The idea of a huge menagerie of wild animals – some deadly – living in natural habitats in the centre of a concrete jungle sounds too fantastic to be true.
But that’s exactly what’s going on Wildlife Sydney Zoo in Darling Harbour, next to Sydney’s CBD.
This unique interactive zoo comprises condensed versions of Australia’s iconic habitats, with a huge lineup of creatures in residence.
One of the biggest crocodiles on the planet lives here in his own gorge. There’s a bunch of kangaroos and koalas hanging out under the trees on the roof. Two snarling Tassie charmers called Oreo and Big John skulk in Devil’s Den. Their many friends and neighbours are a ‘Who’s Who’ of the Australian animal world.
Wild Life Sydney Zoo Experiences
A trek through Wild Life Sydney Zoo gets you tantalisingly close to animals going about their business in habitats that replicate real environments. The authenticity of these habitats makes it easy to forget you’re in the middle of the city. A lot of thought, effort and many truckloads of botanicals have gone into this place.
For instance, the crocodile enclosure looks so real, you could video it and claim you were in Kakadu Gorge. Same goes with Gum Tree Valley which looks and smells just like the gum tree forests on the East Coast of Australia.
Various interesting activities take place during the day at Wild Life Sydney Zoo, including feeding, talks by keepers, and animal encounters. There are also shows featuring various creepy crawlies and reptiles – some of them poisonous, which adds to the thrill factor.
For a bigger buzz, check out these add-ons on offer at Wildlife Sydney Zoo.
Wild Discovery Zone is a hands-on investigation into what’s going on behind the scenes. It’s designed to open kids’ eyes, minds and hearts to Australian wildlife, with opportunities to see and hold animals, and inspect bits of them under microscopes.
Koala Breakfasts are a great start to the day, kicking off at 7.30am with a guided tour of the zoo to see the animals when they’re at their friskiest and noisiest. A buffet breakfast is included, with koalas and a keeper for company, an informative chat about the furry guests of honour, and a photo.
Koala Encounters on the roof deck at Wildlife Sydney Zoo also provides photo opportunities. Although you’re not allowed to pet them, you can get very close. They smell like the bush.
For more information, activity timetables and online books go to Wildlife Sydney Zoo.
Taronga Zoo With a View
Taronga means ‘beautiful view’ and the panoramic vistas are just one of the highlights of a visit to Australia’s No.1 zoological garden.
Getting to Taronga Zoo is another. Start your zoo adventure with a fun ferry ride across beautiful Sydney Harbour, leaving from the city and disembarking at Bradley’s Head Road.
From the wharf there’s a short walk to catch the awesome Sky Safari gondola lift up to Taronga Zoo. Alternatively, get the bus. But the gondola is way more exciting. Sydney Ferries has a package deal that includes your return ferry fare, zoo entry and gondola ride. Some tour boat operators also offer package deals for Taronga Zoo.
Taronga Zoo is Magical
Taronga Zoo is a must-see for locals and visitors alike.
The zoo is spread over 17 beautifully designed and landscaped hectares, with Sydney Habour providing a glorious backdrop to many exhibits. (There’s a long-running Sydney joke that Taronga Zoo’s giraffes inhabit the most desirable piece of real estate in the country.)
The zoo is laid out with attractive walking trails, gardens and trees, making it very pleasant to wander from awesome exhibit to another, checking out the huge array of exotic and native animals. There are good spots to enjoy a picnic or takeaways, or simply relax and enjoy the zoo’s views, sights and sounds.
Taronga Zoo Must-do’s
It is possible to see and do just about everything Taronga Zoo has to offer in one leisurely day so long as you plan your visit and get here early.
Keep in mind that there are fantastic keeper talks, animal encounters and free shows scheduled throughout the day, including:
The Seal Show at Taronga Zoo’s new 950-seat theatre. This show is a blockbuster so arrive well before show-time to ensure you get a good seat.
