We go to Mogo

Many Australians will happily tell you about the epic fourteen hour drive they made between state capitals, leaving at some ungodly hour of the morning and arriving late in the evening. But do a twelve hour day trip of sightseeing (that’s twelve hours including actually seeing the sights) and they’ll look at you strangely.

I like to measure travel time in terms of the daily commute. That’s about three and a half hours now, down from almost six over a year ago. So six hours of travel is still no big deal for me if I get to do something fun as well.

It took us a about three and a half hours yesterday to get down to Mogo Zoo and the same to return. Yes it’s a bit of a way for a zoo that’s smaller than Taronga and not much cheaper (Melbourne Zoo would have cost the three of us less), but the drive was very scenic. A good opportunity for the whole family (minus the dog unfortunately) to have a day out together, unlike just Alex and me on our recent South Coast jaunt.

Mogo Zoo is near Mogo, a historic gold mining town just south of Batemans Bay. It is twice as far from Sydney as Bomaderry. As I mentioned in the last post there is plenty of pretty scenery along the way with the walls of the escarpment behind the rolling hills of green dairy farms. Rather than follow the coast like the railway the road is mostly inland and involves going up and down many hills.

Alex chattered away for the first half of the trip, enjoying the ride and the time with us. Then he finally fell asleep.

We stopped at Batemans Bay for lunch, saw the Orthodox blessing of the fleet. The limited number of food outlets on the main street seemed to charge a lot and I find the place, like many other NSW coastal towns, in lacking charm. Some of the small beachside or lakeside townships are probably nicer.

We enjoyed the zoo, though I think I would rather have visited the larger Melbourne Zoo again instead. On the plus side the zoo is smaller and more accessible than its big city cousins and you feel like you are quite close to many animals. For an additional fee ($100+) you can feed some of them yourself.

There were some interesting talks from keepers, especially about the Silvery Gibbons. Despite having lions, tigers and gorillas it was the small primates, the marmosets and tamarins that most charmed us.

Silvery gibbon

Red panda

Sumatran tiger

Pygmy marmoset

Golden-lion tamarin

Cotton-top tamarin

The zoo is heavily involved in conservation and reminded us of the devastation wrought upon the habitats of the primates and Sumatran tigers by the ubiquitous palm oil plantations of South East Asia.

Jungles and plantations were nowhere to be seen as Alex feed red deer and giraffes mixed with ostriches in a landscape than looked not too far from the African savannah, big clouds offering a dramatic backdrop.

It was hot and we finished a few bottles of drinks during out time at the zoo. Afterwards we stopped at the quaint little shops of Mogo to purchase sweets and ice creams, though I really can’t recommend the home made ice cream of the Mogo Ice Creamery.

The drive back to Sydney was under greying skies and in the beautiful golden light of the late afternoon. Once we hit Wollongong it was back to university days for B and I. I like what is now called the M1 motorway, along the top of the escarpment, through bush and flat scrub. The colours of the khaki landscape evoke something in me that I can’t explain.

We arrived home tired. It’s a pity that the recent cool weather meant the pool was too chilly to soak our weary bodies. But we all agreed that it had been a really fun outing.

Photos and video