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Molong to Dubbo drive

Thursday, June 24, 2010
Jules Lund took to the road to visit Dubbo Zoo in the central west of New South Wales. His drive wasn't all about visiting the animals — he was also curious to see the Animals on Bikes Sculpture Trail which runs along Banjo Patterson Way for 120km between Molong and Dubbo.

Animals on Bikes Sculpture Trail

Forty-five sculptures have been created by locals, ranging from small letterbox creations to sculptures 2m high. It was the idea of local Christine Weston. Little towns in the area were suffering and she thought the trail of sculptures would attract tourists — and she was right. The trail has even attracted international interest and press.

Cumnock & District Progress Association organised welding classes through TAFE Outreach for the farmers' wives, rent-a-farmhouse families and local enthusiasts who were keen to learn a new skill and create a masterpiece.

Apart from being a lovely thing for local families to be involved in, sculpture spotting is a good way to entertain bored youngsters in cars.


This historic country town in the hills of the Macquarie Ranges has a population of just 1570. It's at the centre of a rich farming district producing wheat, fruit, wine, sheep, wool and cattle. The main street is National Trust-classified and has many buildings from the 1800s.

Gelato factory

Molong is the self-proclaimed gelato capital of Australia. It's run by Giovanni Di Francesca and his son Robert and if their name is anything to go by they would know all about the delicious Italian ice-cream.

The Di Francescas use all-Australian produce and is sourced locally as much as possible. Fruit from local orchards, strawberries from Orange and macadamias come from Byron Bay, a little further afield.

Apart from making up ingredients for discerning gelato makers they have a shop front attached to the cafe. Choose from 30 delicious flavours any day of the week.


Only 24km further along Banjo Paterson Way is the little town of Yeoval, population 310. Yeoval's greatest claim to fame is that one of Australia's most famous poets, AB "Banjo" Paterson, spent his early childhood on a local property. There is a Banjo Paterson Memorial Site in the centre of town.

Western Plains Zoo

Home to more than 1000 animals, this is where you can see the animals while on wheels. The 300-hectare park is a wild and wonderful slice of Africa in the heart of New South Wales. You can drive, walk, ride your own bicycle or rent one and take a 6km loop that winds through the zoo. There is also 15km of bush trails meandering through Australian bush with lakes and waterholes.

There are no fences or visual barriers between you and the animals, so it really is an open-range zoo. They are more active in the morning so it's a good idea to visit early.

If you love cheeky-looking meerkats you can enter their enclosure but they must be the one to make the move if there is any touching to be done. These African native animals are curious little critters and communicate with a wide range of calls. Their teamwork ensures survival. Females take turns overseeing a creche as other are out fossicking.

Jules was chuffed to come face-to-face with the lions at feeding time. Sisters Njeri and Shinyanga were born at Mogo Zoo in southern New South Wales in 2002 and were joined at Western Plains Zoo by the male Jasiri who was born at Melbourne Zoo.

If you've never visited Western Plains Zoo, one look at their website will have you putting it high up on your wish list. If you have been already there are probably new additions to meet.

Jules has been to Africa several times and visited game parks, but has never had the privilege of being so close to animals as he was in the middle of New South Wales.

If you have a favourite animal, here are the best times to visit them as they are fed and various talks are given:
9.25am: meerkats
10am: black rhino shuttle every 20 minutes until 11.45am
11.30am: hippopotamus feed and talk along the fence near the Sumatran tiger
12.15pm: otter talk and feed
12.30pm: African elephant talk and meet Yum Yum and Cuddles
12.35pm: siamang apes feed — except Wednesdays
12.55pm: cheetah talk — fastest animals on earth
3pm: giant Galapagos tortoise — not the fastest animal on earth


From Molong to Dubbo in the west of New South Wales.


Gelato Ingredients Manufacturers is open between 9am and 5pm on weekdays and 10.30am to 5pm on weekends.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo entry is $45 for adults and $22 for children. Tickets are valid for two consecutive days. It's open between 9am and 4pm every day.

For further information

Animals on Bikes

Gelato Ingredients Manufacturers
90 Manildra Road
Molong 2866
Ph: (02) 6366 8288

Taronga Western Plains Zoo
1 Obley Road
Dubbo 2830
Ph: (02) 6881 1400
Fax: (02) 6884 1722

User comments
We as a family, love watching Getaway, but were extremely distressed and disappointed to watch Jules tease the lions with meat. Very uncool, Jules, not the kind of thing that we like to see. Wild animals should be treated with respect and enjoyed for what they are - wild, magnificent, proud, strong. Why would you want to portray them as anything less than what they were? Don't you understand what hate you build up in them when you tease animals? We really hope we're not going to see more of this behaviour on Getaway.
Molong is approx. 47km. to Yeoval. Not 24km. as stated in this atical.Cumnock would be only 24 km.from Molong.Otherwise this artical is bettergood.
Loved the segment on the Western Plains Zoo. DIDNT like the part where you were teasing the Lion before you fed him. Not a very good example to children who might be watching the program. I wouldnt want my child going to the zoo and teasing a fierce creature like that.
I was really disappointed to hear Jules compare the breath of the giraffes to seeing his aunts on Christmas Day. How degrading and embarrassing for his relatives. As an aunt myself, if my nephew had said this I would have been very hurt. On top of that, what would they say when he put his finger in a whole bucket of fresh gelati? I think the look on the owner's face said it all.

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