The Free Flight Bird Show at the zoo’s amphitheater is informative and thrilling – especially when the show’s agile stars swoop just above over your head.
Photo opportunities – get your photo professionally taken with a giraffe, owl, reptile or koala. Bookings are essential. There’s also great Green Screen for virtual photographs with endangered animals – a must if you fancy a pic of yourself cosying up to a massive gorilla or rhino for this year’s Christmas card.
Guided tours and experiences – one of the best is Taronga’s Wild Australia Experience which is highly recommended for international visitors. The fee includes a two-hour tour with a keeper and close encounters and photos with animals.
For more information, timetables and bookings visit Taronga Zoo online.
One of the world’s most revered buildings, Sydney Opera House is a 21st century masterpiece, an iconic public artwork, a performance venue without parallel, and an idyllic spot for reverie on a sunny day or moonlit night.
Visitors to Sydney are sometimes surprised by how accessible this World Heritage building is and how casually it graces the lives of the locals. There are no gates, no guards, and no entry fees. Anyone can stroll down to the Sydney Opera House, take photos, walk around it, go inside to use the loos, or sun themselves on the steps.
But to truly experience the magic of Sydney Opera House in all its architectural and acoustic perfection, you should do a tour and catch at least one performance.
Sydney Opera House Tours
There are several tours to choose from, including one for people with limited mobility.
The Sydney Opera House tour is conducted in English and several other languages. It goes for one hour. There’s also a fascinating Backstage Tour that takes you behind the scenes to where the stars hang out and prepare for taking the stage.
Sydney Opera House tours are popular so be sure to book.
Sydney Opera House Performances
Sydney Opera House is one of the busiest venues in the world, with over 1,600 performances a year held in its six auditoriums.
Take your pick from a dazzling lineup of dance, drama and music from some of the most exciting and creative artists in the world today.
There are hundreds of other cultural events and gatherings held at Sydney Opera House, including a special program for kids.
For information about tours, tickets and what’s on, have a look at Sydney Opera House online.
Sydney Opera House Facts
The Sydney Opera House was designed by Danish architect, Jørn Utzon, who was inspired by disparate sources, including orange segments, boat sails and Chinese architecture.
Construction started in 1959, but the building didn’t open until 1973.
Utzon left the project in 1966. He never returned to Australia to see his building complete. He did, however, accept the commission for renovations in 2004.
In 2003 Utzon won the Pritzker Prize – the highest honour in architecture.
Sydney Opera House Famous Quotes
“The sun did not know how beautiful its light was, until it was reflected off this building.”
- Architect Louis Kahn, USA
“Sydney Opera House… represents multiple strands of creativity, both in architectural form and structural design, a great urban sculpture carefully set in a remarkable waterscape and a world famous iconic building.”
- UNESCO, 2007
“…it stands by itself as one of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativity, not only in the 20th century but in the history of humankind.”
- The expert evaluation report to the World Heritage Committee
Ideally you should allow at least a week to wallow in the ecstasy that is Paddington shopping.
A truck would be handy too, for carting home your haul of goodies.
But even if time and trucks are not on your side, a shopping trip to the spiritual home of Australia’s style aficionados is a pleasure not to be missed.
Slick, sleek, chic and eclectic, Paddington is a treasure trove of cutting-edge designer stores, intriguing boutiques, brilliantly creative emporiums, impossibly hip art galleries, high-end vintage shops and iconic specialty stores.
Mix it up with historic architecture, relaxed café society and funky pubs, and it’s no wonder Paddington shopping is number one for locals and visitors, alike.
Our advice: start at the top of Oxford Street and work your way down, taking in the side-streets as you go. Some try to do one side, then the other. This is virtually impossible as the temptation to cross the road to check out a just-spotted must-see shop is irresistible.
Along the two-kilometre ‘designer strip’ on Oxford Street, you’ll encounter a bevy of big names, including Sass & Bide and Willow at The Intersection, Dinosaur Designs, Ginger and Smart, Kate Sylvester, Lucette, Alannah Hill, Come as You Are and the fabulous High Tea with Mrs Woo, to name but a few of the very many.
