Join our zoo community

Zoos and Aquariums in Australia

Discussion in 'Australia' started by Tarsius, 19 Nov 2010.

  1. Tarsius

    Tarsius Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    1 Apr 2010
    Posts:
    187
    Location:
    Europe
    I want to travel to australia next year. I have a few questions to our australian members.

    1. Which is the best time for a trip to australia. I plan to come may/june, I think, it could be a good time, but I'm not sure.

    2. Of course I will visit all zoos and aquariums in Sydney ( is there more than the Zoo,the Aquarium and the Wildlife World ? ), I wills ee Melbourne and Adelaide, but which aother zoos and aquariums are worth to visit ? Maybe Seaworld Cold Coast ? Do they have still dugongs on display ? I think, they send them to Sydney Aquarium.

    3. What about Train connections between the mayor cities , or is it better to take flights ?

    4. Which are the best areas to see wildlife ?

    5. Which zoos do have great colletcons of autralian animals ?

    Thanks in advance for all your assitance !:)
     
  2. FriendOfTheZoo

    FriendOfTheZoo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    29 May 2010
    Posts:
    197
    Location:
    Hamilton, Vic, Australia
    May-June is Autumn/Winter. I guess it's as good a time as any. School holidays will be end of June.

    Sea World is good. Not much like Sea World in US - we only have dolphins, polar bears & sharks. No Orcas or Dugongs.

    If you're going Melbourne-Adelaide, You could do rail/bus. If you do Halls Gap Zoo is a nice small one in between. This Zoo is mainly Aussie animals as well as small primates & Ungulates.

    Flying is best I feel. It's a very large continent. The 3 eastern states have different rail gauges, so you must change trains at each border. Another option would be hire car/van. A LOT of backpacker hire "Wicked Campers".
     
  3. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    12 Feb 2009
    Posts:
    2,698
    Location:
    Melbourne
    The different rail gauges is not true. That has not been the case for 40 years or more.

    It all depends how much time you have, and what you wish to see. Flying is quicker for city-to-city transport, but you miss out on a lot by not travelling overland I feel.

    I would recommend against coming in May-June, and suggest instead that you come in September-October, which will give you the best balance of low humidity and reasonable temperatures in the tropics, and sun and the beginnings of the warm season in the southern states.

    If you were to come for a month, and knowing that you will visit Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, I would recommend some combination of the following:

    Sydney

    Taronga is a full day for a zoo fans. Sydney Aquarium and Sydney Wildlife World will take 3-5 hours, depending on how long you spend at various exhibits. Other smaller attractions in Sydney or surrounding cities are Featherdale Wildlife Park, Oceanworld Manly and the Australian Reptile Park. I've only been to the Reptile Park. To be honest, I doubt there is much there that you haven't seen before. Featherdale might be worthwhile if you want to see lots of native birds. You also want at least a day and a half for non-animal attractions in Sydney. Depending on your budget, a Harbour Bridge climb would be awesome. Then there's Bondi Beach if that's your thing. The National Maritime Museum is something I'm a fan of, too.

    Canberra

    Do consider going overland between Sydney and Melbourne, with a stopover in Canberra. The National Zoo and Aquarium is a smallish privately-owned zoo that might be good for 3 hours or so. But Canberra is also home to the national Parliament, War Memorial, National Museum, Questacon (a science museum) the Museum of Australian Democracy in the old Parliament House, the National Gallery and various other cultural centres. It's also a good stopover for the Australian Alps, which at that time of year would be excellent for hiking if that's your sort of thing. Taronga Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo is feasible as an overnight trip from either here or Sydney, but you'll need a car.

    Melbourne

    Again, allow a whole day for Melbourne Zoo. Melbourne Aquarium is probably optional - it's my home aquarium, but I'm well aware that it is not world-standard. Healesville Sanctuary will require booking a coach trip, unless you intend to have a vehicle of your own whilst you're here (which I actually recommend). Healesville is, by my reckoning, the best park for Australian natives. If you're into wine, Healesville is in the middle of the Yarra Valley, one of Australia's top two or three wine regions. A car would also be helpful for Werribee Open Range Zoo, which is much closer to the city but poorly served by public transport. At Werribee, consider the Open Vehicle Adventure tour for a longer, closer look at the hoofstock that are only accessible on the bus ride otherwise. Moonlit Sanctuary probably requires a private vehicle as well, but ask MRJ, its owner, for advice on visiting there.

