When we moved to Sydney in 2012,we were the tourists for a while so our weekends were spent exploring places and doing a lot of sightseeing which was great. We purchased a Merlin Annual Pass, and with that you get access to 11 attractions for unlimited use for up to one year. One of the attractions was the Sydney Wildlife Zoo at Darling Harbour. We used to visit the zoo all the time and as a family we loved it.
We often went on a Sunday, so it was quite busy but not overly crowded. My girls enjoyed going to all the different exhibits, particularly the Kakadu Gorge (Crocodile), the butterflies and wallabies. The Butterfly exhibit is amazing and if you’re lucky, some of the butterflies land on you. It’s a really fun experience and the kids love it.
We all really enjoyed Wildlife Sydney and would go back again and again.
It is easy to navigate and perfect for parents that have little ones and need to bring a pram. It’s very child friendly and even have parent room facilities. It isn’t too big like Taronga Zoo, where you have to do a lot of walking. All the exhibits are next to each other so it’s perfect for families with children and the elderly.
Here’s what you need to know about visiting Sydney Wildlife Zoo.
How to get to Wildlife Sydney Zoo
Wildlife Zoo is conveniently located on the Darling Harbour next to Sea Life Sydney Aquarium and Madame Tussauds. Both of these attractions are also included on the Merlin Annual Pass, so you could do all three attractions in one day if you wanted to. I wouldn’t advise it with little ones though. They can get tired with all the walking, but if you’re short on time then this is an option.
Getting to the zoo is best by public transport, but if you really want to take the car then there are lots of parking options close to the zoo, and if you are a paying guest at the zoo then you can check out the zoo’s cheap parking deals on their website, it’s around $12 a day.
You can also take the Ferry to Darling Harbour. The ferry departs Circular Quay Wharf 5 every half an hour, but it’s best to check the timetable for the full schedule on the Transport NSW website.
Another option is to take the Train. Wildlife Sydney Zoo is a short walk from Wynyard Station and Town Hall Station. Go towards King Street from Wynyard or Market Street from Town Hall, and then walk down the hill towards Darling Harbour.
Purchase your tickets online
It’s better to buy tickets online as you will save up to 20% on general admission price for the day. There are other tickets options that you may want to consider and purchase instead. You can find all the details on their website. We actually had a Merlin pass that we used. A Merlin pass allows unlimited entry to 11 attractions and is valid for one year from the date of purchase. I really recommend the Merlin Pass. It is such good value for money and if you have kids then you’re going to have something to do with them every school holidays which is a bonus.
A bit of background history
Sydney wildlife Zoo officially opened just under 13 years ago in September 2006, with construction work beginning in November 2004. The zoo is conveniently located on the Aquarium Pier at Darling Harbour, right next door to Sea Life Sydney Aquarium and Madame Tussauds.
Wildlife Sydney Exhibits
Wild Life Sydney Zoo is divided into 10 different sections with each of them having the following exhibits:
- Butterfly Tropics
- Devil’s Den (Tasmanian Devils)
- Gumtree Valley (Koalas)
- Wallaby Cliffs
- Daintree Rainforest (Cassowary)
- Kangaroo Walk-About
- Kakadu Gorge (Crocodile)
- Koala Rooftop
- Koala Rooftop Cafe
- Night Fall
Throughout the day there are feed and talk times that are worth planning your visit for. Some of these include the Wombat keeper talk, Tasmanian Devil keeper talk and Crocodile feeding. You can get a full list of all the talk and feeds on the website. These are absolutely worth coming to as they offer a fabulous introduction to Australia’s wildlife. The talks are very informative and the staff are extremely knowledgeable and will be able give you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have on the day.
For an additional charge you can have a more exclusive animal encounter inside the exhibits such as getting your photo taken with one of the koalas or having breakfast with the Koala’s (includes all-day admission plus a Koala Photo or even doing a full Australian wildlife tour which takes you behind-the-scenes and gives you the opportunity to get up close to iconic Australian animals. This also includes all-day admission.
They have a butterfly section that my kids loved. We would spend at least an hour in this exhibit trying to capture footage of butterfly’s landing on our heads. It was a joy to see the kids having fun. Tasmanian Devil is another exhibition they have. The Tasmanian Devil was once found in the mainland in Australia, but now it can only be found in the small Island of Tasmania.
On your visit to Wildlife Sydney Zoo, don’t forget to visit Ringo the Wombat. Ringo is the resident wombat. He was orphaned as a baby and adopted by Wildlife Sydney Zoo. To hear his story you can join the ‘Wombat Keeper Talk’.
Now to one of the main parts of the zoo is the Kangaroo section. I think this is the section most people look forward to because Kangaroos are indigenous to Australia.
The crocoldile section is another favourite with the kids. This section is huge with a below water section where you can get even better views of the crocodile and believe me… the crocodile’s huge!
Then there is the Koala exhibit. If you’re lucky you may get to see one that is awake because they almost sleep for 20 hours a day.
Food is not allowed inside
The zoo does not permit food to be brought in from outside. There are a couple of kiosks located throughout the zoo, serving a few snacks and drinks. There is also a cafe where you can purchase snacks, hot and cold drinks. It’s located in the Koala Rooftop Exhibit.
There are several places you can eat on the Darling harbour nearby to the attraction where you can go and sit down to have lunch. Be aware however, that if you purchase the single day ticket, then once you leave the attraction, you are not allowed to re-enter and will need to purchase another ticket. Your original ticket can’t be used to re-enter the Zoo.
What is there to do Nearby?
Darling Harbour has so any attractions and sights to see all in one place. It’s a great day out for the family or somewhere to bring relatives or friends that are staying over and you want to show them the sights.
If you go to Cockle Bay Wharf you will find an abundance of dining options to choose from. If you’re with a large group of people and wanting some options to choose from all in one place and at affordable prices, then you could go to the Foodcourt inside the Harbourside Shopping Centre. After some lunch maybe head on up and visit the Chinese Gardens of Friendship or the Sydney Aquarium, The Sydney Maritime Museum and the IMAX theatre are also popular attractions.
On Saturdays in the summer, the city puts on a spectacular fireworks show along the harbour’s shore and there are plenty of other free events during the year – Darling Harbour Fiesta, VIVID’s light installations and the Sydney Festival, just to name a few. It’s a good idea to check the website to see what’s happening on the day you plan to come. https://darlingharbour.com/
How to get here
Wildlife Sydney Zoo | Aquarium Pier Darling Harbour, Sydney, New South Wales 2000, Australia
Open daily 10:00am–5:00pm