Tuesday was the highly anticipated day we were going to Taronga Zoo!! and we were delighted that both the older boys were able to join us. Adding to the excitement was the fact we were traveling by ferry all the way; up the Parramatta River on the Rivercat and then via the Taronga Zoo ferry across the Sydney Harbour to the Zoo.
We arose early and drove to the Rydalmere Ferry Wharf in time to catch the 7:49am ferry. Parking at the ferry car park is free. Travelling up the Parramatta Ferry on the Rivercat was a magical trip that morning, we had the ferry to ourselves for most of the journey and spent much of the cruise at the bow with the wind in our hair and the river spray in our faces, a wonderful way to travel. The ferry stopped along the riverbank at various wharves with names like Kissing Point and Cockotoo Island. We so enjoyed the view along the shoreline and then, as we entered the Harbour, passed under the Bridge and saw the Opera House, magnificent!! Truly incredible!
We made perfect time and walked off the Rivercat, along the Quay and straight onto the Taronga Zoo ferry and immediately departed. Arriving at the Zoo shortly before its opening at 9:30am was perfect timing as we were able to stay ahead of the larger crowd all day, which we could see arriving on the next ferry. When researching costs prior to our visit I discovered group bookings for a minimum of 12 people, that’s us, so I had pre-booked.
Much to the children’s excitement we caught the Sky Safari Cable Car up to the top of the Zoo and they were able to add yet another mode of transportation to their ‘done’ list. The crowds were already building and considering the size of our group we decided it would be easier to break into three, the four oldest boys in one group, the three girls in another, and PC and I with the three youngest children, as I’d deliberately dressed the younger boys in red it made it far easier to keep them in sight all day. Each group had a phone which as it eventuated was a most practical and stress reduction choice. We often naturally met and merged on and off throughout the day but this way younger children didn’t slow down the older ones.
We all began by exploring the Reptile House, which boys and reptiles, was a success. We then walked the African Safarai which included; giraffees, zebras and meerkats. The giraffes were everyone’s favourite. Next up was the Rainforest Trail where we saw; monkeys, deer and elephants. Disappointingly the elephants were in the enclosure having their bath so we mostly only saw their hindquarters. Next up we wandered through the wetland aviaries and were impressed with the variety of birdlife. We detoured for the Seal Walk to see the; seals, penguins and pelicans. We then collapsed at a picnic area for a well earned lunch, yes we’d packed lunch we’d learnt well.
As we ate we watched people line up for the seal show for over an hour, we joined the end of the line just as the doors opened and managed to squeeze in. We found the seal show disappointing but perhaps that was in part due to the fact we couldn’t see well at the back of the crowd and the press of 1000 people wasn’t to our liking. Afterwards we decided to visit the sections not yet seen, various sections for our smaller groups. PC and I took the younger children to the Kids Trail, the girls headed off on the Australian walkabout and the boys to finish some parts they’d skimmed. We quickly found the younger children had reached their limit, besides farm animals and kangaroos were nothing new to kids from the bush, kangaroos graze daily in our paddocks. The boys arrived stating they’d had enough and the girls appeared declaring that the Australian Walkabout was nothing new they hadn’t already seen at home. Perhaps if we hadn’t recently had a koala visit their interest might have been engaged more, but for bush kids farm animals and Australian animals don’t hold a wow factor.
Deciding it was time to head home we searched for a site to take our annual family photos, it was the one day we were all together and I’d pre-prepared the children ‘this would be the day’. We ended up selecting the ferry ramp with the Harbour and Bridge in the background as the site. After I rashly declared I’d now be happy for the rest of the year the children promised to hold me to my statement, fortunately it was only two days to the New Year 😉
We retraced our steps back across the Harbour on the ferry, though this time we waited for some time to catch the Rivercat ferry and returned on a full ferry. This meant trip back wasn’t quite as enjoyable with so many people, but still a far pleasanter way to travel than via buses and trains. We certainly took advantage of the Opal Card cap of $15/day for adults and $7.50/day for children travelling the ferries. We arrived back at the boys exhausted but happy, thus concluded our ‘playing tourist in Sydney‘ stint.