My last full day in Sydney was another perfect one – warm and sunny, with a light breeze to keep me from sweating to death. I had another big day of walking in store, this time at the Taronga Zoo. I was adamant that I would not leave Australia without seeing a koala and a kangaroo, and since I was in the middle of a major city my best chance at seeing either was going to be at a zoo.

Taronga Zoo is across the Harbour from Sydney and can be reached by a 12 minute ferry ride. I caught the first Taronga Zoo Ferry of the morning and once again grabbed a spot on deck to enjoy the views of Circular Quay, the Opera House, and the Bridge as we pulled out. We were next to the much larger Manly Ferry (which I had been on the previous day) which was filled with people heading to the beach for the day.

Leaving Circular Quay by ferry again
Leaving Circular Quay by ferry again

When I got off the ferry I had a choice of catching a bus to the upper entrance of the zoo or walking down the street to the lower entrance. Since the majority of the people got on the bus I chose to go to the lower entrance to avoid the crowds. I was second in line for tickets.

Taronga Zoo Entrance
Taronga Zoo Entrance

Upon entering the park, I seemingly had it to myself for about 30 minutes. I was able to casually wander and see animals like the red panda, otters, and seals before I saw a single other visitor. The animals were out and active at almost every exhibit. Most of the animals on site are from warm climates and seemed happy in the warm late summer heat.

One of my favorite exhibits was the Asian Elephants. They have had a successful breeding program, and watching one of the young elephants blow bubbles and splash in the waterfall was pretty fun.

Asian Elephant at Taronga Zoo
Asian Elephant at Taronga Zoo

There were several other young animals throughout the park. Two baby gorillas entertained the crowd while one of their keepers told stories of their personalities and antics.

Gorilla Baby and Mama at Taronga Zoo
Gorilla Baby and Mama at Taronga Zoo

The chimpanzee kids were also a hoot. One guy kept playing with the human kids peeking through a small tube window.

Chimp baby meeting human baby
Chimp baby meeting human baby

And yes, I got to see a koala!

Koala at Taronga Zoo
Koala at Taronga Zoo

My favorite feature of the zoo wasn’t the animals, but the terrain and views. The zoo is built into the hillside above Sydney Harbour so while zigzagging through the trails and exhibits you get a constant view of the city and Harbour. I think the giraffes had the best view!

Giraffes with a view at Taronga Zoo
Giraffes with a view at Taronga Zoo

I took my time and visited every exhibit. By 2:30 (five hours after opening) I was done, and I hopped back on one of the regularly-running ferries back to Circular Quay. I hadn’t been too close to the Opera House yet so I decided to walk around it. I was fascinated by the tiles of the roof when I saw them in detail.

Sydney Opera House Roof Tile Closeup
Sydney Opera House Roof Tile Closeup

I finished up my day by picking up some souvenirs at the Rocks, then walked back to Darling Harbour for dinner. Once again I was exhausted after a day of walking in the hot Australian sun and collapsed in bed at an embarrassingly early hour.

I didn’t expect to enjoy my first trip to Australia so much. Since the primary reason for my visit was work I didn’t really plan ahead or think too much about the free time I built into the weekend. Playing it by ear and exploring the friendly and beautiful area around Sydney Harbour was definitely the right call for my first visit, and I recommend it to anyone. Now that I’ve had a taste of the country I really want to go back for a personal vacation and see more of it!

