Zoos and wildlife

Enjoy the views of Sydney Harbour on ferries to Taronga Zoo and Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary. After shopping in the city centre, walk to Darling Harbour for an encounter with Princess, a southern cassowary, at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo. Meet Brian, a leopard shark, at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and feed four different species of shark on a glass-bottom boat ride.

In whale-watching season, cruises depart Sydney Harbour and towns on the South Coast, Central Coast and North Coast. Check the Wild About Whales website for top locations. The Australian Reptile Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is an hour’s drive north of Sydney, near Gosford. Featherdale Wildlife Park is in Sydney’s west.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo
Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary, Manly

Animal encounters in Sydney and NSW

Zoos and aquariums in Sydney are among the city’s most popular attractions – for adults and children. Even in the city’s parks and gardens you’ll see native birds such as rainbow lorikeets and sulphur-crested cockatoos.

Fruit bats roost upside down in the Royal Botanic Garden, water dragons bask in the sunshine near the beach and other waterways and whale watching is popular on coastal headlands.

In national parks, you may be lucky and spot kangaroos, wallabies, even timid koalas in their natural setting. There are guided tours in national and marine parks throughout NSW.

Taronga Zoo, about 12 minutes by ferry from Circular Quay, has a spectacular view across the harbour to the city. Among the many things to do at the zoo, youngsters will enjoy the bird and seal shows. Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary is home to sharks, penguins and lots more marine life, and is about 30 minutes by ferry from Circular Quay to Manly.

WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo and SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium are at Darling Harbour, a short walk from the city centre. At the zoo you can cuddle a koala and visit the den of Topsy the Tasmanian Devil. In the nearby aquarium, watch sharks and dugongs feed.

Beyond Sydney are two of the best zoos in Australia. Renting a car is a good way to get to these destinations. At Taronga Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo, in country NSW, you'll see lions, giraffes and elephants. Mogo Zoo, which is home to 42 rare and exotic species, is on the South Coast near Batemans Bay.