Passport to the Peel: A trip to the zoo and local sweet treats

There's no denying I love animals. If you read the last Passport to the Peel article, you would know how excited I got seeing a few of Mandurah's resident dolphins in the estuary recently.

So what better way to continue exploring our backyard than with another chance to get up close and personal with more animals?

From creepy crawlies to cute and cuddly marsupials, Peel Zoo has it all and it is the next stamp in my Peel region passport.

Perched on the banks of the Murray River, the boutique zoo offers a hands-on experience unlike any other I've personally been to.

I picked up my friend Tamara, who had never been to Peel Zoo before, and we hit the road - next stop Pinjarra!

It was a cool and cloudy Sunday morning, perhaps not perfect for a day of animal-spotting, but the car park was full and the zoo was bustling with families, couples and people of all ages.

Owner Ranger Red met us at the gates to take us on a personal tour of the grounds, which have never looked so good.

I've spent quite a lot of time at Peel Zoo since Ranger Red took over in September last year, keeping up with his exciting plans as well as telling his story of hardship during the coronavirus crisis.

I knew Red and his team had been hard at work while the gates were closed, but the zoo is seriously impressive and very welcoming.

We took a walk through the popular aviary and were greeted by friendly birds who perched themselves on our shoulders for a free ride to the other end.

We visited the Zoo's star attraction - a Tasmanian Devil who came running up to the fence to say hello, and Red told us all about the future expansion of the Devils' breeding program.

We were taken aback by the cuteness of the new Brushtail possum joey and a bunch of baby guinea pigs, and we got to meet some of the Zoo's newest additions - eight swamp wallabies.

There are also plenty of other exciting opportunities at the Zoo from holding reptiles - which I politely turned down - to tickling a ferret or hand feeding some of the farm animals.

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We finished up our exploring around morning tea time so, of course, coffee was the next thing on the agenda.

Despite having spent plenty of time in Pinjarra, I had never peered behind the bright coloured doors of Jarra Infusion.

Hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the main street, the cafe is set on the beautiful river and filled with mismatched furniture and hidden fairy gardens - all set to the perfect backdrop of live music.

As we sat and enjoyed a hot chocolate and raw Snickers slice, I closed my eyes and took in the sweet sound of soft guitars and lyrics about harmony and love.

The peaceful atmosphere was so comforting and made us feel like we were cuddled up in our own homes.

Before calling it a day, we wandered through Cantwell Park and jumped across the famous Pinjarra Suspension Bridge.

We explored Edenvale Homestead and took a walk through the Pinjarra Heritage Rose Garden, taking in the beautiful smells and sights of dozens of different flowers.

The new Passport to the Peel series will highlight some of the region's best travel experiences as I start ticking off my never-ending local bucket list and play tourist in our great town.

We would love to hear about your recommended travel experiences around the Peel region. Email with your suggestions.