If you love books, Berkelouw Books will make your heart thump. Its three storeys are fully loaded with cool books – some rare, some new, some secondhand. It’s open till late at night and there’s a great café upstairs. Also see Ariel Booksellers for the latest novels and tomes on art and design.
Don’t miss exploring William Street – off Oxford – on the right hand side, heading towards the city. Delicious discoveries include to-die-for lingerie at Elegantly Scant and hand-made delights at Just William Chocolates. White Suede, Nudie Jean Co. Concept Store and The Corner Shop are here too, along with Jac+Jack, Marourg, and designer cobbler Andrew McDonald.
Other must-visit Paddington shopping streets include Glenmore Road, South Dowling Street and Victoria Road. Also check out Five Ways Paddington just north of Oxford Street.
Paddington Shopping – Paddington Market
Famous Paddington Market is the showcase for up and coming talents in art, design and fashion. There are around 250 stalls to enjoy. It’s a sensational place to shop for original and beautifully made gifts for friends and family. The prices are good, too.
Paddington Market is held every Saturday in Oxford Street.
Western Australia’s South West Region has been named one of the planet’s top ten places to visit thanks to its extraordinary beauty and unique attractions – including The Valley of Giants.
The Valley of Giants is a forest of amazingly tall tingle trees in the Walpole Wilderness Area. It’s near the coastal towns of Walpole and Denmark, around four and a half hours drive from Perth.
You can get right in amongst the giants via the exhilarating Valley of Giants Treetop Walk. This one- of-a-kind experience takes you 40 metres into the tree canopy and along 600 metres of sky-high trail.
Needless to say, the views out over the treetops to the surrounding national forest are absolutely magical.
Upon coming back down to earth, you walk through a grove of veteran tingles called the Ancient Empire. Some of these babies are up to sixteen metres in girth. Several have trunks split in two with the path going between the ‘legs’, so you feel a bit like a hobbit in an enchanted forest.
Visiting the Valley of Giants
The Valley of Giant Treetop Walk is open 9am to 5pm daily apart from Christmas Day. However, due to the height of the treetop trail, it closes when it’s extremely windy. It may also close during electrical storms because of the risk of lightning striking the steel structures.
Attractions near The Valley of Giants
The Valley of Giants is a bit of a hike from Perth so it’s good to include other sites and activities on the trip. Fortunately there are several fantastic must-do adventures nearby.
Denmark Dinosaur World is just ten minutes from The Valley of Giants and well worth a visit. Its world-class exhibition of dinosaur skeletons includes a T-Rex and the horned dinosaur Protoceratops.
Conspicuous Beach just a few kilometres from The Valley of the Giants is a popular spot for fishing, surfing, walking (not swimming) and taking in spectacular views. You may even spot whales during the migration season.
Elephant Rocks and Greens Pool are 12 kilometres from The Valley of Giants. The rocks are spectacular. The sheltered Greens Pool is a heavenly spot for swimming, snorkeling and diving.
Mount Frankland is around 20 kilometres from The Valley of Giants. It has great walking trails including a short steep climb to the peak for exhilarating views over surrounding national park.
To find out more about The Valley of Giants, including current admission prices, visit Denmark Tourist Bureau
Nestled in the upper reaches of the majestic Swan River, 25 minutes from Perth, Swan Valley is a food, wine and art lover’s paradise.
It is WA’s oldest and most popular wine growing region, and renowned for its fresh gourmet goodies, beautiful landscapes, historic buildings, galleries and wildlife parks.
Things to do in Swan Valley
Swan Valley is full of fun and interesting things to see and do, making it the perfect destination for day trips from Perth.
Many lively cultural and culinary events are held in Swan Valley, with the biggie being October’s glorious Spring in The Valley – one of the largest wine and food festivals in Australia.
