Melbourne Zoo vs. Werribee Open Range Zoo

Old Nov 11th, 2008, 11:35 AM
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Melbourne Zoo vs. Werribee Open Range Zoo

We are arriving in Melbourne mid December for a week holiday and are trying to plan to see as much as we can. If you had to choose between the zoos in the area, which one would you pick?
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Old Nov 11th, 2008, 12:32 PM
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It all depends on what you want out of a zoo. The Melbourne Zoo is a "conventional" zoo that you walk around with a lot of different animal. Whereas Werribee only has animals that live on the open range. You take a tour on a bus as it drives around past the buffalo, giraffe, hippos etc.

In terms of time, Melbourne Zoo is right on the edge of the city, so is only a few minutes by tram. It could easily be combined with several other attractions in the city on the same day. Victoria Market is fairly close. Werribee is a 30 min drive from town. There is nothing much else near it apart from Werribee Mansion and the National Rose Garden which may or may not interest you. It is on the way to the Great Ocean Road if you are intending to do that, but you could not do Werribee and the GOR in one day. The GOR takes one very full day minimum.

Don't forget there is Healesville Zoo which has only Australian animals. It is about an hour out of town and could be combined with a drive through the Yarra Valley (great wineries and restaurants) or the Dandenongs (walks through the temperate rainforest, fossicking through small shops and restaurants).
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Old Nov 11th, 2008, 01:01 PM
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We actual arrive in Brisbane the week prior staying in Runaway Bay. Meet up with our daughter who is studying at Bond for the semester, go to the beaches, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and a day trip to South Straddie then fly to Melbourne for the second week staying near Patterson Lake. I know we want to travel the GOR and Phillip Island but are trying to make sure we don't miss any other major sites unique to Australia. Our other thoughts were between the Victoria Market, Royal Botanic Gardens, Old Melbourne Gaol and possibly taking in a cricket match.What do you think? Should I add or delete anything?
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Old Nov 11th, 2008, 02:03 PM
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As Shandy has said, the Dandenong Ranges are a lovely area, a walk through Sherbrooke Forest and/or a ride on the Puffing Billy allowing you to see some lovely hills country.

Have a look here:

And what I suggest to people thinking of Phillip Island for the Penguins and the GOR is that they arrange to hire a car, and do something of a three/four day loop and though you're already down around Port Phillip Bay a bit at Pattersons Lakes, I'd do something like
. head off to the Dandenongs through Ferntree Gully and up to Ferny Creek on northern side of Sherbrooke Forest and there's gardens up there too (from the Parkweb info) and on to Sassafras (lived there many years ago) and Olinda and down to Mount Dandenong, grab a devonshire tea and lunch up in that area.
Small backtrack to Olinda and then down to Monbulk and The Patch, and along to Emerald, Cockatoo and Gembrook before heading across to Pakenham on the Princess Hwy and then across to Koo- wee- rup and onto the South Gippsland Hwy and there's a big earthworm display along there a bit as well as a lookout over the Koo w. r. swamps area, also a big wetlands park down that way somewhere too (Parkweb again).
You're going to have a heap of time as the Penguins do not come in until late, and so you are best to book some accommodation in Cowes, some lovely B&Bs there

Set off in the morning to drive back the way you've come but turn off just past Tooradin for a drive through Pearcedale and Baxter to pick-up the Mornington Peninsula Freeway, and continue on down towards Sorrento, taking a detour up Arthurs Seat if you like, and going down the back way.

Check out Portsea and Point Nepean and then take the ferry across to Queenscliff, a lovely older village and you may even want to browse and stay the night rather than be driving the GOR into the sun.

If staying, you'll have the sun behind or above you for most of the GOR drive and I'd aim at a stay at Port Fairy for the night.

Day 4 you head home via Ballarat and have a look at Sovereign Hill, maybe a turn off the Western Freeway through Bacchus Marsh for Werribee and the Plains Zoo could be on the itinerary.

The Botanical Gardens are one of the worlds best and even though you have accommodation at Pattersons Lakes, you may want to have a night up in town to give you two full days for a look about Melbourne and some cricket if a match is on.
There's a free City Circle Tram which does the CBD/Docklands perimeter and is well worthwhile to orientate yourself with the city and to get about it, sometimes a commentory on all the older landmarks and points of interest it passes including the Gaol and the Vic Markets - you can get on and off at tram stops all around the city.
Captain Cooks cottage in the Fitzroy Gardens is another place you may find appealing or at if you feel the need for some mild exercise or a different lunch spot - might even spot an odd Kookaburra or two sitting on an old gum treeand if you're going to stay up in Melbourne for a night, a tram with a difference for an evening meal -

Actually, if you're staying with friends at Patterson Lakes (or even not) have a depot at Dandenong and if you can arrange to get there and back from PL, it'd make sense to start the tour there and then have a night or two in Melbourne and drop the car back to Dandenong same time you took it.

and you get yourself out to the eastern side and from Gembrook or Cockatoo
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Old Nov 11th, 2008, 02:16 PM
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Since you're staying at Patterson Lakes, you could take some time to check out the Mornington Peninsula ( Go to the top of Arthur's Seat for the best view you can get of Melbourne and the heads of Port Phillip Bay. Lots of excellent wineries down that way and some great coastline.

My favourite drive on the Peninsula is from Balnarring to Flinders and then from Flinders to Rosebud. If you do that drive make sure you take the little road that goes through the middle of the Flinders golf course, right on the coast.

You could also start your GOR trip (I assume you're driving yourselves?) by catching the ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliff ( and then heading down through Torquay and Anglesea to the GOR.

An interesting alternative to the Royal Botanic Gardens is the recently opened Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne ( which is an all-native garden - quite unusual and worth a look if you're into plants. Cranbourne is about half an hour from Patterson Lakes.

I'd definitely recommend the cricket - the MCG is one of the great sports stadiums in the world and includes the Australian Gallery of Sport, which is quite interesting. If you're in Melbourne at Christmas, the Boxing Day test is a Melbourne institution and is a rare chance to see the MCG with 100,000 people in it.

Regarding zoos - shandy gives some good advice. I personally didn't find the Werribee Zoo all that exciting, it's a bit like a down market African safari. The Melbourne Zoo is excellent - world standard. Another little item you could consider is the Pearcedale Moonlit Sanctuary (, again on the Mornington Peninsula. It's very small but you can get really up close to the animals - hand feed the kangaroos, hold a koala (something very few people want to do more than once!). If you're heading down to the Peninsula, it's worth spending an hour there.
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Old Nov 12th, 2008, 02:59 AM
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All excellent suggestions and I heartily endorse pumblechook's view that the drive from Balnarring to Flinders and then onto Rosebud is an easy and really fabulous little trip .
Flinders is a pretty little town with terrifically good bakery / cafes and a hotel .Nice to have lunch there .
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Old Nov 12th, 2008, 04:51 AM
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