Family Fun at Tasmania’s Bonorong Sanctuary

Family Fun at Tasmania's Bonorong Sanctuary pin

The Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is small but well worth the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Australia and Tasmania’s most famous animals. Bonorong is the largest day long animal rescue service on the island, and are completely funded by the entry fees.

The goal is to get every animal back into the wild, but that’s not always possible. In that case, the animal has a safe forever home at the sanctuary. The Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is also a tourist attraction providing education about these animals and the importance of protecting them.

Family Fun at Tasmania's Bonorong Sanctuary sign

What to See at the Bonorong Sanctuary

We went to visit the Wildlife Sanctuary during our cruise to Australia and New Zealand when we stopped for the day in Tasmania The main attraction at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is the animals of course! There are animals at Bonorong that are extinct everywhere else in the world, such as the Tasmanian devil, the Eastern quoll, the Tasmanian pademelon and the Tasmanian bettong.There are also plenty of stories of survival to tug on your heartstrings, like Thumper, the wombat whose mother was hit by a car but she somehow survived until she was found in the bushes a couple of days later.

Other animals include kangaroos, koalas, wombats, emus, lizards, penguins and more! During the public tour, guests will have the opportunity to pet a koala and a wombat, and the admission fee includes a bag of kangaroo food to feed the friendly roos! It’s not at every zoo in Australia where you can touch a kangaroo or koala, and they’re the perfect photo ops for you and your family.

A Family Day at the Bonorong Sanctuary chilling

Don’t Miss

If you have the time, definitely book a behind-the-scenes tour (if you book a behind-the-scenes tour, it includes complimentary free admission to the sanctuary)! These three special tours will get you up close and personal with the animals and you will see things that most guests do not. Kids might get a huge kick out of the Feeding Frenzy tour, which is two and a half hours and is customized like the Bonorong Night Tours.

It takes place during daylight hours and features the animal’s eating habits. To this day, our kids remember the crazy Tasmanian Devil that paced back and forth in its cage like some evil monster out of a sci-fi movie, as well as the kangaroo joey that was waving to the visitors out of his mom’s pouch.

Family Fun at Tasmania's Bonorong Sanctuary meet

If you can visit at night, the Bonorong Night Tour is a two and a half hour group feeding tour in which your group will get to help hand-feed some of the animals and learn more about the rehabilitation efforts of the sanctuary. This tour takes place after the zoo has closed, and a group of up to six people will have their own tour guide.


For a more customized experience, they have the Private Premium Night Tour, which is similar to the Bonorong Night Tour except that it is three hours long, exclusive to just the people you came with and included a glass of sparkling wine or juice.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Children who participate in the daily tour will have the opportunity to pet a koala and a wombat.
  • It is advisable to come before 11:30, firstly to get there before the crowds and secondly to get there while the animals are most active.
  • There is some food available in the gift shop, but there is not a fully stocked café on the site yet, which is important to remember if your kids are picky eaters or suffer from food allergies.
  • The ground is uneven and steep in some places, so wear comfortable shoes and prepare accordingly.
  • Because of the uneven ground, the zoo offers free admission for guests in a wheelchair plus one companion to facilitate the guest needing assistance.

Family Fun at Tasmania's Bonorong Sanctuary guide

  • For safety reasons, Seeing Eye dogs are not allowed in the sanctuary.
  • The kangaroos can be somewhat aggressive when you feed them and might scare your child. There are also free roaming kangaroos that can get aggressive if they think you have food, so it’s not advisable for little kids to feed the kangaroos unsupervised.
  • Bring hand wipes as you and your child might be touching wild animals.
  • Advise your child to ask staff before touching any animal.
  • The smells might be a problem in some areas for kids who are smell sensitive.
  • Teach your kids not to throw any foods or wraps into the animal cages, because this can hurt the animals.
  • Prepare your children for the many different sounds of the animals since some of them might be loud and frightening.
  • The average time to walk the entire zoo premises is about an hour, but allow an additional forty-five minutes if you decide to join one of the daily public tours.

