Australia is the only continent (and one of the only two countries – the other being New Guinea) in the world to still have all three of the major groups of mammals: monotremes, marsupials and placentals. Half of Australia’s mammal species are marsupials. South America has a few dozen species, all in the opossum family, and a couple of species have found their way into North America, but Australia is the only continent to have such a diverse range or to have marsupials as their most common and conspicuous land mammals. It is the only continent other than Antarctica to not have native hoofed animals, or terrestrial native Carnivora (dogs, bears, cats, weasels etc. The dingo appears to have arrived from Southeast Asia only about 4,000 years ago, probably with Indonesian traders. It is also the only continent to have rainforests but no monkeys.
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.