Sydney Harbour from Quantas Flight QF73
Sydney Harbour from Quantas Flight QF73
Sydney, Australia (02.28-03.07.2016)
103 photos
  • Day 1: Fighting jetlag by walking around Darling Harbour. This is looking back at my hotel (white building) - the Four Points Sheraton
  • Lots of groups and celebrations for Mardi Gras!
  • Walking around the harbour and looking back at the city
  • I wandered around the outside displays of the Australian National Maritime Museum.
  • Looking up Darling Harbour from the base towards Pyrmont Bridge
  • White Ibis wandering around like a seagull
  • I continued my walk through Barangaroo Reserve and made it to the Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • And eventually caught sight of the iconic opera house
  • I kept walking to stay awake, enjoy the views, and take in the beautiful weather. In all, I probably walked 10 miles on this first day in Sydney.
  • During the week I had to work, but my colleagues still took me to some great places like the Sydney Opera Bar
  • Watching sunset and the lights on the Opera House during dinner was pretty cool!
  • I had to try it. Ick.
  • Even during the week I managed to get some good views in - here's the view from the office I was working in.
  • On Friday night I decided to do some shopping in the Queen Victoria Building
  • The Great Australian Clock in the Queen Victoria Building
  • Glass in the Queen Victoria Building dome - this is much nicer than American malls!
  • McDonalds is testing Cadbury egg McFlurrys in Australia right now. I had to try one - even if it meant stepping into a McDonalds.
  • Friday night beer with colleagues at Darling Harbour.
  • I stayed through the weekend to enjoy the city. On Saturday I hopped on a ferry to Manly from Circular Quay.
  • Heading out of Circular Quay - this is the third cruise ship I've seen this week.
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge from the Manly Ferry.
  • Sydney Opera House from the Manly Ferry
  • Approach Manly - View of South Head
  • I walked the first part of the Manly to Spit Bridge walk.
  • Yoga on Paddleboards in Manly Cove
  • Pool in Jilling Cove
  • Jilling Cove
  • Looking across the cove to a part of Sydney harbour National Park
  • Pool at Jilling Cove
  • Watch out for spiders and lizards - I'm pretty sure everything here is supposed to kill me.
  • Low tide at the cove - lots of dogs playing in the water.
  • Walking into Sydney Harbour National Park
  • One of the countless beaches I passed
  • View from Dobroyd Head
  • Looking out at South Head and out to the Tasman Sea beyond
  • Looking back at Manly and the wharf where I came in on the ferry.
  • I walked up to Arabanoo lookout and saw some smoke. I think it was some controlled burns.
  • Walking down the trail here reminded me of hiking in Point Reyes or Big basin
  • Oh hai mr lizard. I saw these guys all week - Eastern Water Dragons
  • There were so many people and dogs out enjoying the beautiful day
  • I took many breaks to dip my toes in the perfect water.
  • I turned back after about 3.5 miles so that I would have time to visit Manly beach
  • The Yoga-paddleboarders were still out. The water was just getting more beautiful.
  • Next, I walked over to Manly beach after lunch at a local brewery.
  • Manly is a famous surfing beach but it was relatively quiet today.
  • I was there in the middle of the Australian Open of Surfing. I hoped the waves picked up for that afternoon's competition!
  • A bit sun-drenched and weary, I picked up a 3 pm ferry back to Circular Quay.
  • Despite being tired, I wanted to use all the time I had in the city and wandered toward and area called The Rocks. Above the rocks i the old observatory.
  • The astronomy major in me geeked out at the equipment and history of the observatory.
  • My only regret is that I didn't get out of the city to enjoy the southern hemisphere night sky.
  • The Sydney Observatory
  • The Sydney Observatory
  • The observatory helped keep passing ships calibrated.
  • The Sydney Observatory dome interior
  • The Sydney Observatory exterior with the gold ball that drops at 1 pm.
  • View of Sydney Harbour bridge from the Observatory
  • Next, I walked out the pedestrian walkway on the bridge to get the view of the Opera House and Circular Quay.
  • Opera House, Circular Quay, and a cruise chip.
  • Zoomer on the Opera House.
  • Pedestrian Walkway on the Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • In celebration of Mardi Gras, I got some cash from a GayTM.
  • On Sunday morning I got on another ferry. The ferry I'm looking at here is the one I rode to Manly on Saturday
  • Waiting to pull out on my ferry to Taronga Zoo
  • I head the Zoo in Sydney was great so I decided to check it out. After all, I didn't want to leave Australia without seeing a Koala and Kangaroo.
  • Walking to the zoo entrance from the ferry.
  • I started at the low entrance and had the park to myself for almost 1/2 an hour. First stop - red panda!
  • This guy was not in a cage - just another giant lizard running around.
  • The seal was having fun playing with toys
  • The Taronga Zoo definitely has the best views of any zoo I've visited! It's on a hillside, so as you climb through the different exhibits you get peeks of Sydney across the Harbour.z
  • They have a successful elephant breeding program, and I watched this one year old blow bubbles in the water. Too cute.
  • Baby elephant blowing bubbles.
  • Elephant
  • Monitor Lizard chilling on a branch
  • Hey I saw a kangaroo.
  • California Sea Lion. I came all the way to australia for this guy?
  • California Sea Lion
  • They also have a successful gorilla program and have two little ones!
  • Baby gorilla and mama
  • Curious baby gorilla, mama, and the silverback (to the left)
  • The other mama and her less curious baby.
  • Sleepy wombat. That is all.
  • Cassowary - beautiful bird.
  • Lemurs were hanging out in the shade. They looked like they were waiting for someone to bring them a cocktail.
  • Koalas look like grumpy old men.
  • Koala
  • Koala
  • Koala
  • The giraffes definitely have the best view in the park
  • Giraffe with a view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Giraffe
  • There were also baby chimpanzees clowning around.
  • This one was playing with kids on the other side of the viewing glass.
  • Pygmy Hippo
  • I can't remember what this animal is called, but it was described as a 'bearcat'. Good enough for me.
  • Green sea turtle
  • Ferry back to Circular Quay = more pics of the Opera House
  • Ferry back to Circular Quay = more pics of the Opera House
  • I decided to wander closer and take a look at the opera house
  • Up close, the roof tiles reveal a pattern
  • Glazed white granite tiles make up the roof
  1. Thanks so much for the trip account! If I can ever get better, world wide travel is on my bucket list! How and what all do they dine on down under?

    1. Pretty much the same as here, except they have this wonderful thing called chicken salt. Which is pretty much salt with chicken bouillon and MSG. It makes for great fish & chips.

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