ellaslist reviews Symbio Wildlife Park: One of Our Favourite Animal Outings is Now Even Cuter

  • Mums & Bubs

A Sunday well spent brings a week of content. I love this phrase because Sunday is my favourite day of the week with my family. When your Saturdays are dictated by kids' sports, grocery shopping, birthday parties, and fixing whatever needs fixing around the house, a day to ourselves is just what the doctor ordered before a busy week ahead.  

On this particular Sunday, we ventured to one of our favourite animal outings in Sydney that we've been eager to revisit ever since we heard that a new and adorable attraction had opened. Symbio Wildlife Park has been one of our go-to family outings for years and now there are even more reasons to visit since they've welcomed a colony of pint-sized penguins! 

Read on to find out more about the new family members, plus highlights of our visit to Symbio Wildlife Park.    

Symbio Wildlife Park: One of Our Favourite Animal Outings is Now Even Cuter

Symbio Wildlife Park review
Welcome to Symbio Wildlife Park.

When it comes to visiting animal parks in Sydney, our only prerequisite is that we'll get to actually see animals. We're not hard to please, really! Symbio Wildlife Park delivers animals galore, plus so much more for families. Animal feeding? Tick. Playground? Tick. Animal shows? Tick. Kids' animal programs? Tick tick!

We live around 1.5 hours away on the north side of Sydney, so there's always a sense of getting away from it all when we hit the road towards Symbio. Located in Helensburgh, Symbio Wildlife Park is at the foot of the rugged Royal National Park. Symbio is and always has been a family-owned and operated zoo. What started as a modest park in 1975 has expanded to 16 hectares of gorgeous manicured gardens that house award-winning animal experiences.

What sets Symbio apart from other animal parks is the connection to the animals you'll feel on every visit. The zoo's mission from the get-go was to place visitors up close and personal with their animals, and all I can say is, mission accomplished!

First Stop: The Conservation Breeding Lab

The tiniest turtles we've ever seen!

Did you know that Symbio has its very own breeding program? They have special breed-to-release programs for two of Australia's most endangered species: the Green and Golden Bell Frog and the Bellinger River Snapping Turtle. Stop by the Conservation Breeding Lab to see how these unique species are being introduced into the world. 

Next Up: Koala Cuddles

Symbio Wildlife Park review
Wait, did we accidentally dress like koalas?!

No matter how many times I see koalas, they just keep getting cuter and cuter. We always spend longer than usual visiting Symbio's real-life teddy bears because these are some active koalas! Whether they're jumping from tree to tree, stretching their arms, or even getting into territorial squabbles (one tried to share a branch with his buddy and it did not go well for him!), the locals at the Koala Sanctuary are always up to something. 


Symbio Wildlife Park review
Don't you dare steal my branch!

Meerkat Manor

Hi, Sergei!

Sergei and all his buddies were loving the warmth of the sun when we stopped by to say hello to the Meerkats

Even though their name suggests otherwise, meerkats are not cats at all. These energetic squirrel-like furballs are actually part of the mongoose family and come all the way from Southern Africa. 

Have you ever wanted to feed a meerkat? Now you can with the Meerkat Behind the Scenes encounter that lets you feed, cuddle, and enjoy meeting one of the most social animals in the animal kingdom. 

The Reptile House

Reptile House
The Red-bellied Black Snake

As much as we love our native Australian animals, the Symbio family includes exotic species from around the world, including loads of slithering serpents. 

All the usual critters are on display in the Reptile House such as snakes (some of the deadliest in the world, I believe!), lizards, crocodiles, alligators, frogs, turtles, and more.

If your kids are like my boys and love anything that slithers, they'll love the daily Reptile Shows where they can touch their favourite reptiles and learn all about their intriguing habitat. 

Playground Pitstop

The colourful playground.

We couldn't tear the boys away from the playground that pops up as you exit the Reptile House, and who can blame them - there's a flying fox, swings, climbing towers, trampolines, activity walls, and two slides!