A Family Day at the Bonorong Sanctuary koala

The sanctuary is a fun and education experience for the entire family. There’s a lot of interactivity unique to this zoo and you can get up close and personal to the animals and their habitats. Our kids got a huge kick out of petting and feeding all the animals, and it gave them a new perspective on the land down under.

Family Friendly Experiences in Sydney Australia

Family Friendly Aussie Experiences to Enjoy in Sydney pin

If you are looking for adventure, incredible scenery and an abundance of outdoor activities, I suggest you take a trip over to Sydney, Australia. What used to be a giant prison for Britain’s criminals has now become one of the hottest places to visit in the world. Full of animals, insects, and reptiles found in no other place, Sydney is a pleasant land that will engage you and your family. After visiting Sydney ourselves, these are the best autism-friendly places we discovered.

Sydney Opera House

The world famous Sydney Opera House is a sight that can never be forgotten. Sworn by hungry seagulls, you will take hundreds of pictures trying to get the right angle of the magnificent architectural wonder. There’s no way you can visit Sydney without seeing the Opera House. It’s a visually impressive sight from the outside. If you want to see the inside, there is a grand tour of the opera house that provides headphones so that each member of the tour can hear what the tour guide is saying.

Family Friendly Aussie Experiences to Enjoy in Sydney opera

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Come early if you want to take multiple photographs with no crowds in the background and your kid relaxed.
  • There are lots of bars and restaurants outside the Opera House, so you can quickly grab a meal after taking pictures or going on the tour.
  • The tour is rather long, so unless your son or daughter are avid architecture or history buffs, try to book the shortest trip possible as your child might not be capable of participating in a two-hour guided tour.

Sydney Harbour and Botanical Gardens

One of the most scenic and iconic harbors in the world is Sydney Harbour. With its unique architecture, landscapes, streets, people, and food, the harbor encompasses all of our five senses and more. You can spend days exploring the Sydney Harbour and never get bored. To get an all-encompassing perspective of Sydney, take the ferry right from Manly Beach to Circular Quay and expect to be amazed. Although we’ve seen hundreds of harbors throughout the world, Sydney is still one of the most magnificent sights travelers can witness. Try to take a cruise through the harbor at night, as it provides a spectacular view filled with lights.

Family Friendly Aussie Experiences to Enjoy in Sydney water

While you’re in the harbor, you must see the Botanical Gardens. Charles Moore, a Scotsman trained at Trinity College, Dublin, founded the gardens in 1816. The gardens are the oldest scientific institution in Australia and one of the most important historical botanical institutions in the world. It started off with the zoo and herbs, expanding over time into what it is today. There is plenty of space for kids to run around as you sit in the shade of the many trees, laying out a picnic for you and your family to enjoy. The gardens are free of admission and near the Sydney Opera.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This is THE place for your antsy kids to run around. There is plenty of shade, which is a huge advantage in the Australian summer. The gardens are a relaxing place for the entire family.
  • With a beautiful view over Farm Bay and Harbor, this is a great place to take selfies and snapshots.
  • There are crowds on the ferry, and you can end up standing. It’s not the best place to photograph the harbour from because chances are you’re going to lose control of your camera or balance.

Bridge Climb

The bridge climb is available to anyone ten and older who is in good health. You get strapped into a harness and then climb to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is a big tourist attraction and sort of a rite of passage when visiting Australia. There are three levels of intensity in the climbs from which you can choose. For newbies, the easiest is the Express Climb, which is a shortened version of the main Bridge Climb. The Bridge Climb is a three hour round trip through the entire bridge as is intended for more experienced climbers. Finally, there’s the Discovery Climb for those who are interested in the architecture and engineering of the bridge.

Family Friendly Aussie Experiences to Enjoy in Sydney leaf

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The climb is a physically intense experience. If you have a particularly active and adventurous child, this would be the perfect excursion.
  • Those who have a fear of heights or who can’t wear a harness should probably avoid this experience.
  • Once you start the climb, you can’t back out easily.
  • Before you go, watch videos of people who have done this posted on youtube, and explain to your child what this trip will entail.
  • You might want to take your kid to a rock climbing gym in your neck of the woods and practice before booking this trip.

