We decided to check out the Werribee open range zoo during our quick visit to Melbourne this time. I had heard some great reviews on the zoo, so I was keen to check it out and its wheelchair accessibility.
The Werribee Open Range Zoo is about 30 minutes from Melbourne city.
Because we were staying in the heart of Melbourne city at the Melbourne short stay apartments, we decided to catch a train into the zoo. We caught the train from Finders st station on the Werribee line. From Werribee station, we then caught the 439 bus that took us to the zoo’s front door. The zoo bus departs every hour so it’s best to time the train and bus times to ensure they link up, so you aren’t left having to wait for the bus for too long. The train and bus are both fully wheelchair accessible options.
The Werribee Zoo is fully accessible throughout with wheelchair accessible facilities available. Facilities include accessible parking and accessible toilets with Changing Places facility equipment, including a tracking hoist and full-sized change table.
Most pathways within the zoo are cemented, but there are path areas that are gravel. This didn’t bother me in my electric wheelchair, but some wheelchair users might find the gravel a challenge.
We were able to get reasonably close to the animals on display and had a good view of the animals in their enclosures. The Werribee Zoo is large with a lot of land space for the animals to move around freely.
When visiting the lion enclosure, we were lucky enough to be there when the lion came right up to the glass and sat up on the car bonnet. The lion was such a poser, and it looked like it was ready for a photoshoot! Everyone was going wild trying to get a photo with the lion on the bonnet. But I did manage to zip in and get a quick picture with it.
The Werribee Zoo do offer animal encounters at the zoo such as The Lion Encounter, African Cat Encounter, Gorilla Behind the Scenes, Off Road Safari, Giraffe Feed Encounter and The Kangaroo Tales Experience, but I am unsure if these experiences are wheelchair accessible.
The Meerkat bistro /restaurant area was lovely and modern. It had plenty of space between tables for me to move around freely and is accessible via a ramp. The restaurant looked out into the meerkat enclosure where we could view the playful meerkats through the large glass wall while eating lunch.
I was excited to hear the Safari bus was wheelchair accessible at Werribee Open Range Zoo. The safari bus is included in the admission price and runs several tours throughout the day.
The bus is wheelchair accessible via an excellent little lift that is located behind the driver. I was very impressed with the lift and thought it was fantastic how the Werribee Zoo ensured the safari bus was accessible to all visitors, including wheelchair users.
Unfortunately, the safari trip didn’t turn out as I had hoped. Once I was loaded on the bus via the impressive little lift, I was locked in place via straps to secure the wheelchair. (Like in a taxi) I was asked to positron facing out to the right side of the bus. Unfortunately, once the tour started, I soon realised the animals were all on the left side, which was behind me and because I was locked in, I was unable to move or reposition. I spent the whole 40 minutes of the tour facing my back to the animals such as the zebras, giraffes and rhinos. All I saw were three long-horned cows and a couple of goats.
I was so disappointed. When arriving back at the safari station, the driver apologised and realised I was facing the wrong way and I couldn’t see anything. I appreciated the apology and his acknowledgement of the issue.
He did say he would report my experience and hopefully, they can come up with a better setup, so wheelchair passengers aren’t restricted to one side where there is an unlucky chance of seeing no animals.
Even though the safari tour was unsuccessful for me, we still had a great time at the zoo. We saw many animals during our visit, and I was able to get to all areas throughout the Werribee Open Range Zoo in my wheelchair without much difficulty.
To find out more about Werribee Open Range Zoo in Melbourne or to keep up-to-date with their latest news head over to their website or social media pages listed below.
In my opinion I give Werribee open range zoo a rating of 4 for wheelchair accessibility, and a rating of 4 stars for the overall experience .
* I was not financially compensated for this review. The review is based on my own opinion and personal experience.*