The Road Ahead Sampler : December 2015
NATIONAL | TRAVEL kids at the time, but as we arrived at the zoo at nightfall, with the sounds of the wild filling the air, I was more than a little nervous. This was glamping at its best -- fully furnished tents (complete with electric blankets), canapés on arrival, buffet dinner and an exclusive behind-the- scenes tour of the zoo. It was such a unique experience that I would recommend it to all animal-lovers with a sense of adventure. Don't expect much shut-eye though -- the action- packed program won't see you hitting the pillow before 11pm and you're up with the chimps at 6am for another exclusive behind-the-scenes tour before the crowds arrive. But it's worth it. Our last animal-inspired stop on this epic journey was Dubbo, and the Taronga Western Plains Zoo. More than 20 years ago, I visited the Mabula Game Lodge in South Africa, where you are immersed in the wildlife of the African savannah. It was hard to believe that, just over three hours' drive from the Blue Mountains, the same experience was possible. It was déjà vu arriving at Zoofari Lodge, where a series of 15 African- style tented lodges are positioned on an Australian version of the savannah and giraffes and zebras roam free. A guided tour provided a behind-the- scenes experience of the zoo and a valuable insight into the amazing conservation work being done right here at home. After an African-inspired dinner we retired to our 'tent' and listened to the sounds of the wild, roaring lions (contrary to the song, lions do not sleep much at night). With six kilometres of sealed road and 15km of walking tracks to cover, we hired bicycles the following day to ensure we could see every one of the hundreds of rare and endangered animals that call Taronga Western Plains Zoo home. Recently the zoo welcomed three lion cubs and a rare black rhino calf, as well as four Asian elephants from Taronga Zoo in Sydney, and they were all stars in their own right. Learning about the plight of these animals was humbling, and strong motivation to be aware of the impact humans have on their futures. People have mixed opinions of zoos. Some might consider it cruel to keep animals in 'cages' for the entertainment of humans. The reality is that without zoos, many of those animals would cease to exist. Sadly, some already are extinct. What stood out to me on this trip was how the workers at every zoo shared a common goal -- to protect the future of the animals they cared for. And I reckon that's a cause we should all support. LOCAL EXPERIENCES ...the workers at every zoo shared a common goal -- to protect the future of the animals they cared for You don't have to cross the border to get up close and personal with all creatures great and small. SEA WORLD, GOLD COAST Gain an insight into the watery world of polar bears, penguins, dolphins, seals and sharks during one of Sea World's 12 Animal Adventures. RACQ member offer: Save 10% on single entry tickets pre-purchased online at racq.com/seaworld. AUSTRALIA ZOO, BEERWAH Koalas, zebras, giraffes and tigers are just a few of the 22 animal encounter experiences available at Australia Zoo. RACQ member offer: Save 10% on tickets pre-purchased online at racq.com/wildlifehospital. UNDERWATER WORLD SEA LIFE, MOOLOOLABA Immerse yourself in the wonders of the ocean during a Sleep Under the Sea Experience, which includes exclusive animal encounters. RACQ member offer: Pre-purchase a day-only ticket online and bring a friend for free (save 55%). racq.com/underwaterworld.
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