If you are heading to Werribee Open Range Zoo on a hot day, pack your swimming gear for a stopover at Hippo Beach. It's a splash pad next
to the hippopotamus enclosure, and it includes several life size hippos to crawl on and run around.
Above: Three semi-submerged hippos and one stretching its mouth on the splash pad at Hippo Beach
The splash pad is turned on when it is hot, and from the zoo staff it sounds like a fairly subjective decision, but one staff member
that I spoke to thought that it was turned on when it is around 26 degrees celcius. The hippo statues are very popular as climbing equipment
and for photo opportunities even when the splash pad is off, so you can imagine how popular this area gets when the water is turned on.
The adjacent mini-aqueduct is on all year round. It has a hand pump which you can lift up and down to draw water into two parallel wooden
aqueducts. The first common section of the aqueducts is actually a boom that can swing from side to side, changing the destination of the water. The water can
either flow into three round dishes, or via a sluice gate over a water wheel. Next to these water features there is also a huge sandpit.
Above: The hand pump and wooden channels next to Hippo Beach
There is plenty to do at the zoo and in my opinion it is the best zoo in Melbourne because many of the animals are free to roam across wide
areas, giving the sense that they are less captive than at other zoos. The close encounters on the bus (graceful grazing giraffes, inquisitive ostriches, etc.),
and at feeding time for the lions (where I saw one jump onto the jeep bonnet, separated from several five year olds only by the glass barrier), are two of the
highlights. Specifically for kids there is a separate bus tour that runs once per day for kids, a playground, and a stage where you can mimic African dancing.
Essential Information Before You Go:
K Road, Werribee South, 35 km (approx. 45 min. drive)
south-west of the Melbourne CBD
By car, take the Princes Fwy (M1) to the Duncans Road exit. At the exit, follow the signs to the zoo and
head straight across Duncans Road into K Road. Pause briefly to see where some of your vegetables come from along K Road.
Travel south for 900 metres to the zoo turnoff (Main Road). By public transport, take a Werribee line train to Werribee
Station, then bus 439 which drops you right in front of the zoo entrance.
At Hippo Beach: public toilets, cafe, picnic tables, park benches, rubbish bins, sand pit, hammocks,
reclining chairs, thatched umbrellas, drinking fountain. There are various kid-friendly activities throughout the zoo,
including a playground next to the lawn area, directly left after you go through the entrance.
Baby change facilities:
Yes, in the Hippo Beach toilets.
Shade cloth over the splash pad. Various large trees around Hippo Beach. The mini-aqueducts and sand pit can
be in full sun for much of the day.
Yes, see the Werribee Open Range Zoo website for details.
The zoo is open 9am to 5pm daily. The aqueduct operates all year round, but the splash pad is only open
on designated hot days, notionally above around 26 degrees.
Wheelchair accessible paths, toilets and splash pad.
Do not drink the water, do not climb the railings of the real hippo enclosure nearby,
Werribee Open Range Zoo
Nearby attractions: Riverwalk Splash Park
Before you head out, make sure to read the water safety information
The marker indicates the location of the entrance to the zoo.
If you would like to leave a comment about this shallow water play area, please fill in the comment box below.
I'm particularly interested in your experiences after visiting, and any changes in conditions, etc.
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© Brad Neal 2017. All rights reserved.