On a family vacation to Sydney with a bunch of youngsters, we were guaranteed to find something for us all to enjoy in one of the most famous cities in the world. We visited Taronga Zoo and Featherdale Wildlife Park, where we encountered very different wildlife experiences but both fabulous in their ways. We share below in no particular order what to expect on a visit to Taronga Zoo and Featherdale Wildlife Park.
ABOUT TARONGA ZOO
Taronga Zoo’s history dates back to 1884 when the first public Zoo in New South Wales opened on a site called Billy Goat Swamp. Taronga Zoo was officially opened on its present site in 1916.
HOW TO GET TO TARONGA ZOO
Taronga Zoo is set on the spectacular Sydney Harbour, and the best way to reach it is via public transport with it being only 12 minutes from Circular Quay by ferry or a short bus/train trip from the city or North Sydney.
Travelling to the Zoo on the water offers the best views of both land and harbour. It gave us photo opportunities of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. The Ferry docks outside the gates of the Zoo travel to and from Circular Quay.
When you make the journey to the Zoo by Ferry, it is well worth travelling on the Sky Safari when you reach Taronga. Not only does it give you a bird’s eye perspective as you dangle above the park, but it also transports you from the bottom to the main entrance which saves your legs for lots of walking through the day.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The Zoo is 28 hectares, and the best way to see it is to grab a map and follow the green rings around, stopping to explore all the trails off this. Organise your day at the start by selecting the animals & shows you want to see as due to the size and depending on the ages of your children you may not see everything.
When it’s time for a break, the Taronga Food Market is located in the heart of the Zoo. We found this convenient and the “shop and go” style of dining catered for all appetites. It can become extremely busy, and seats can be hard to find, but the Zoo also has many picnic spots around the grounds.
With Taronga Zoo’s elevation, there are many spots for amazing photo opportunities. One not to be missed though is where the QBE free flight bird show is held. You have the amazing backdrop of the Sydney skyline, Opera House, and Harbour Bridge.
One of the four Zoo shops is well positioned on the way out for those souvenirs to remember your day or an ice-cream after a big day of walking.
LEARNING AND CONSERVATION
Taronga is a not-for-profit organisation supporting wildlife conservation. Taronga’s mantra is to achieve a shared future between humans and wildlife as many of the animals that Taronga cares for are threatened species.
To show further support and help some of the animals fighting for survival the Taronga Zoo has implemented the program where you can adopt your favourite animal. Choose from six animals and your adoption level (the amount you would like to donate). The funds they collect work towards research, assisting with conservation, breeding, and preservation of wild animals and their habitats.
OPENING HOURS AT TARONGA ZOO
9.30am – 4.30pm from May to August
9.30am – 5.00pm from September to April
9.30am – 4.00pm on New Years Eve
Taronga Zoo is open daily including Christmas day.
Visit the extensive Taronga Zoo website for more information, maps before you visit and purchase discounted tickets online instead of at the Zoo directly.
FEATHERDALE WILDLIFE PARK
ABOUT FEATHERDALE WILDLIFE PARK
Bruce and Margaret Kubbere opened the Park in 1972 on Margaret’s parents’ 7-acre plot, which had previously operated as a poultry farm. Featherdale Wildlife Park is now owned by Elanor Investors Group and is one of New South Wales finest tourist attractions. It plays an important role in many conservation efforts throughout the country.
HOW TO GET TO FEATHERDALE WILDLIFE PARK
Featherdale Wildlife Park is in Doonside, 40 minutes West of Sydney CBD. Driving directions can be found here.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The Wildlife Park hosts over 1700 Australian animals. It offers a hands-on wildlife experience as kids and adults can interact with many of the native animals and get close to others.
Hand feed kangaroos and wallabies;
Enter the farmyard sanctuary with the sheep and goats;
The reptile lovers will enjoy the reptiles and snakes;
If you love cute and cuddly, get up close and personal with koalas. There are few places where you can get so close to a koala for no extra cost.
PRESENTATIONS AND SHOWS
Even with the animals, you can’t interact with, the park’s exhibits allow you to be in a close enough proximity to feel as though you could. The presentations and feeding times are a great way to observe some of these other animals.
Watch the cute little Penguin’s at play; the pelican, flying fox, dingo, and Tasmanian devil feeding.
In the summer months, a popular exhibit is watching the giant saltwater crocodile lunge from the water at feeding time.
There is loads of appeal at Featherdale Wildlife Park and to be able to get so close to our native animals is a wonderful experience.
Featherdale Wildlife Park has a Café offering adults and children’s combo meals, an array of hot meals, wraps, sandwiches, assorted treats, snacks, hot and cold drinks. Alternatively, bring your picnic lunch and choose a shady picnic table around the grounds.
As the park is hands-on, this gives visitors fabulous opportunities to capture unforgettable moments on camera. From hand feeding the kangaroos and wallabies, patting a koala, holding a reptile and more.
Featherdale Wildlife Park has a large souvenir centre selling trinkets, keepsakes, clothing, plush toys, and more to help you remember your experience at the Park.
LEARNING AND CONSERVATION
Featherdale Wildlife Park plays a vital role in many conservation efforts throughout the country. Recent studies have been carried out on key species by universities and other zoological institutions to assist and identify many challenges facing wildlife.
The Park has some partnerships with government, non-government and, wildlife conservation groups to help with long term management programs for some of our endangered species. It is also one of the only Wildlife Parks in New South Wales to be endorsed by the Australian Koala Foundation, which is an organisation dedicated to the conservation of the wild koala and its habitat.
OPENING HOURS FOR FEATHERDALE WILDLIFE PARK
Featherdale Wildlife Park is open daily from 9.00am-5.00pm (excluding Christmas Day)
MORE AUSTRALIAN ANIMAL ENCOUNTERS
Australia is renowned for its amazing animal experiences and home to some unique species that you will not find anywhere else in the world. The ability to have close encounters with many of the animals is what draws visitors from far and wide. There are many zoos and sanctuaries around Australia to experience your animal encounter.
Share in the Comments. What are your favourite animal encounters?