You don’t have to go all the way to Africa to experience the thrill of a real wildlife safari. Australia has it’s own Open range zoo, which is also one of the largest in the southern hemisphere. If you are an Australian resident or happen to be visiting Australia then you must not miss the chance to go on safari at Werribee Open Range Zoo.
The Werribee Open Range Zoo is set over 200 hectares of land where visitors can get the unique opportunity to see animals roaming free in an open environment, similar to that of their own native habitat. There are also three great walking trails that take you on a foot journey to various wildlife enclosures. The Zoo is also well known for it’s unique opportunities to experience their wildlife encounter tours and exploration of the large savannah.
There are three walking trails, all of which are easily navigated. The established vegetation along the trails have you feeling like you are on a jungle track, keeping you wondering what is around the next bend. The Pula reserve is 1 km long and on this trail you will find lions, hippos, cheetahs and gorilla’s. The Australian journey trail is about 500 meters long and includes kangaroos, koala’s and emus. The Wirribi River Trail is 1 km long and takes you on a nature walk to the Werribee River and Chirnside woodshed. Water fountains are located throughout these trails.
Rhythm of Africa
I visited the Werribee Zoo during one of the Rhythm of Africa nights. The Rhythm of Africa is an entertainment program that is run over the summer months on Saturday nights. After spending the day exploring the zoo, visitors can then sit back and relax in the African Village. The area has an expansive lawn area where visitors are encouraged to ‘set up camp’ in the African village with a picnic hamper and a bottle of wine. Or if you left the hamper at home then there is also village food available – African inspired.
Once you have settled in, the African band begins to play from around 5.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. The drums and rhythmic beats have the crowd up and dancing – mind you there was a lot of ‘twerking’ going on! In the huts, there are African women offering hair braiding and beading and for the kids there is the African animal face painting. Beside the stage is a circle of conga drums that can be played by anyone wanting to have a go and blends in nicely with the bands music. This is a fun night, where you can sit with a wine and listen to the music and feel like you are in Africa. These nights are extremely popular for all ages.
Safari’s and Wild encounters
The safari bus tour takes you onto the savannah on a designated road for a chance to see iconic animals in their own environment. The tour leaves every ten minutes and there is a full running commentary as you go about the zoo. The bus is open air so you will have a good opportunity to take some amazing photos. I found the tour to be excellent, we were lucky to have most animals wandering close to the road, giving us a good opportunity to see these animals close up. The tour took around 40 minutes.
If you would really like to get right into the action for an up-close look at the Zebras, Giraffes and Rhino’s, there is the Off Road Safari. The smaller vehicle takes you off the designated road right into the vast grassland of the savannah and will have you right alongside some of these animals.
Wild encounters takes you behind the scenes with the wildlife rangers that are normally off limits. Wildlife encounter tours are available for the Giraffes, Gorilla’s, lions and African Cats.
For the ultimate safari experience, there is the Slumber Safari which is an overnight stay. You will be taken behind the scenes, experience close up animal encounters, a night walk, campfire and African inspired meals. Stay in upmarket tents complete with balconies that overlook the savannah and perhaps wake to see the amazing site of giraffes wandering in the foreground.
The important things
The Rhythm of Africa
- Runs over summer on Saturdays from the 10th January through to the 28th February.
- Bring your own picnic hamper, alcohol, drinks, rugs and chairs.
- Last Safari bus tour leaves at 6 p.m.
- Walking trails close at 8 p.m
- Adults $30.80
- Kids 0-15 yrs are free every weekend, 4-15 yrs $13.60 Monday to Friday.
- Safari bus is free once you have paid your entry.
- Werribee Zoo is open from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. every day of the year (last entry 3.30 p.m)
- Off-road Safari runs at 11.45 daily at a cost of $80 per adult, $65 for children (8-15yrs)
- Slumber Safari costs $300 per adult and a minimum fee of $600 per lodge.
Location and Contact
Werribee Open Range Zoo
K Road, Werribee
Tele: 1300 966 784
Website: Werribee Open Range Zoo