Sydney is an awesome city for families and visitors who want to learn about Australian wildlife. With the Explore 4 Pass (AU$50), you get admission to Sydney Aquarium, Sydney Wildlife World, Sydney Tower and Oceanworld Manly. Once you go to the first attraction, the pass is valid for another three months so you can visit at your leisure.
The first attraction I visited was Oceanworld Manly. I took a 30-minute ferry from Circular Quay (pronounced “Key”) on a beautiful Sydney day. The air was crisp and the sky was blue. Leaving the wharf, there was an excellent view of Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
|Slide Album: Ferry to Oceanworld|
The ride to Manly was smooth due to the large size of the ferry. Seats are available inside and outside the cabin, but I recommend sitting outside at the front of the ferry for the best views. The ferry has a snack bar available on board if you get hungry, but you can also bring your own snacks.
Oceanworld Manly was just a few steps away from the ferry terminal along a wooden path. The facility was a bit small and similar to other aquariums I’ve visited. It’s main feature is a walk-through shark tank and some of the largest sting rays I’ve ever seen. They’re amazing to watch as they swim over you.
Right around the corner from Oceanworld is Manly Art Gallery & Museum. Admission is free so it’s worth it to pop in and have a look while you’re in the area. The space is small, but there were a lot of pieces by local artists and an interesting historical exhibit.
After catching the ferry back to Sydney, I went upstairs to the train terminal and rode for one stop. Exiting at Wynyard, I made my way down to King Street Wharf for a nice stroll along Darling Harbor atop a wooden boardwalk. I saw a lot of business people enjoying their lunch meetings in the sun, but I was glad not to be one of them.
At the end of the wharf, I found Sydney Wildlife World and Sydney Aquarium. Wildlife World is a small zoo that seems to house many native insects and animals. Many of the exhibits are indoors so this is a good option if the weather is bad. Near the entrance, there is a cool ant farm where you can see how busy they are. There are also large crocodile and kangaroo exhibits. It is probably best to visit the kangaroos in the early morning or late afternoon when they are more active. When I came through they were taking their afternoon siesta at the farthest end of their enclosure.
|Slide Album: Sydney Wildlife World|
Next door the Sydney Aquarium was much more crowded than Wildlife World so you may need to time your visits around school tours and holidays. The best part about the aquarium is the dugong tank in which you can watch Pig and Wuru swim from above and below. The aquarium also has a walk-through shark tank that ends with a small auditorium-like viewing area that’s amazing. Compared to Oceanworld, this facility is much larger with several zigzagging paths to maneuver through so be ready to do some walking.
|Slide Album: Sydney Aquarium|
A few blocks away, Sydney Tower looms above the city. When I went, there was a long queue as everyone waited for the Oz Trek experience, which takes you on a virtual tour of the country.
To view Oz Trek, you strap into a four-seat chair and leave your belongings on the floor. The chair rises up and you begin your jerky ride across Australia. If you get motion sickness or are pregnant, there are stationary chairs available.
|Slide Album: Sydney Tower|
After the ride, you must pass through a security check before you’re able to go up to the observation deck of the tower. The screening is pretty strict and you have to open your bags and walk through a metal detector. The views of the city are great and on a clear day you can see for miles. Unfortunately, unlike the Space Needle in Seattle, the viewing area is completely enclosed and you can’t go outside.
With the Explore 4 Pass, the city is yours. Four wonderful experiences at an affordable price is something you can’t miss out on in such an expensive city. The pass is a great way to spend time with your family and experience Australia’s native wildlife.