New South Wales Stories and Tips

Australia Day - Taronga Zoo and Beyond

The giraffes get fed Photo, Sydney, Australia

It was Australia Day and friend’s of ours, Greg, Julie, and their two kids, invited us to join them on a trip to Taronga Zoo and the city of Sydney.

We drove down to Milson’s Point in a feeble effort of finding a car park close to the action – the same idea as everyone else, apparently, and not advisable. Most of the street parking in the area is for residential permit holders only or for a limited time period.

From Milson’s Point we drove back to a Waverton – approximately 10 minutes drive up the road – and found a car park within a short walking distance from the station.

At Waverton city rail train station we asked the ticket sales person a thousand questions about which ticket would be most suitable for us to buy for the day and we came out of the office with a $15.50 all day travel pass for each of the adults and the same ticket, at a reduced price, for the oldest kid – the youngest kid was under 3 years old and therefore traveled for free. The tickets would get us on any type of public transport – ferry, train or bus – over the period of the day – just what we needed.

Our first trip of the day was a train ride from Waverton to Circular Quay – with a change of train at Wynyard. Circular Quay is where all the Sydney Ferries depart from. It is here we caught the ferry, out past the Opera House, across the harbor to Taronga Zoo.

The harbor was buzzing with all sorts of water vessels out celebrating Australia Day – from ferries, yachts, tall ships, speed boats, cruise boats and barges decked with balloons, ribbons, streams and happy people smiling, dancing and having a great time. It was great to be out in the middle of it, if only for a short while.

The day had started our a little bit overcast – which we thought was good because we wouldn’t end up getting to hot walking around the zoo. But, oh, were we wrong – the sun slowly burnt the thin layer of cloud away until there was nothing but blue skies above us and the sun bearing down. We entered the zoo at the bottom and rode the sky crane to the top. The sky crane takes you on a aerial route that overlooks a number of enclosures so you get an aerial view.

Visiting Taronga Zoo was still worth risking sun stroke for, especially to look at the new enclosures for the Asian elephants, the gorillas, the chimps and the big cats – it had been a while since our last visit. The majority of the animal’s enclosures have been upgraded and they are no longer struck in tiny little cages – so much better – although it’s a shame to see them in cavity anyway. We were on time to see the giraffes and some of the other animals getting fed. The mercats were a crowd favorite, as usual.

The aerial bird show was great to watch, but we had to stand at the back in the shade as it was too hot to sit on the bench seats in the sun. Large birds of prey – eagles, owls, and the like - flew freely overhead as a commentator told us all about them and there were also Australian natives such as cockatoos, galahs and corellas on show as well.

We were finally ousted from the zoo at closing time – 5pm – after a few loud speaker reminders that the zoo would be closing soon, you make your way to the gates.

After taking the ferry back to Circular Quay we decided we would take a return ferry trip to Darling Harbour to see what the crowd was like. This trip takes you out of Circular Quay, under the Harbor Bridge and around past the docks to Darling Harbor. It was about 6pm and people had packed themselves into Darling Harbor until there was hardly any room to move – you obviously had to be here very early to get a seat, something to eat or to do anything.

Our friends decided it wasn’t the place to go with little kids so we stayed on the ferry and went back to Circular Quay where we thought a return trip to Manly sounded like a great idea – getting of in Manly to grab a bite to eat for dinner.

The ferry ride to Manly takes approximately ½ hour each way and takes you down the harbor, past the navy dockyards and the neighboring suburbs, to the Sydney Harbor Heads and into Manly. We arrived in Manly in time to get some MacDonalds, for our friends to eat, and Charcoal Chicken and chips, for us to eat and find a seat on the wall that abuts the white sandy beach and watch the sun go down – well worth the trip for the sunset alone.

Here we go – back on the ferry again to return to Circular Quay which we reached at 9.45pm. You’ve heard the saying "All roads lead to Rome" – well in Sydney it’s "All boats lead to Circular Quay".

From Circular Quay we got on our last ferry for the night – the ferry to Luna Park (Milson’s Point). Luna Park is a large entertainment park with all sorts of rides, side shows and theatres and was lit up in its full glory. We hoped to cross over here to view the fire works, at Darling Harbor, from a safe distance but we were either too early or too late – no-one could tell us which.

While there we walked around the Luna Park side shows and watched the rides – you can do this for free – it’s only when you want to go on the rides or visit an area called "Coney Island" that you have to purchase an entry ticket.

At 11pm we finally made our way back to Waverton, via a train from Milson’s Point, and then to our car.

It was a great day out and we certainly got our $15.50 worth out of travel ticket.

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