Picture Australia and one of the first things that might pop into your mind is the iconic yellow diamond-shaped road signs along a red outback track with the outline – absolutely unmistakable – of a kangaroo. There is perhaps no other country with as many instantly recognisable native animals, and there’s nowhere better to see them than on their home territory.
The zoos in Australia are some of the best in the world, and they make a great day out with the family. Take the kids on a stroll amongst the weird and wonderful creatures found here and they’ll walk wide-eyed, not believing their luck at witnessing the animals they’ve only previously seen in books and on television in real life.
Take a look below for two fantastic options in the tourist hubs of Sydney and Melbourne, as well as the legendary Australia Zoo brought to fame by Steve Irwin.
This Sydney wildlife centre cares for 4000 animals and even the names of the attractions will be enough to get the kids super excited for the day ahead: Bear Canyon, Chimpanzee Park, Gorilla Forest, Wild Australia…all evoke fascinating worlds to discover and are just as good as they sound. What’s more, the zoo has views to match its exhibits: a giraffe poking its neck above the tree line and silhouetted against the skyscrapers across the bay is a spectacular sight. In fact, Taronga is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘beautiful view’. The zoo does fantastic work in conservation of endangered animals and is well worth a visit.
Australia’s oldest zoo, Melbourne’s animal conservation centre first opened its doors in 1862 and was voted the country’s best in 2014. Only minutes from the city centre, this is your chance to see one of the world’s most bizarre animals in real life – the duckbilled platypus – as well as tigers, orangutans, crocodiles, lions and more. Particularly exciting for young ones is the Growing Wild exhibit, which lets children between three and eight years old climb inside giant tortoise shells and look out for danger alongside the meerkats. Don’t miss the Australian Bush section, where you can spot koalas snoozing in the trees and the mischievous marsupials that are Tasmanian devils, as well as watching kangaroos bouncing around in the open bushland area.
Known as the ‘Home of the Crocodile Hunter’, the ongoing success of this Queensland zoo on the Sunshine Coast is a poignant testament to the late Steve Irwin, whose work along with his wife Terri brought renown to the zoo and led to it being named one of Queensland’s Q150 Icons as part of the state’s anniversary celebrations. Perhaps the main attraction is the Crocoseum, the world’s first animal stadium featuring snake, bird and crocodile shows. Visitors can watch crocodiles being fed and participate in elephant feedings themselves. For the true wildlife enthusiasts, you can book onto a Platinum Zoo Adventure that treats you to a full day of VIP indulgence and exclusive behind-the-scenes animal encounters.
So pack your camera and head to an Aussie zoo for animal encounters you’ll never forget, views and a slice of history!