The colourful playground.

Symbio's playground opened a few years ago but still looks brand new. As much as my boys love visiting all of their animal friends, the playground is certainly Symbio's MVP in their eyes.

Penguins on Parade

Little Penguin Exhibition
Little Penguin Exhibition

The highlight of this trip for me was the utterly adorable penguins! 

Symbio's new Little Penguin exhibition opened in 2023 and houses a colony of pint-sized penguins who couldn't wait to come and meet us. These active little swimmers are the smallest penguin species in the world and only grow to heights of around 33 centimetres - just over the length of a ruler!  

Symbio Wildlife Park Penguins
They were so proud to show off their new home!

Their new enclosure resembles a tropical lagoon with numerous spots to view them in action, including large windows showcasing their underwater grotto. And in action they certainly were - they were splishing, splashing, dipping, and waving at us as they looped around showing off their new home. My only complaint is that we couldn't cuddle these adorable little things!

Kangaroo Feeding

Symbio Wildlife Park review
Can we please take you home?

After we'd snapped numerous pictures and videos of our new penguin friends, it was onto the Kangaroo Walk Through to meet some kangaroo friends. 

The kangaroos at Symbio are Eastern Grey Kangaroos, which must be code for Loves Cuddles Kangaroos because they couldn't get enough of our cuddles. Granted, we were carrying full bags of food for them to munch on! 

The Kangaroo Walk Through is an open grass area for the kangaroos and visitors to interact with each other. They love munching on handfuls of food and won't say no to a gentle neck scratch.  

Life on the Farm

The Farmyard

Next up was more feeding at the Farmyard.

The Farmyard zone is massive with a beautiful (and very clean!) barn with goats, guinea pigs, and rabbits all eager to grab a mouthful of food from your hands.

Symbio Wildlife Park review
Feeding time at The Farmyard.

Symbio's layout is very well thought out because you never feel as though you're right on top of other visitors. The animal enclosures are all generous in size, and there are plenty of open spaces and grassed areas for picnics in the sunshine. 

Right next to the barn is a big undercover seating area with many tables and extra space for picnics and kids' birthday parties. And if you didn't have time to pack a picnic, the kiosk next to the water park is open daily with coffee, drinks, snacks, and hot meals. 

Picnic area
Time for a quick snack break!

Summer Splash Park

Symbio Splash Park
The famous Splash Park.

If you're visiting in spring or summer, you can't miss an opportunity to visit the famous Splash Park. 

The Splash Park is open all year round and my boys would've jumped straight in in the 14 degree-weather if I'd let them! The splashers, tip buckets, and jumbo overhead splash bucket keep the kids entertained for hours - trust me, we've visited in summer and didn't move for hours! Luckily, there is plenty of seating for parents, and the kiosk overlooks the park so you can put your feet up while the kids go crazy. The Splash Park is free to use as part of your entry ticket.

The kiosk overlooks the Splash Park.

Visiting Symbio Wildlife Park

Symbio Gardens
The picturesque manicured gardens are an attraction on their own.

Symbio Wildlife Park is located at 7-11 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Helensburgh and is open daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm (closed on Christmas Day). 

There is so much to see and do for the whole family, I'd recommend allowing yourself at least 2-3 hours to explore the whole park. To get even closer to the animals, there are several Behind the Scenes Experiences and Encounters that are well worth adding to your visit (at extra cost). 

School Holidays at Symbio Wildlife Park

But wait, there's even more to do at Symbio during the school holidays! Kids are invited to get wild during the July school holidays with their Junior Keeper Camp program

If your kids are passionate about animals, enjoy exploring nature, and crave adventure, the Junior Keeper Camp is the ultimate school holiday experience. They can step into the shoes of a real-life zookeeper for the day and discover the secrets of wildlife care, engage in hands-on animal encounters, and forge new friendships throughout the day.

Visit Symbio Wildlife Park to see what's on and for more information.

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