    If you're at all into sport, try to be in Melbourne in the first two weeks of September and try to get tickets to an Australian Football League finals match. If you're in Melbourne between April and August, you'll easily get tickets to a regular season match. If you're here in late September, tickets to the Preliminary or Grand Finals would be difficult to get (impossible in the case of the GF) but still worth spending the afternoon in a pub watching the game.

    Ballarat

    About 100km northwest of Melbourne - about 90mins drive - Ballarat is home to the Ballarat Wildlife Park, a nice little collection of natives as well as some exotic reptiles. Also consider Sovereign Hill, a gold rush-themed tourist park.

    The Grampians

    Another excellent national park between Ballarat and Adelaide. Home to the small but rapidly growing Halls Gap Zoo, which would be a good 3 hour visit. But come to this area for scenery, hiking, waterfalls, wildflowers and wildlife.

    Adelaide

    Adelaide Zoo is third only to Taronga and Melbourne. Monarto Zoo is another open-range zoo about an hour outside the city, and 20mins out of the city is the reportedly excellent Cleland Wildlife Park, another native-focused park.

    Kangaroo Island

    South of Adelaide, a great place to see wild koalas, kangaroos (if you haven't managed to yet) as well as sea lions, penguins and other sea birds. I think there's also plenty of whales off the coast, although I'm not sure what time of the year that is.

    Alice Springs and Uluru

    Haven't been here, but obviously Uluru is a mecca for foreign tourists. Just resist the urge to climb it - it's taboo for the local indigenous owners of the site, who don't ban, but don't like travellers doing so. Alice Springs Desert Park, based around native arid region wildlife is supposed to be excellent. Consider taking "The Ghan" train from Adelaide to Alice, and then getting a coach to Uluru, which is "only" 500 or so kilometres away.

    Darwin and Kakadu

    The number one national park that I've never visited in my home country, but would dearly love to, is Kakadu. An October visit would, I think, be the beginning of the wet season here, so expect an explosion of wildflowers and wildlife. Darwin also has Territory Wildlife Park nearby, a sister park to Alice Springs focused on Australian tropical animals. You can now travel from Alice to Darwin as an extension of The Ghan service.

    Cairns, the Daintree, the Reef etc

    Probably best as a fly-in, fly-out sidetrip. Cairns Tropical Zoo and Cairns Wildlife Safari Reserve are the biggest of a huge number of small, privately-owned wildlife attractions in this area. Don't miss out on the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest.

    South-east Queensland

    You'll be shocked at how expensive Australia Zoo is for what it has on display. Australia Zoo is probably not recommended as a priority for your trip - depends how 'complete' you want your tour of Australian zoos to be. Underwater World on the Sunshine Coast is apparently Australia's second best aquarium. Brisbane has Lone Pine Koala Park, if you haven't yet had your fill of natives, and the Gold Coast has David Fleay Wildlife Park. It would be remiss of me not to mention Darling Downs Zoo, which is an hour west of Brisbane and owned by Zoochat's very own Steve Robinson. Probably my best recommendation for SEQ would be Sea World - dolphins, seals, polar bears, sharks, tropical fish as well, of course, as rides and other non-animal attractions.

    Perth

    This would have to be a plane trip across the country. It's 5 hours and not cheap, but they do have Perth Zoo (probably the least noted of the urban zoos in Australia). Margaret River, for wine and surfing, is a few hours south.


    You can do all of that in a month, though it would be a gruelling schedule. The "don't miss" trio is Taronga, Melbourne and Adelaide. I would strongly recommend Healesville, Sydney Aquarium and probably Sea World as well. Werribee is worth a visit while you're in Melbourne, and Monarto (though I haven't yet been) is worth a visit whilst in Adelaide as well. Western Plains Zoo is highly recommended, but a long way off the tourist track. Go to at least one of the Australian Alps or Grampians, and live my dreams for me by taking the train from Adelaide to Alice Springs and then on to Darwin.
     
  4. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    12 Feb 2009
    Posts:
    2,698
    Location:
    Melbourne
    Also I should have said something about trains. Yes, there are passenger trains that run between the major cities (Brisbane-Gold Coast-Sydney, Sydney-Canberra, Sydney-Melbourne and Melbourne-Adelaide are of relevance to this discussion).

