Australia might be famous for its kangaroos and koalas, but the Werribee Open Range Zoo offers all the excitement of an African safari on Aussie shores. Lions, rhinoceros, giraffes, and gorillas all roam freely in the park’s 494-acre (200-hectare) grasslands, affording visitors some incredible wildlife-watching opportunities.
General admission to Werribee Open Range Zoo includes a 40-minute safari bus tour around Werribee Park with live commentary from a safari guide. Visitors can also enjoy viewing areas and walking trails, spotting Kubu River hippos and trekking through grasslands; learn more about the zoo’s efforts toward animal conservation during the daily zookeeper talks; or take part in optional activities, such as a small-group off-road safari tour, an overnight experience, or supervised animal encounters.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Queues can be long especially in peak season (December and January), so it’s best to book your tickets in advance.
- On-site facilities include free parking, picnic areas, and a range of restaurants, cafés, and kiosks.
- If visiting with young children, there is an indoor play area and a miniature safari tour that’s specifically designed for toddlers.
- Safari tours are wheelchair accessible and suitable for all ages.
How to Get There
Werribee Open Range Zoo is about 21 miles (34 kilometers) southwest of Melbourne and is accessible by car along Princes Highway South or by public transportation, via bus 439 from Werribee Station. There is also a shuttle bus that departs daily from outside the National Gallery of Victoria in central Melbourne, but tickets must be booked in advance.
When to Get There
The zoo is open daily year-round. It can get crowded in peak season (December and January), as well as on weekends and public holidays throughout the year. For the best wildlife watching, visit in cooler weather, when the animals are more likely to be active—they tend to hide out in the shade during the hottest periods.
Wildlife Watching at the Werribee Open Range Zoo
Hop aboard an open vehicle and venture off-road through the Werribee grasslands, where you’ll search for rhinoceros, buffalo, antelope, African wild dog, or prowling prides of lions. See vervet monkeys, as they swing through the treetops, watch hippopotamus splashing around in the river, or spot zebras out grazing on the plains. Other top sightings include endangered species such as western lowland gorillas, desert dwellers like camels and ostriches, and native Australian animals such as kangaroos, emu, koalas, and eastern barred bandicoots.