owned and therefore I believe it deserves a place on this list. The only combined zoo and aquarium in Australia – the National Zoo & Aquarium is located on around 7 hectares of land only 5 minutes from Canberra’s centre. The zoo is home to a wide range of exotic and native animals and Australia’s largest inland salt-water tank. Animal encounters are available with sun bears, cheetahs, sharks, giraffes, tigers and white lions but need to be booked early during peak periods as they are always popular.
The Quality Hotel Dickson is only a short 10-minute drive from the National Zoo & Aquarium and boasts spacious four-star Canberra accommodation. Only an 8-minute drive from the zoo is the modern four-star Quality Hotel Woden.
What this zoo lacks in varieties of animals it makes up for with its lush tropical surroundings. The zoo holds over 50 varieties of native and exotic species and special care has been taken when designing their enclosure so that visitors can get as close as possible. There is an elevated walkway through the koala enclosure to get you amongst the treetop hangouts of these Australian icons, and a large walk through aviary housing an extensive collection of finches, cockatoos, parakeets and more. Don’t miss the big salt-water crocs getting fed and consider visiting the zoo during one of the scheduled night tours so you can see the nocturnal animals at their most active. All of this is surrounded by the stunning Rockhampton botanic gardens.
If you’re looking for boutique style Rockhampton accommodation, the Denison Boutique Hotel is ideal. Built in 1885, this beautifully restored Rockhampton hotel boasts king size four poster beds and lush furnishings. The Comfort Inn Rockhampton is more suited to families and the more budget conscious, and is only a quick 8 minute drive to the zoo.