    They are not high-speed rail services like Europeans would be used to - Melbourne to Sydney, for example, takes 12 hours. They are, however, much more environmentally friendly than flying. In terms of price, you *can* fly for less than it costs to get trains, but you have to watch out for special prices. Trains are cheaper than standard flight prices. Also, if you find sleeping in seats easy, you can take overnight services and get a night's accommodation as well.

    You can get to within 50km of every destination I suggested above on trains except for Kangaroo Island - even Dubbo and the Grampians. It comes down to how long you're willing to spend traveling. Even with KI, you can get a bus to Cape Jervis and then a connecting ferry to the island.
     
  5. FriendOfTheZoo

    FriendOfTheZoo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    29 May 2010
    Posts:
    197
    Location:
    Hamilton, Vic, Australia
    Oh my bad about the rail gauge thing. It was difinitely still all separate gauges when my Dad worked for the railways (20 years!), but then he finished up in 1990. I have only travel by train after this date intrastate.

    I did some research, and they've just announced that Stawell will be getting a rail station, so that'll be VERY close to Halls Gap when it happens. :)
     
  6. FriendOfTheZoo

    FriendOfTheZoo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    29 May 2010
    Posts:
    197
    Location:
    Hamilton, Vic, Australia
    If you're going to do more than one of the following Zoos, consider getting a "Friends of the Zoo" annual pass.

    Melbourne, Werribee, Healesville, Adelaide, Monarto, Perth, Taronga & Western Plains Zoo
     
  7. Jarkari

    Jarkari Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    24 Aug 2006
    Posts:
    1,525
    Location:
    Orange, NSW
    There are daily train and bus services to Dubbo (home of Taronga Western Plains Zoo) from Sydney. Qantas has also just launched it's brand new Taronga Western Plains zoo aircraft, which is covered ingiraffe and rhino and Dubbo is actually cheaper to fly to than other NSW regional cities that are much closer to Sydney) being home to the biggest tourist attraction West of the Blue Mountains and also a common stopover for travellers between Queensland and Victoria has plenty of accommodation. The zoo itself also has two accommodation options - Roar and Snore is the camping option where you will meet the native education animals and go on two walking tours behind the scenes (this is also available at Taronga but is very different.) Then there is Zoofari lodge which is a luxury tented accommodation with an ensuite overlooking the zoos savannah. you will get closer to the big animals (elephants, lions, tigers etc) at Zoofari and all your tours are on a bus, however Roar and snore will show you more animals and you'll get hands on with some native reptiles and possibly by that time mammals as well. Both very different and well worth it.

    If you are interested in going to Perth overland there is the Indian Pacific. Ghan does Adelaide to Darwin, Indian Pacific does Sydney to Perth. But this takes a few days so flying would be best. Our population doesn't really warrant highspeed train services so flying would be the better option.

    You may also be interested in the Blue Mountains home of the three sisters and apparently the Lithgow Panther. The Mountains are also home to Scenic World. There they have the Scenic Railway, the steepest incline railway in the world, through the bush, it drops you at the Scenic Walkway and the cableway which is the steepest cablecar ride in the Southern Hemisphere and it will take you back to the start.

    Hope this helps
     
    Last edited: 20 Nov 2010
  8. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands Premium Member

    Joined:
    20 Oct 2008
    Posts:
    4,417
    Location:
    Sydney
    Probably a bit cold then, especially further South. I'd suggest March, early April or - as mentioned above, September/October.

    As well as the others mentioned, Symbio Wildlife Park is just south of Sydney. If you go to Adelaide, I can thoroughly recommend Cleland - lots of natives, some excellent aviaries, free-ranging potoroos, and they have a Numbat!
    I was disappointed with Seaworld on the Gold Coast - $60 entry fee and while they have an excellent Shark Tank and Coral Reef, the only other animal displays are a pool with rays, Penguin Pool, Polar Bears, dolphins, and some injured pelicans and waterbirds. The seals are now only to be seen in a show "Fish Detectives" Fish Detectives | Sea World
    If you're on the Gold Coast then I would suggest ignoring Seaworld and visiting the Currumbin Sanctuary, or Fleay's Fauna Reserve (or both) instead. They both have plenty of natives.
    The dugongs are on display at Sydney Aquarium now.

    CGSwans' suggestion of Kangaroo Island is an excellent one, as you will see plenty of native wildlife there - and they even have some platypus!