Bondi Beach

This Beach is a popular Sydney beach near the suburbs of North Bondi and Bondi Junction. Bondi, an Aboriginal word meaning “water breaking over rocks,” was purchased by Edward Smith Hall and Francis O’Brien as “The Bondi Estate.”

Over time, Francis O’Brien took over the property, making the land available to the public. As the beach grew steadily more popular, O’Brien attempted to re-privatize the beach until the local government stepped in and made the area public in 1882. Since then it has been the site of many events, from Black Sunday to the 1907 Sydney bathing costume protests. It has been featured in many TV series and movies over the years.

Family Friendly Aussie Experiences to Enjoy in Sydney shark

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Bondi is a frequently crowded beach, so if your child has problems with crowds, it might be a good idea to visit a different beach.
  • If your child has a hard time with crowds, make sure you don’t come during a festival day. During festivals, the beach can become so crowded that you will not be able to find a place to sit.
  • There is lots graffiti on the walls. While this can be interesting to gawk at, there are no promises on what you or your child might see, which might include drawings and words that might not be appropriate. Take parental precautions in this area.
  • There are few transportation options into Bondi beach.
  • Just like in Manly and many Australian beaches, this beach has had some shark attacks. Keep your family as close as you can to the coastline.
  • If your child is not able to swim, be sure to bring them a life jacket for safety reasons.

Sealife Sydney Aquarium

The Sealife Sydney Aquarium is a public attraction located in Sydney on the eastern side of Darling Harbor. Architects designed the building to resemble a long wave. It is one of the world’s largest aquariums. Here, you can find over 700 species of aquatic creatures, and there are 14 themed zones, including the world’s largest Great Barrier Reef exhibit. The aquarium is well organized and flows from section to section. Each of the tanks has detailed information about the animals they contain, and the staff is more than happy to answer any questions you and your family have about the exhibits. A must see part of the aquarium is the glass viewing tunnels where you can walk underwater viewing the aquatic life swimming around you.

Family Friendly Aussie Experiences to Enjoy in Sydney dory

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Like many popular destinations, the Aquarium can be crowded. Many of the exhibits are spaced out, and the aquarium is large but crowds can still be an issue on some days.
  • If your child is particularly interested in marine life, they will love the glass viewing tunnels. The hallways through the tunnels are tight and can be cramped, however. If your child deals with claustrophobia or any fears related to being underwater, this might be something you will need to skip.

Cook Park

Another fun park would be the Cook Park, named in honor of Captain James Cook who was the first explorer from Europe to map Australia. Cook Park was also one of the first places where the convicts from the UK landed back when Australia was a penal colony. Today you will find several playgrounds, cafes, and restaurants plus many bike and skateboard tracks for you to enjoy. Cook Park is large enough to wander around the trails and enjoy the beautiful Australian weather. If you become too hot, you can always take a dip at the Brighton Le Sand Beach. This particular beach has no waves, so it is perfect for small children to splash about and explore the life of the sea.


Family Friendly Aussie Experiences to Enjoy in Sydney green


Autism Travel Tips:

  • There is quite a bit of walking. Wear comfortable, non-slip soles shoes.
  • It can get sweltering and muggy, especially in the summer. Check the weather before you go, especially if you are not used to the hot weather of Australia.

Taronga Zoo

If you are going to come to Australia, then you have to come to one of its many zoos, especially if you want to see the many indigenous species. Taronga Zoo opened in 1916 and houses over 4,000 animals of 340 species. The Taronga Wild Life Zoo offers exclusive behind the scenes meetings with koalas and has scheduled feeds, talks, and shows. The zoo is very interactive with a wide variety of animals that you can see up close. You can also visit Featherdale Wildlife Park where you walk around and have an interactive experience in a unique bush setting and meet kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas.

