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