    :p

    Hix
     
  9. Tarsius

    Tarsius Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    1 Apr 2010
    Posts:
    187
    Location:
    Europe
    Thanks Folks, for all this informations, many of them are very helpful to me.

    Hows the wheather in autralia in october ? I hope, sunny, less rain, but not to hot...Otherwise, I don't have problmes with heat.

    Unfortunately, I don't have a driver liscense, thats why I have to use public transportion. Thats why I've aksed for trains, so I hope to see on a long distance connection something of australias nature.

    If Dubbo is easy to reach by bus service from sydney, I will go that place also.

    I would like to see Healsville, but I don't know, where it is located, can it be reached by bus from one of the big cities ?

    Another question is, I know, australia is a good place to see white sharks, but I don't know, if there are any white shark watching tours similar to whale whale watching tours in other parts of the world. If yes, where can I do that ? And I think about a snorkling trip to the Great Barrier Reef, I don't have a scuba diving license, but I think, snorkling is possible.( without the white sharks, of course )

    Where are good places to see australian sealions and little penguins in the wild ?

    Thanks again in advance for your answers !
     
  10. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    29 Jan 2008
    Posts:
    1,072
    Location:
    Melbourne
    You can also access us by taking a Bunyip Tours (Melbourne Tours - Sightseeing Bus Tours Melbourne) trip to Phillip Island and the Penguins, buses leave daily. The tours have lunch here and you have about 45 minutes to look around. If you travel after daylight saving ends Bunyip also do a tour three days a week that visits the Penguins first and then comes back for our Evening Tour.

    Zoochatters on the whole are more interested in exotic animals and tend to ignore us, so I will blow our own trumpet. If you are interested in a truly interactive experience with native mammals at their most active then I have to recommend one of our evening tours. We have had numerous international visitors, including professional travel writers, tell us it is pretty much the best thing they did in Australia.
     
  11. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    23,189
    Location:
    not travelling
    the native animals are the exotics to the tourist Zoochatters :)
     
  12. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands Premium Member

    Joined:
    20 Oct 2008
    Posts:
    4,417
    Location:
    Sydney
    I believe there is White Shark watching available in South Australia, possibly from underwater within a cage (or is that in South Africa?).

    Australian Sealions can be seen on Kangaroo Island - tours take you onto the beach with them and you are usually only metres away from them.
    http://www.zoochat.com/674/australian-sealion-142791/
    http://www.zoochat.com/674/australian-sealion-142797/
    http://www.zoochat.com/674/australian-sealion-male-142794/


    You can also see little penguins on Kangaroo Island, at Victor Harbour on the mainland near Kanagaroo Island, and on Philip Island near Melbourne. If you go o the Australia - Wildlife gallery you will find lots more photos from my visits to Kangaroo Island earlier this year and in 2007.

    Snorkling is possible at many locations on the Great Barrier Reef, but getting there is the thing - the reef is many miles offshore. If you visit Cairns, then you can take boat rides out to the reef, or you can stay on Green Island and snorkel there - they have lots of marine life.
    http://www.zoochat.com/674/green-turtle-green-island-47960/

    Hope this helps.

    :p

    Hix
     
  13. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands Premium Member

    Joined:
    20 Oct 2008
    Posts:
    4,417
    Location:
    Sydney
    "Always blow your own trumpet, lest someone mistake it for a spitoon." ...... Anon.
     
  14. FriendOfTheZoo

    FriendOfTheZoo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    29 May 2010
    Posts:
    197
    Location:
    Hamilton, Vic, Australia
    You can see seals/sea lions at Port Fairy in SW Victoria. Philip Island is the place most notorious in Oz for Little Penguins.
     
  15. Jarkari

    Jarkari Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    24 Aug 2006
    Posts:
    1,525
    Location:
    Orange, NSW
  16. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    23,189
    Location:
    not travelling
    Healesville is just outside Melbourne. Take the train to Lilydale station then a bus from the terminus outside the station to the Healesville Sanctuary. Not all the buses go all the way to the Sanctuary so you'd have to check the timetables to find out the times and route number (I went in 2007 so its probably changed since then).

    I would second MRJ's suggestion to visit his Moonlight Sanctuary. I haven't been yet, but Australia's nocturnal animals are amazing and it should be a fantastic experience.

    If you have time the two best places to see a lot of native wildlife easily (in the wild) are Tasmania and the Cairns/Atherton Tablelands area, at opposite ends of the country obviously. And Kangaroo Island as already suggested.