Melbourne Zoo

Zoo in North Melbourne & Parkville

Image by iso100k Getty Images

Established in 1861, this compact zoo is the oldest in Australia and the third oldest in the world. It remains one of the city’s most popular attractions and it continues to innovate, recently becoming the world's first carbon-neutral zoo. Set in prettily landscaped gardens, the zoo’s enclosures aim to simulate the animals’ natural habitats and give them the option to hide if they want to (the gorillas and the tigers are particularly good at playing hard to get).

There’s a large collection of native animals in natural bush settings, a platypus aquarium, fur seals, plenty of reptiles, and an entire faux–South East Asian jungle village built around the elephant enclosures. In some cases walkways pass through the enclosures: you can stroll through some of the aviaries and enter a tropical hothouse full of colourful butterflies. See if you can pass through Lemur Island without an internal soundtrack of 'I like to move it, move it' turning over in your mind. Sadly, the lion enclosure remains out of bounds.

In summer, the zoo hosts twilight concerts, while from September to May Roar ‘n’ Snore (adult/child $190/150) allows you to camp at the zoo and join the keepers on their morning feeding rounds.