An­i­mal en­coun­ters

Am­ber ja­cobs dons her PJS to un­cover Aus­tralia’s best zoo sleep­overs.

Holiday with Kids - - Contents -

Get ready to don your PJS and un­cover Aus­tralia’s best zoo sleep­overs.

As the noisy crowds leave and the sun sets, a zoo be­comes an en­tirely dif­fer­ent beast. What bet­ter way to ex­pe­ri­ence it than on a sleep­over? Both at home and abroad there are many zoos, aquar­i­ums and wildlife parks of­fer­ing epic sleep­overs for fam­i­lies, with a va­ri­ety of hands-on an­i­mal ex­pe­ri­ences, ex­cit­ing torch­light tours and kid-friendly ac­com­mo­da­tion rang­ing from tents to lux­ury suites. Here are some of our favourites.

SEA LIFE Sun­shine Coast Sleep Un­der the Sea Mooloolaba, Queens­land

Chil­dren can ex­plore this aquar­ium in their py­ja­mas and see what SEA LIFE’S crea­tures and coral get up to at night. The school hol­i­day sleep­over ex­pe­ri­ence in­cludes a night tour, be­hind-the-scenes tour and seal pre­sen­ta­tion. SEA LIFE has im­pres­sive ex­hibits in­clud­ing an 80-me­tre-long Ocean Tun­nel where guests can gaze up at stingrays, vi­brantly coloured coral and eight dif­fer­ent species of sharks. After a night full of ac­tiv­i­ties and sup­per, kids will sleep soundly on the pro­vided mats be­fore wak­ing up to break­fast. un­der­wa­ter­world.com.au

Taronga Zoo Syd­ney Roar & Snore Syd­ney, NSW

Par­ents and chil­dren over five will love the Roar & Snore sleep­over. Im­merse your­self in the wilder­ness sur­rounded by bears, ele­phants and croc­o­diles, while soak­ing up the city sky­line. The ex­pe­ri­ence in­cludes a 1.5-hour night sa­fari and two in­ter­ac­tive keeper tours. View­ings and en­coun­ters range from ex­otic an­i­mals to evenings with na­tive Aus­tralian rep­tiles and morn­ings de­voted to friends such as koalas or per­haps in­sects and lizards. Pur­pose-built tents with elec­tric­ity and com­fort­able bed­ding will have the fam­ily feel­ing cosy and re­laxed, and there’s a buf­fet din­ner, break­fast and re­fresh­ments in­cluded. taronga.org.au

AQWA Shark Sleep­over Perth, Western Aus­tralia

Kids aged be­tween seven and 12 can spend the night in, or at least un­der, the sea, snooz­ing sur­rounded by colour­ful fish, sharks and tur­tles in the Aquar­ium of Western Aus­tralia’s tun­nel. They’ll get hands-on with ma­rine-themed art and craft ac­tiv­i­ties, and learn about the ex­hibits at night with an Ocean Guide. After a de­li­cious meal served in a trea­sure chest for din­ner, kids will en­joy a movie and pop­corn be­fore fall­ing asleep be­neath three mil­lion litres of wa­ter. Morn­ing sees these sub­ma­rine ad­ven­tur­ers sent home after a con­ti­nen­tal break­fast with a free kids’ pass to re­turn and a shark back­pack filled with good­ies to re­mem­ber their fishy night. aqwa.com.au

Ja­mala Wildlife Lodge Canberra, ACT

Ja­mala im­merses fam­i­lies in the Na­tional Zoo & Aquar­ium’s wildlife while they en­joy lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tion with mod­ern fa­cil­i­ties and be­spoke African decor. Be en­thralled by your an­i­mal neigh­bours, in­clud­ing gi­raffes, which stroll up to your bal­cony, and sharks that swim be­side your king-sized bed. Each Gi­raffe Tree­house wel­comes a fam­ily of four, while ushaka Lodge’s suites can house up to six guests. To stay, chil­dren must be over six with the ex­cep­tion of Fam­ily Fri­days, when kids over four are wel­come and of­fered an early din­ner and Aquar­ium tour while par­ents re­lax and en­joy din­ner. ja­malaw­ildlifelodge.com.au

Wer­ribee Open Range Zoo Slum­ber Sa­fari Wer­ribee, Vic­to­ria

Just 30 min­utes from the cen­tre of Mel­bourne, this zoo gives you the op­por­tu­nity to sleep over­look­ing the African Sa­van­nah. Eight tented lodges of­fer up to five guests a glamp­ing ex­pe­ri­ence like no other, and in­clude en­suite bath­rooms, elec­tric blan­kets and a bal­cony over­look­ing the pretty Wer­ribee River. As well as fall­ing asleep and wak­ing to the sounds of Africa, each guest can en­joy two days of zoo en­try, a hosted sa­fari ex­pe­ri­ence and an African-in­spired din­ner and buf­fet break­fast. Kids will also love the night-time ac­tiv­i­ties by the fire, es­pe­cially the roasted marsh­mal­lows. zoo.org.au

Taronga Western Plains Zoo Zoo­fari Lodge Dubbo, NSW

This in­cred­i­ble zoo in NSW’S Cen­tral West in­vites guests to sleep in style in one of the 15 lux­ury Zoo­fari Lodges, 10 of which fea­ture views of the gi­raffes, ze­bras and an­te­lope. En­joy the sun­rise from the deck, your dou­ble bath or in the salt­wa­ter swim­ming pool at the Guest House. Or for spa­cious, af­ford­able fam­ily ac­com­mo­da­tion chose a Sa­van­nah Cabin and fit up to six fam­ily mem­bers com­fort­ably into two bed­rooms and the open lounge area. For those fam­i­lies that want to get re­ally wild, Bil­l­abong Camp fea­tures per­ma­nent tents that al­low you to sleep un­der the stars and get close to na­ture. taronga.org.au

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01 Sleep Un­der the Sea at SEA LIFE Sun­shine Coast 02 Meet­ing the lo­cals at Bil­l­abong Camp, Taronga Western Plains Zoo © Clancy Job 03 Re­lax­ing at Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Zoo­fari Lodge © Rick Stevens 04 Gi­raffe at Ja­mala © Martin Oll­man 05 AQWA Shark Sleep­over 06 Bil­l­abong Camp at Taronga Western Plains Zoo05

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