There was nothing to do last Sunday afternoon, so we decided on a two and a half hour drive down to Sydney to visit Taronga Park Zoo. The only tricky bit with driving was making sure you were in the right hand of three lanes when exiting the Warringah Freeway, so as to be able to get onto Military Road towards the zoo. If you are using Google Maps, it takes you to the staff entrance for the car park. Just turn left, and you will see the undercover multistory public car park. Take your ticket with you as you will need it to pay for parking before returning to your car. There is not an option to use a credit card at the gate.
Entry is through the beautiful old building in the photo below. You can go through the ground level entrance to the right of the steps.
Inside the entrance to the right is a ticketing office, toilets and information booth. You can wander around a large area here without buying a ticket, including the cafe and gift shop.
The women at the ticket office took our money ($46.00 each) and handed us a receipt. Keep this handy as it is your entry ticket and you will need it later. Maps of the zoo can be obtained at the information booth. Quite good maps, with the suggested trail to follow marked on. Even better, the trail is marked on the walking paths as big green circles.
Just down from the entrance is a series of manned gateways. This is the entry to the zoo proper. The friendly staff will ask for you ticket and stamp your hand. Then it’s off to explore.
The first animal we saw was this gorgeous tree kangaroo up in its tree. It was not very active and looked like it had either just woken up or was about to go to sleep.
Not far from the tree kangaroo was the reptile house. Basking outside was a Komodo Dragon. A very impressive representative of the world’s largest species of lizard. The rest of the reptile house has many cages and cases with numerous snakes, lizards and turtles.
Not far from here were the giraffes. They were very active, eating and walking around their enclosure.
The zoo is built on quite a steep piece of land near Sydney Harbor. Some of the pathways can be a bit of a climb, but there are plenty of rest areas and things to look at, so no need to rush and tire yourself out.
The squirrel monkeys are in a large open cage, where small groups of visitors can walk through on a board walk. The monkeys wander around, climbing and eating and generally ignore the people. It was excellent to be able to get close to them without bars or perspex in the way. A guide accompanies you into the cage, answers any questions you might have and makes sure you all exit before the next group is admitted.
On a detour from the main path of green circles, we went to see the Barbary Sheep, Bongo, Zebras and Himalayan Tahr.
There was a nice little mere-cat display. It was still early and they were all out scratching around the cage. The front of the enclosure is perspex, so you get a really good view of them. Many of them come right to the perspex.
Walking towards the elephant display, we by-passed the Australian section, as we have seen many kangaroos and wallabies over the years. Next stop was for a snack at the View Restaurant. We bought coffees for $4.50 each and sandwiches for considerably more. The coffee was very nice. The sandwiches though, despite the cost were dry, but we were very hungry and ate them anyway.
The gorilla and sun bears were nowhere to be seen, so we headed for the seal show. The presenter was overly enthusiastic, and we soon realized the show was tailored for kids. Nothing wrong with this and the kids there were certainly enjoying themselves. However, we decided to give it a miss and went to see the Condor, deer and seals (those not at the show). From the pathways, there are some spectacular views of Sydney Harbor.
From the seals we took the rain forest trail back up. This is a nice leafy area, and would be very nice on a hot day. This trail exits near the elephants. Two of them were having their morning baths and checkups with staff. This was an excellent opportunity to get quite close to them, and talk to staff. Even better, the young male trumpeted as he was leaving. Having never heard an elephant before, this was one of the highlights of the day.
After four hours, we decided it was time to leave for the car trip home. Car parking fees were $18.00. Getting home was straight forward. The only tricky part being (if you are heading north) is to make sure you are in one of the two right hand lanes when leaving Military Road for Falcon Street, as they turn right onto the freeway. If you get stuck in the left two lanes, keep going until you reach the Pacific Highway and turn right.
What did we think? Not too bad. Entry price was what you expect to pay. Parking is expensive as is the food. We were disappointed with the lack of range of animals. Particularly no big cats, gorillas missing in action and no visible bears. International tourists will be going to see the Australian section, which looks extensive. Locals will want Australian and international animals. I suppose it comes down to doing what you can with limited space and funds. Overall a fun day out, but we won’t be going back any time soon.