With its low fences (except for the sumatran tiger of course!) and casual atmosphere, Symbio Wildlife Park is not your ordinary zoo. Instead, it is more like the giant backyard of a family who takes care of an eclectic collection of exotic and endangered animals.
I came across Symbio when I was desperately searching for places which would allow me to meet my favourite animal (the red panda) one on one. Although other zoos such as Australia Zoo and the National Zoo (in Canberra) allow a similar experience, the reviews I read of the personal atmosphere and treatment the animals receive at Symbio and the close location to my home made the choice for me. With that, I grabbed my mum and set off on a field trip south to the town of Helensburgh.
Getting here and around:
Symbio is a short 50 minute train ride from Sydney Central station on the South Coast line. After alighting at Helensburgh station, hop on a Route 15 (Helensburgh station to Stanwell Tops) Green Northern Coach service. Although some buses will drop you off right out the front of Symbio, for most buses you will need to alight at the Sri Venkateswara Temple, which is only a 1km walk from Symbio. As an added bonus though, you get to see what is most likely the nicest Hindu temples you'll see in Australia - just take a look for yourself...
Things to do
~ Enjoy the exotic animals ~
I would recommend a visit to Symbio over the more well known Targonga Zoo to both locals and visitors of Sydney, as it provides a much more unique and intimate experience. As well as the ambiance, Symbio Zoo also hosts many animals that you would have likely not seen before such as Leo the albino echidna ...
... or one of my personal favourite animals the cotton-top tamarin.
~ Feed adorable animals ~
I would recommend including at least one behind-the-scenes experience when you visit Symbio. They offer encounters with every animal from koalas, to tigers, red pandas ...
... and meerkats!