The Savannah Visitor Plaza is where visitors without a zoo entrance ticket can linger for as long as they like. The view over Savannah Lake is lovely, as it’s brimming with turtles, and Black Swans glide serenely amongst them. It’s prime real estate, with private islands commandeered by Black Hand Spider Monkeys, and a couple of Lemurs share another. Taronga Western Plains Zoo is the flip side of its sibling in Sydney. Set on the dry Central NSW Plains, there are no harbour views here. I don’t visit the zoo this time round, but I think it’s probably changed a bit since I pedalled the 6km circuit on a rusty old bike in 2001. In 2017, the bikes at the rental shop are all shiny and new, and look a lot more pleasant to ride. If cycling to each animal exhibit is too much like hard work, hire an electric cart, or drive your own car, or walk. Unlike their city slicker cousins, these animals have space – and that’s the beauty of this zoo – space to roam. At the entrance, alongside the ticket office and the Zoo Shop, is Bakhita’s Cafe that has seating that takes in the views towards Savannah Lake. While I queue at the cafeteria-style eatery, I read the blackboard sign that says “fresh scones”. The scones definitely taste like they have been baked on the premises, but probably early this morning. They’re not bad and have luckily been removed from the microwave just in time. The Diary Whip cream (97 per cent fresh cream from a can) is super light, and I’m not even going to mention the sachets of jam!
Tea: A basic variety of Sir Thomas J Lipton teabags served in a paper takeaway cup.
Overall: A zoo cafe with a zoo view.
Location: Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Obley Rd, Dubbo NSW 2830 Ph: 02 6881 1437 taronga.org.au
Reviewed in April, 2017