Tours of the region’s wineries are a must. The easiest way to do this is to follow the Swan Valley’s fabulous Food and Wine Trail. This 32-kilomtre scenic trip though gorgeous countryside takes in some fine distilleries, breweries and galleries as well as wineries, cafes, restaurants and roadside stalls brimming with just-picked produce. All up, there are over 150 places on the trail to satisfy your appetite for the finer things in life.
Other delightful Swan Valley tours include river cruises, guided walks, coach tours, and jaunts in horse-drawn wagons. These adventures can be booked online through the Swan Valley Visitor Centre.
Explore historic Guildford – one of Australia’s oldest settlements and the centrepiece of Swan Valley. Founded in 1829, this charming town has many heritage buildings, including WA’s oldest church and the fascinating Old Gaol. There are some great antique and second-hand shops to poke around in too.
Swan Valley Nature & Wildlife
Several of the state’s best wildlife and outdoor experiences are found in Swan Valley. Explore national parks, cuddle animals at sanctuaries, enjoy a picnic in a magical spot, wander along a nature trail, or go for a wildflower drive.
Caversham Wildlife Park is home to around 2,000 birds and animals both native and domestic. Feeding kangaroos, petting wombats, and riding camels are highlights of a visit to this beautiful park.
The Maze is another place where you can meet native animals, including emus and koalas. The 2,500 metre timber maze is lots of fun too.
Swan Valley Cuddly Animal Farm is a must-do for little kids.
West Australian Reptile Park in Henley Brook is the place to see and learn about Australia’s awesome snakes and lizards, and indulge in the dubious pleasure of being embraced by a python.
Have a look at some suggested itineraries for Swan Valley day trips.
Going for a cruise on the spectacular Sydney Harbour has to be one of the best experiences in Australia, if not the world.
The good news is that there are dozens of cruise operators who offer fabulous choices for Sydney Harbour cruises in all price brackets.
Options for Sydney Harbour Cruises
Just about every imaginable option is available. Sightseeing cruises, lunchtime sailing adventures, cocktails at sunset, dinner and dancing cruises, dinner-show cruises on vintage paddle-wheelers, night-time cruises, wine-tasting cruises, and more.
For just a few dollars, you can hop on the historic Manly Ferry. From here you’ll see the same amazing scenery and iconic sights as billionaires aboard a luxury chartered yacht.
Boats for Sydney Harbour Cruises
There’s a huge range of vessels for Sydney Harbour cruises – sailing ships, party ferries, jet boats, sleek catamarans, retro cruisers, floating palaces, you name it.
Some boats are so futuristically flash, so downright decadent that they have to be seen to be believed. There’s at least one with a glass ballroom offering 360° harbor views.
Many Sydney Harbour cruise boats are available for private charters. A charter gives you even more scope for fun and adventure, especially if you’re after something special in the way of cuisine, entertainment, destinations and stopovers.
Highlights of Sydney Harbour Cruises
A large percentage of Sydney’s must-see sights are best viewed and photographed from the water – including, of course, the harbour itself.
Renowned as the world’s most beautiful port, Sydney Harbour has 240 kilometres of shoreline and many picturesque islands. It’s edged by bush-topped cliffs, parks, waterfront mansions, coves, secluded beaches, and an astonishing line-up of famous sights and sites.
Sydney Harbour cruises can take you in for close-ups of Sydney Opera House, The Rocks, Circular Quay, Taronga Zoo, and Kirribilli House. Keep an eye out for historic Luna Park – it’s next to Sydney Harbour Bridge on the Northern side.
You may see dolphins, or even a humpback whale. If you want to spot whales during their migration, there are several Sydney Harbour cruises that will take you out to sea on whale watching tours.
No trip to Perth is complete without a visit to the gorgeous Rottnest Island.
This jewel-like island is just a short, fun ride by ferry, private boat or plane from the city, yet it seems a world away.
