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HOT: Dingo Discovery Sanctuary and Research Centre, Toolern Vale

The Dingo Discovery Sanctuary and Research Centre is a one-of-a-kind destination where children have the opportunity to get up close and learn about dingoes.

Lyn Watson and her late husband Peter founded the Dingo Discovery in Toolern Vale (near Melton) in 2001. Lyn travelled the world as an all-breeds dog judge but the dingo has mesmerised her since she was a girl. She is passionate about Australia’s misunderstood predator and attributes their endangered status to the farming lobby and governments.

The Dingo Discovery Sanctuary and Research Centre is set on 40 acres of backing onto state forest. On average there are 35 DNA-tested pure-bred dingoes at any one time, though the numbers increase every winter as the females bear their litters.

dingo discovery

Visiting the sanctuary is an educational experience. The dingoes are friendly and curious and Lyn and her volunteers share their knowledge freely and passionately. The sanctuary is best suited for school-aged children who can follow basic instructions while meeting the dingoes.

There are distinctly different varieties of dingoes that have adapted to different Australian climates, including tropical and alpine dingoes. Lyn believes the animals can make rapid and accurate judgments about people’s trustworthiness, so it’s a special feeling when a dingo approaches and seeks interaction.


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The Dingo Discovery Sanctuary and Research Centre is open for tours by appointment only. During July and August there are open days Saturdays and Sundays at 11am and 2pm. Bookings are essential.

HOT Tips:

  • visits by appointment only;
  • from July to September there is an open day every weekend 11am and 2pm;
  • Photographer on site during open days;
  • BBQ snack bar operates between 12.30pm and 4pm each day. Soft drinks, tea and coffee available;
  • Wear full covering and weather appropriate clothing and footwear;
  • Children aged 7-12yrs MUST be accompanied by a full paying Adult;
  • No child under 7yrs may participate in live encounters;
  • Please ensure you arrive promptly to your session to ensure you do not miss the important and necessary briefing/education session.
  • The sanctuary is about a 40-minute drive from the Melbourne CBD;
  • Free parking; and
  • The sanctuary welcomes dingo sponsors and volunteers.

Erika Jonsson is a communications specialist, former journalist and mother of two boys aged 5 and 9 years old. She lives in inner-city Melbourne and loves running, travel, cooking and reading.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. […] Dingo Puppy Encounter (Fri 10 Aug – 23 Sep) – Cuddle and photograph cute fluffy cubs and meet friendly dingo adults at the Dingo Discovery Sanctuary and Research Centre. Full review.  […]

  2. […] Dingo Puppy Encounter (Fri 14 Sep – 23 Sep) – Cuddle and photograph cute fluffy cubs and meet friendly dingo adults at the Dingo Discovery Sanctuary and Research Centre. Full review.  […]

  3. Visited the centre yesterday for the first time. What a great experience at a quite reasonable price. Very educational and enjoyable. Highly recommend this for anyone interested in nature.

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