Bridget Kaitler wakes before dawn each day to start work at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo. The zoo is one of the top reasons why you voted Dubbo no. 46 in the Top 50 Aussie Towns. Here, Kaitler shares her top tips for exploring the town.
Find the complete list of the Top 50 Aussie Towns.
I relocated from Melbourne in 2015 to complete my Certificate III in Captive Animals and have worked as a zookeeper for the past six years. I love my work. When I first arrived at the zoo, my favourite animal was the lion. That’s since changed. Working on the conservation breeding programs has given me a greater appreciation for endangered animals such as the greater one-horned rhino, and our own greater bilby and the Tassie devil.
Zookeeper Bridget Kaitler at work. (Image: Taronga Western Plains Zoo)
I love the way the Tassie devil growls. And I love how cute and charismatic they are. A highlight of working here is hearing the primates do their territorial calls in the early morning. And watching the herd animals moving in packs. It’s an exciting place to work.
I work in Division 2 at the zoo which is mainly the Aussie fauna, big cats and primates. My shift starts at 7am. I start the day with a coffee at The Waterhole, which is near to the meerkat exhibit, which I have to rake out each day. If I’m in town, The Harvest is where I go to for coffee and breakfast. The Dahab Cafe or Short Street Store are where I go to for lunch.
Grab a cup of coffee from the Waterhole near the meerkat exhibit. (Image: Taronga Western Plains Zoo)
If I have friends visiting Dubbo from out of town, I take them for a picnic along the Macquarie River or to the Warrumbungle National Park. The Shoyoen Japanese Garden is a nice place for a picnic, too.
Pause for a picnic in Shoyoen Japanese Garden.
Being from Melbourne, I’m an AFL fan so I go to the South Dubbo Tavern to watch the footy when it’s on. The Pastoral Hotel or The Commercial Hotel are great fun pubs, too. If I’ve got a mate visiting from Melbourne, I take them to the Royal India Restobar, which is a favourite with locals. It’s fun. It’s got a nice atmosphere. Lots of ornate wallpaper, Art Deco chandeliers. I’d then steer them to the Monkey Bar, Down The Lane, or The Establishment Bar, which is a sort of speakeasy. The Devil’s Hollow Brewery is another excellent spot for a beer. It’s housed in a big shed in the industrial estate. It’s got great pizza.
Visit the Old Dubbo Gaol. (Image: Destination NSW)
The Old Dubbo Gaol is also really cool. It’s a great venue for pop-up events and festivals. Dubbo is halfway between Melbourne and Brisbane and the zoo gives road-trippers a great reason to stop.
Living in Dubbo has been great. The people are so down-to-earth and friendly. I love it here.