While we were in Sydney, we took a tour out of the city to the “Blue Mountains”. On the way back we stopped at the Featherdale Wildlife Park, not really a zoo but more a refuge for injured animals and allows a more intimate relationship with the animals. Both Lisa and I had forgotten the joys of the zoo, screaming children, rare animals and a general atmosphere of joy. Established on 7 acres of land originally purchased by Charles and Marjorie Wigg in 1953, Featherdale has evolved from a poultry farm into one of the best privately owned wildlife parks in Australia. The Wigg’s son-in-law, Bruce Kubbere studied Australian fauna from early childhood and with his vision and encouragement, Featherdale opened to the public as a wildlife park in 1972. In the early years Bruce, and his wife Margaret, operated a plant nursery on conjunction with the Wildlife Park. Beautiful Australian native trees and plants now line the walkways and landscape the enclosures as a legacy of the park’s history. Featherdale works in partnership with many wildlife conservation groups. It is one of the only Wildlife Parks in New South Wales to be endorsed by the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF). Their support not only includes access to animals for study but also tree-planting ceremonies and providing animals for the AKF ‘Adopt a Koala’ Programme.
After tramping around the zoo for a few hours, we began to get hungry. The zoo has many kiosks and the kid friendly Taronga Food Market but for a sit down restaurant with a waitresses, great food and unbeatable views, The View restaurant is the place to go. Overlooking Sydney Harbour, The View is not only Taronga’s first a la carte restaurant but is also the first Marine Steward Council (MSC) certified restaurant in Australia. All of their seafood has been sourced from fisheries that promote and support the MSC guidelines for sustainable fishing practices. Designed by executive chef Sebastien Lutaud, The View menu offers a range of options from light snacks through to more substantial meals. The View is open from 10am – 4pm daily.
Taronga Zoo is Australia’s leading zoological garden, featuring Australia’s best collection of native animals and a diverse collection of exotic species. What makes Taronga something special is its location. It is situated on a fairly steep hill along the waterfront, on one of the most beautiful vantage points on Sydney Harbour overlooking Sydney Cove, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. As you zigzag your way along the paths among the animal enclosures, you are able to enjoy magnificent harbour views. The Taronga Zoo has its own jetty and you are able step off a ferry and walk directly into the zoo. From there you can take the gondola to the top of the hill, the fastest and most inexpensive way to visit the zoo. It is always best to start your tour of the Zoo from the top entrance. That way you’ll be walking downhill facing the harbor. You’ll then be continually surprised as you turn a corner and catch a different vista of the horizon. Then, when you reach the bottom you can catch the Zoo Sky Safari chair lift to take you to the top again and begin your downhill trek along a different path.