You know what’s better than the latest Lion King movie? Actually getting up close and personal with the animals from the film – and the best part is, you can do it across NSW!
Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo
If you haven’t been to Taronga Western Plains Zoo lately, you’ve never been. Not only has there been a baby boom in the form of four Oriental small-clawed otter pups, a black-handed spider monkey (the fifth to be born in the past 18 months) and three giraffe calves, there’s also the African-style plains of Lion Pride Lands and Mongolian-inspired Wild Herds village, home to przewalski’s horse and fallow deer.
Where: Obley Road, Dubbo
Getting there: NSW TrainLink’s Western XPT travels to Dubbo daily. For more information and to book, visit transportnsw.info/regional to plan your day.
Entry fee: Children from $25.20 (kids under four are free), adults from $43.20. Buy tickets online to save up to 20 per cent!
Hours: 9am to 4pm
More information: taronga.org.au/dubbo-zoo
Marrambidya Wetland, Wagga Wagga
If meeting up with Zazu is more up your alley, make your way to Marrambidya Wetland. ‘Marrambidya’ means ‘big water’ in Wiradjuri language and reflects the traditional name of the Murrumbidgee River, which the wetland is nestled against. Take a self-guided tour through the 20-hectare reserve, stopping in at signposted bird hides and vantage points to snap the perfect shot.
Where: 100 Narrung Street, Wagga Wagga
Getting there: NSW TrainLink’s Southern XPT travels to Wagga Wagga daily. For more information and to book, visit transportnsw.info/regional to plan your day.
Entry fee: Free
Hours: 24 hours, seven days a week
More information: visitwagga.com
Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre, Eden
Okay, so whales don’t appear in the film, but if you’re travelling with kids you’ll be stoked to learn that this is one place where visitors are actually encouraged to touch and hold the exhibits – there are no glass windows here! Plus, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the September to October whale season (weather permitting), expert staff will be at Rotary Lookout with their ‘Spot That Whale’ exhibit and binoculars to help you spot and identify the gentle giants as they migrate along the East Coast.
Where: 253 Imlay Street, Eden
Getting there: NSW TrainLink’s Southern Xplorer travels to Canberra daily. For more information and to book, visit transportnsw.info/regional to plan your day.
Entry fee: Children $5, adults $10. The off-site ‘Spot The Whale’ experience is free.
Hours: 10am to 3pm. ‘Spot The Whale’ will run from 10am to midday, weather permitting.
More information: sapphirecoastdiscovery.com.au
Billabong Zoo, Port Macquarie
If the popular Disney film were based in Australia, it would’ve been called The Koala King – so this is our shout-out to a place that is doing wonders for our furry favourites. Koala populations are dropping significantly due to habitat loss and global warming, but these guys have implemented a world-renowned breeding program. Learn about their passion for conservation through talks, walks and one-on-one encounters with koalas, cheetahs, snow leopards, red pandas, meerkats and snakes.
Where: 61 Billabong Drive, Port Macquarie
Getting there: NSW TrainLink’s North Coast XPT travels daily to Wauchope, where you can get a coach to Port Macquarie. For more information and to book, visit transportnsw.info/regional to plan your day.
Entry fee: Children $19, adults $34
Hours: 9am to 5pm
More information: billabongzoo.com.au
Take a page out of Let’s Go Mum‘s book and let NSW TrainLink do the driving with regional train and coach services connecting more than 365 destinations across NSW, ACT, Victoria and Queensland. Book your seat online at transportnsw.info/regional for the best-value fares – it’s quick, easy and secure!