The Australian state of Victoria boasts three very large zoos, The Melbourne Zoo, The Healesville Sanctuary and the Werribee Open Range Zoo. All of these zoos are easily accessible from Melbourne, and are part of the Zoos Victoria organisation which is committed to zoo-based conservation efforts.
We decided to visit Werribee Open Range Zoo as we were excited by the opportunity to experience a safari adventure in Australia (and it is located a stone’s throw away from where a dear friend of mine lives so it was a convenient location for a reunion). Spanning a massive 560 acres of land, the zoo boasts an amazing array of animals from the African savannah as well as Australasian and North American grasslands, and plenty of space for them to roam.
We hoped to meet as soon as the Zoo opened at 9am as that is when the animals are most active, but what with jet lag and being unsure of the roads, we reached Werribee closer to 10am. Fortunately, we were able to catch the serval cat presentation as well as watch the lions being fed their breakfast.
It was wonderful to be able to see the shy and beautiful serval cat up close as it leaped high into the air over a clump of grass, landing so gracefully that it didn’t even disturb a single blade. The lions were also a real delight, as there were three tiny lion cubs gambolling happily around their proud parents.
There were several outdoor play spaces which captured J and Little E’s attention. J really liked the obstacle courses and rope bridges, whilst Little E had fun looking for fossils in the sandy dig pit. My friends had put together a delicious picnic lunch which we quickly demolished, after which the kids ran off together to climb, swing and slide in the playground.
After this, we queued up for the highlight of our visit, the safari tour, where we hopped on a large bus that took us around the expansive zoo grounds. It was a relatively pleasant afternoon, and many of the animals had wandered close to the bus route so we were able to observe them at close range.
If we didn’t have such young kids with us, we would have stayed to explore some of the other walking trails within the park, but we decided to head back to our self-catering apartment for a much needed afternoon nap.
In the evening, we met up with our friends for dinner at 400 Gradi, a pizzeria in the East Brunswick district of Melbourne city that is well known for showcasing the food of Naples (which is where their head chef is from).
If you are a fan of very thin, crispy pizza crust and the smoky taste of a wood-fired pizza, then this is the place for you! It was very busy when we were there and we only managed to get a table because our friends had the foresight to make a booking well in advance, so if you are planning to go, do call ahead.