Have you been to Sydney so many times that you feel like you’ve seen it all? Or have never holidayed in Sydney and are unsure what to do once you’ve ticked off the usual?
I’ve recently returned from a long weekend getaway, and my absolute favourite memory of the trip is a bit of a hidden gem.
Ever heard of the Roar and Snore?
Taronga Zoo overlooks Sydney’s skyline
Enter, stage left -Taronga Zoo. Known worldwide for its beautiful visage overlooking Sydney Harbour, Taronga Zoo also offers incredible programs for animal lovers. At Roar and Snore, we slept overnight at the zoo for a once in a lifetime experience.
Overnight? However do you mean? I hear you asking.
Here’s how it went down:
- Arrival at 6pm outside the gates of Taronga Zoo. It’s an intimate group of only 20 and the zoo is, of course, shut to the general public.
- We are taken on a tour of the zoo at dusk, accompanied by a soundtrack of lions roaring and monkeys screeching. If not for the spectacular sunset we see over Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, we’d think we were in the depths of Africa…
The view right outside our tent!
- Next, we make ourselves comfortable in our home for the night – an architecturally designed tent, complete with double and single beds (one tent per booking group, so no one shares with strangers).
- We watch the last rays of the sun go down whilst sipping on champagne and nibbling on cheese and crackers. The staff bring us a snake and several types of lizards to meet. As they say, one hand for eating and one hand for petting!
Meeting friendly reptiles whilst sipping on bubbly
- At nightfall, we begin our trek across the zoo, seeing animals looming in the shadows everywhere we turn. The staff have touching and hilarious anecdotes in turn about each animal we see.
- Roast dinner buffet is served.
- Night Safari number one and two commence. We meet martyr zebras, smelly mountain goats, African elephants, a naughty Pygmy hippo, and many, many more. The snow leopards may be elusive, but we do witness the tigers being fed.
- A cacophony of monkeys, lions, chimpanzees, gorillas and bird song greets us at 5:30am, but the magnificent sunrise can mollify anyone that might not have appreciated such a wild wake up!
- Continental breakfast – complete with delicious coffee or T2 tea
- Meerkats! Meerkats! Meerkats!
- Our first meet and greet of the day. We feed a herd of hungry giraffes – though Jimmy, tall even for a giraffe, seems to get the most food by reaching with his long neck (all giraffes are fed a proper breakfast later on).
The cheeky meerkats
Feeding Jimmy the giraffe
- The zoo is still shut, so we are able to get up close and personal with the exhibits. We see what’s got to be the most active koala in Australia, pat a possum, and meet a flightless bat, plus more.
- Our second encounter is with the sun bears. We are handed molasses, pine cones, eggs and nibbles to hide around the sun bear exhibit. Later, we watch as the sun bears enter the enclosure and begin to sniff out the treats we left. Magical!
- It’s sayonara to the staff, and we have to share the zoo with people once more as the gates open. We wander back to the big cats – most active in the morning, we’re told. An intense lion startles us as we’re looking in the other direction, and a tiger stalks children from behind his glass exhibit. Moving on, we pat some guinea pigs, but are thwarted by a smug rabbit and a fluffy chicken…
- We’re sad to leave, but the Roar and Snore animal encounters change each day – which means we can return for a new experience next time!
The silent lion that sneaked up on us
Catching the cable car all the way down to the ferry
The sunset that greeted us on our first evening
And that was that! If you’re looking to travel without kids, we went on a Sunday evening outside of school holidays – which meant our group was quite small. If you do want to take your children along for an encounter they won’t forget, Roar and Snore is very kids friendly! Visit Roar and Snore on Taronga Zoo’s website for all details.
Taronga Zoo is located a 12-mins ferry ride from Circular Quay. If you want to catch a train to the ferry terminal like we did, Museum Station in Hyde Park is closest to Club Wyndham Sydney and helps you beat the traffic!