A ‘Class A’ Reserve, Rottnest Island is renowned for its breathtaking scenery, wonderful diving, abundant wildlife, postcard-perfect beaches, and its famous furry inhabitants – the quirky quokkas. These laid-back little marsupials are hopping around everywhere!
Things to do on Rottnest Island
Rottnest Island is the perfect place to swim, snorkel, fish, soak up some rays, or wine and dine at the water’s edge. You can hang out in Thompson Bay, where the ferry terminal and village are situated, but most people choose to go exploring as there’s plenty to see and experience on this historical isle.
The Day Tour of a Lifetime
There are no cars on Rottnest Island, which is part of its charm. So take the bus, walk, or cycle a hire bike (add a nifty trailer for the kids) around the tracks criss-crossing the island, which is just 19 square kilometres.
Allow several hours for your jaunt. Pack food and plenty of water though, as Thompson Bay is the only area with shops and eateries – and don’t forget your hat, cossie, snorkelling gear and sunscreen.
Along the way you’ll discover numerous beautiful bays with white sand and turquoise water, reefs teeming with amazing marine life, and lots of points of historical interest.
Check out the seals at Cathedral Rocks and watch out for dolphins too. From September to November, keep your eyes peeled for Humpback whales.
All Aboard for Adventure
Exploring Rottnest Island by water is popular – take a 90-minute boat tour or Whale or Seal Encounter. You can also hire a surfboard or stand-up paddle board for the day.
Hop aboard a small plane at the island’s airport for a memorable ten-minute scenic flight.
The kids will have a blast climbing, splashing, sliding and jumping on the floating ‘Just 4 Fun Aqua Park’ at Thompson Bay. They’ll also love the train ride to see the historic military hardware and tunnels at Oliver Hill.
Getting to Rottnest Island
You can cruise over to Rottnest on a boat, or catch a ferry or plane. Find out about travel to Rottnest, plus get maps and other essential information. Rottnest Island can get busy and visitor numbers are limited so it’s a good idea to book ahead.
Perth Zoo is open every day.
Being located just five minutes from Perth CBD, it’s easy to get there by car (park for just $5) or take the ferry from the Barrack Street Terminal.
Beautifully landscaped with majestic trees, water features and shady paths, Perth Zoo is a very pleasant place to check out native and non-indigenous animals. It’s also a top spot for a picnic so bring one from home or get a takeaway and a coffee from the Zoo’s cafe.
Who’s at the Zoo?
Over 1250 animals and 164 species live at Perth Zoo. A large number of them are part of breeding programs for endangered species, so there are usually some precious new arrivals to melt your heart.
If you’re new to Oz or visiting the zoo with friends from abroad, you’ll get a big kick out of being able to walk amongst kangaroos and wallabies. They’re free to hop around and get a pat and a scratch from visitors, so don’t forget your camera.
In fact, where ever possible, animals at Perth Zoo live in secure, naturalised habitats, designed for easy viewing and photographing by the human species.
There are four main zones at Perth Zoo:
- Asian animals – don’t miss the awesome Komodo dragons and Asian elephants
- Animals of the Americas – including Galapagos tortoises and several species of monkey
- African animals – including zebras, lions, and the rare Southern white rhino
- Australian animals – including koalas, dingoes and a fair few inhabitants of the Zoo’s fantastic Nocturnal House
Cool things to do at Perth Zoo
As well as strolling around looking at the amazing array of creatures doing their thing, you can catch special experiences at specified times – like watching the ‘primate walk-though’ and seeing the elephants get fed. You can also get eye-to-eye with a giraffe and a tasmanian devil – but not at the same time, of course.
There are also free guided walks and talks with keepers and volunteers who can fill you in on the role of this modern zoo and the animals in its care.
Plan your visit
Try to get to Perth Zoo early so you get a full day to see, learn and experience everything this fascinating zoo has to offer. The gates open at 9am.
For more information about the animals, conservation, new arrivals, the timetable for special experiences, and to buy tickets, visit Perth Zoo online.