With the NSW school holidays now entering their second week, my two girls Brooke (7) and Samantha (5) were getting a little bored, but luckily we had been given tickets to visit Taronga Zoo and check out their amazing Free Bird Flight Show.
We decided to make a day of it this trip, and catch the ferry from Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo. The best way to get to Circular Quay is by train, and the budget-conscious single parent can purchase a Parent Payment Single or Newstart pensioner concession card combined ticket. This also includes the Sky Safari gondola when you get there.
By car, taking the Ferry to the zoo was more expensive and time consuming than simply driving to the Zoo (for us out-of-towners, that's $40 just to park in the city, then a cab to Circular Quay), but the kids loved the novelty of the Ferry ride and the great Sydney Harbour views along the way. It was only fifteen minutes on the ferry, and then a quick trip up the picturesque Sky Safari gondola to the top of the zoo.
This trip, we made sure to get in early at the Zoo Shop and secure some tickets to a Taronga giraffe "Animal Encounter". This was something that we had enviously watched on our last visit, and were eager to try ourselves (tip - in the busy school holidays tickets can sell out, so buy these first thing).
The Giraffe Encounter did cost me an extra $24.95, but that price is for up to four people, and includes one souvenir photograph. The girls absolutely loved feeding the giraffes - it was a chance to get "up front and personal" with these gorgeous creatures. Watching them curl their long tongues around the carrots we fed them was great fun for all of us.
On our last trip we had missed the Taronga seal show, so we were determined to make it this time. It proved to be a very popular feature, with the line stretching for some way along the path, but it was well worth the wait. We eventually found our seats half way up the stands, but in a pre-show speech it was warned that the first two rows of seats were the "splash zone" - after that, there was no peace until the girls had found a spot at the very front! The show was great entertainment. The seals were just adorable, and there was even a guest appearance from a Pelican.
We took in some more wildlife, grabbing some fish and chips along the way, and then it was time for the Free Flight Bird Show. This great show was certainly all that it had been cracked up to be. I'm not sure exactly what we were expecting to see, but to have these majestic birds performing the most amazing feats was a real testament to the talent of their trainers.
Beautiful native parrots flocked over the amphitheatre, swooping the audience and landing wherever they were bid. Everyone in the audience was craning their necks around, hoping that the next swoop would be near them. It had you wondering - just how DO they get them to do that?!
We all had our favourite birds, but for the girls, it had to have been at the very end when they got to hand a parrot a coin donation for the animal charity box - a great way to empty Mum's purse of loose change! My favourite performer was the huge buzzard that showed just how clever they can be in the wild...well, I don't want to give too much away and spoil the show, but if you possibly can, do go and see the Free Flight Bird Show at Taronga Zoo for yourself - the whole family is sure to love it!
For a more fun and enjoyable day at the Zoo, visitors can download for free the new Taronga Zoo: Audio Tour. With over 30 tracks, this interactive app contains information on various animals, and includes a map as well as a day planner of keeper talks and shows.
Taronga Zoo is open every day of the Easter school holidays from 9:30am to 5pm.
For more Taronga Zoo information, visit www.taronga.org.au.