Australian Animals at Every Turn

Australia is home to many animals that you won’t find anywhere else in the world like koalas, kangaroos and dingoes. There are a number of zoos around NSW, some of which let you get up close to the animals or invite you to stay overnight.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo
Obley Road, Dubbo, New South Wales – Australia |
Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo is a five-hour drive from Sydney or a one-hour flight and is home to over 4,000 animals. Meet Australian koalas and red kangaroos, as well as two giraffe calves who were born in January. You can feed giraffes, let meerkats sit on your lap, and go on a guided tour on the Savannah Safari truck to see the African animals. You can even stay the night in a tent or cabin to be up early with the animals.

WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo
1-5 Wheat Rd, Sydney, New South Wales – Australia | Phone. +61 1800 206 158 |
This easily accessible zoo is located in Darling Harbour in Sydney’s CBD and specialises in Australian animals. Meet Eastern Grey and Kangaroo Island kangaroos, plenty of koalas including joeys, a bare-nosed wombat and shy platypus. There’s also an adorable quokka called Davey and two endangered Tasmanian devils. Come early for a buffet breakfast in the company of the koalas and take a photo with them as a souvenir.

Symbio Wildlife Park
7-11 Lawrence Hargrave Dr, Helensburgh, New South Wales – Australia | Phone. +61 2 4294 1244 |
This wildlife park is located on the southern outskirts of Sydney, near the Royal National Park and lets you get up close to the animals. Take a selfie with a friendly koala, feed and pat an Eastern Grey kangaroo or wallaby on the grass and meet echidnas, wombats and dingo pups. There are also red pandas, meerkats and ring-tailed lemurs, amongst others. Splash Park, a water play area, opened recently so you can cool off after if you’re visiting in the warmer months.

Featherdale Wildlife Sanctuary
217 Kildare Rd, Doonside, New South Wales – Australia | Phone. +61 2 9622 1644 |
If you’re looking for native Australian animals, Featherdale is the place to go. Located in Western Sydney with free parking, you can visit koalas, tree kangaroos, pademelons, tiger quolls, wombats, dingo pups, owls and more. Book a ‘cute and cuddly’ encounter before your visit so you can have one-on-one time with a possum, joey and glider.

Shoalhaven Zoo
23 Rock Hill Rd, North Nowra, New South Wales – Australia | Phone. +61 2 4421 3949 |
This zoo is located on the banks of the Shoalhaven River near Nowra and has a wide array of both native and exotic animals. Visitors can book the Ultimate Aussie Experience and get up close to a koala, kangaroo, dingo, snake and crocodile. Other Australian animals living at the zoo are echidnas, kookaburras, possums and emus and there are also lions, turtles and capuchin and marmoset monkeys. The zoo is spread out over 16 hectares of bushland – take the time to explore the property on a walk that takes you through caves, across bridges and through rainforest.

Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park
1 Darkinjung Rd, Calga, New South Wales – Australia | Phone. +61 2 4375 1100 |
Australia’s largest working wildlife sanctuary can be found less than an hour’s drive north of Sydney. Animals such as emus and a range of kangaroos and wallabies roam over the 80 acres of bushland. There are also koala, dingoes, flying foxes, hairy-nosed wombats, birds and echidnas. Children can meet farm animals in the petting zoo. The best way to experience it is to stay overnight – the park offers safari tents (which staff set up for you) with hot showers and toilets or an eco-cabin if you’d prefer to stay indoors. Add a ranger-led evening tour to your booking to observe nocturnal animals, including Tasmanian devils.

Hunter Valley Zoo
138 Lomas Ln, Nulkaba, New South Wales – Australia | Phone. +61 2 4990 7714 |
Two hours north of Sydney, this smaller zoo is a great one for kids as it’s easy to explore with lots of opportunities to get friendly with the animals. The Australian animals include koalas, dingos, wombats and a range of wallabies, including an albino Bennetts wallaby. There are keeper talks every day and plenty of spots with barbeques to picnic. Feed and pat black and white ruffed lemurs, meerkats, and marmoset and emperor tamarin monkeys.

Billabong Zoo
61 Billabong Dr, Port Macquarie, New South Wales – Australia | Phone. +61 2 6585 1060 |
Billabong Zoo started as a koala breeding sanctuary and wallaby feeding area. Located in Port Macquarie on 10 hectares of bush, you’ll find koalas, quolls, wallaroos, wallabies, eastern grey kangaroos and dingoes and emus representing the Australian quotient. The more unusual animals to be found here are fennec foxes, which live in deserts in Africa. Feed wallabies in the Macropod Meadow and have a personal encounter with the endangered snow leopard – it’s the only zoo that offers this.

Potoroo Palace
2372 Princes Hwy, Merimbula, New South Wales – Australia | Phone. +61 2 6494 9053 |
This sanctuary in the lush South Coast town of Bega is completely not-for-profit and focuses on the care of native Australian animals. Meet its namesake – 30 long-nosed potoroos, which are the size of a small cat and have a thin nose they use for digging for truffles. Kangaroos and wallabies wander freely around the grounds, and koalas and wombats (which are closely related) live in a pen together. There’s an albino echidna called Luna, dingoes, emus and a tawny frogmouth. Dine at the on-site café that serves dishes made with locally grown vegetables and fresh eggs.

Taronga Zoo
Bradleys Head Road, Mosman, Sydney, New South Wales – Australia |
Sydney’s most famous zoo is well known for a reason – located in Mosman with stunning views across the Harbour, it’s a special place. There are 4000 animals at the zoo, including a baby Western Lowland Gorilla who was born in June and three Sumatran tiger cubs. Australian animals include koalas and red kangaroos and Southern Corroboree Frogs who are critically endangered. Kids will love the Zoo Adventures school holiday program where they get to meet the keeper and spend a day helping out.

Oakvale Wildlife Park
3 Oakvale Dr, Salt Ash, New South Wales – Australia | Phone. +61 2 4982 6222 |
Located in Port Stephens, two-and-a-half hours north of Sydney, Oakvale Wildlife Park is set on 25 acres of land. Australian animals include kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, wallabies, wombats, possums and a number of Australian birds and lizards. There’s a koala breeding and education centre where you can spend time with the animals, an on-site café and a water park next door. The centre recently adopted five new ring-tailed lemurs for their newly refurbished Lemur Island; book a private encounter to meet them up close.

Text and photos courtesy of Destination NSW

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