Taronga Zoo

Lonely Planet review

A 12-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay or a short drive from Manly, Taronga Zoo has 75 hectares of bushy harbour hillside chock-full of kangaroos, koalas and similarly hirsute Australians. The zoo’s 4000 critters have million-dollar harbour views but seem blissfully unaware of the privilege. The animals are well looked after, with more natural open enclosures than cages.

Highlights include the nocturnal platypus habitat, the Great Southern Oceans section, the Asian elephant display, and seal and bird shows. Animal displays and feedings happen throughout the day; twilight concerts jazz things up in summer.

Tours include Nura Diya , where indigenous guides introduce you to native animals and share Dreaming stories about them, while giving an insight into traditional Aboriginal life. Roar & Snore is an overnight family experience that includes a night-time safari, a buffet dinner, breakfast and tents under the stars.

From the wharf, the Sky Safari cable-car or a bus will whisk you to the main entrance (for free if you’ve got a ZooPass), from where you can traverse the zoo downhill back to the ferry. A Zoo Pass (adult/child/family $51/25/143) from Circular Quay includes return ferry rides, the bus or cable car ride to the top and zoo admission. Parking is scarce – take public transport instead. Disabled access is good, even if arriving by ferry, and wheelchairs are available.