Family Friendly Aussie Experiences to Enjoy in Sydney kangaroo

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Be sure to take a ride on the sky rail.
  • Food is reasonably budget friendly at the zoo.
  • You can pre-purchase tickets online to avoid some lines.

Blue Mountains

If you are looking for a more outdoorsy adventure, then you might want to book a tour of the Blue Mountains. The mountains are densely populated by Eucalyptus trees, so it’s going to feel as if you are walking through a cough drop, but it is a beautiful place to hike with amazing scenery. You can also visit the Treetop Adventure Park. The park, which opened in 1998, aims to maximize excitement in a natural setting while having minimal impact on the environment. It is a large treetop rope course that allows you to climb, perform activities and in general have a great time.

Family Friendly Aussie Experiences to Enjoy in Sydney bridge

Autism Travel Tips:

  • There are some tours of the Blue Mountains.
  • Exploring the Blue Mountains is an athletically intense experience, so plan accordingly. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and pack a lightweight coat in case of rain.
  • This excursion is probably not the best outing for smell sensitive kids.

Unique Foods

Along with the specific areas, Sydney has unique food offerings for you and your family to try.

Kangaroo Pizza

It might be surprising to some, but yes, Australia’s most iconic animal is also one of its most talked about delicacies. Kangaroo to us meant Kanga and Roo from the Winnie the Pooh books, so we were fairly apprehensive about trying the pizza. However, it is considered one of Australia’s most famous dishes, so we knew we had to try it.

The pizza was very chewy, and we would only recommend it for texture loving, adventurous kids. I remember it being a bit smelly as well, so smell-sensitive kids with autism should think twice about ordering this item. You can also find Kangaroo burgers if that’s something you or your child likes.

Family Friendly Experiences in Sydney Australia koala

Shrimp on the Barbie

You’ve likely heard the phrase “shrimp on the barbie” at some point in your life, especially if you’ve ever watched Paul Hogan’s Crocodile Dundee franchise. Shrimp on the Barbie is several shrimps on a skewer, covered in oils and juices and cooked on an outdoor grill. It’s a quick, easy and delicious meal that is associated with Australia, although interestingly enough native Australians are more likely to call shrimp “prawns.”

Family Friendly Aussie Experiences to Enjoy in Sydney fish


Vegemite is scrumptious if you are stripped of your sense of taste and smell. According to Wikipedia, it is comparable to beef bouillion. Our son with autism, who is a little more direct, described it as a cross-section between morning breath and vomit, so it’s clearly not for everyone. It is made from leftover brewer’s yeast that is flavored with spice additives and is typically spread on bread, biscuits, and pastries. Cyril P. Callister developed the paste in 1919. when he was hired by Fred Walker’s company to develop a spread from the leftover brewer’s yeast. After its initial launch, vegemite got its name from a randomized local competition.

Sydney is a diverse and exciting place to explore for families. Whether it’s for the day trip on a cruise, or for an entire week, it is worth the time because it has so much to offer for all ages.

Q&A with Gisela Sedlmayer author of ‘Talon’



Q&A with Gisela Sedlmayer- author of 'Talon' mountains


What made you choose a special needs person as the main character in your story?

I love birds, so I wanted to write a story about a girl who flies with birds. However, the girl had to be small enough to fly, so she had to be a special needs girl.We adopted twin girls from Fiji as special needs children when we lived in New Zealand. They are not disabled, but they are schooled as special needs because they can’t be separated. I understand the hardships a special needs child suffers – I was bullied in school because I needed glasses at a very early age – and I wanted to bring that out in my book.

Q&A with Gisela Sedlmayer- author of 'Talon' Andes

Why is South America  the background for your story?

I have always loved condors, and they have fascinated me for a very long time. They are also one of the only birds large enough for Matica – the main character – to ride. Peru was the best location because of the condors.

Q&A with Gisela Sedlmayer- author of 'Talon' lakefront

Will your heroes be traveling to other countries or continents in the sequels?

Yes, in the course of my five books Matica will travel. She will go to Australia to see her relatives on holiday where she will receive treatment to grow taller. When she comes back, she will be too big to fly on Talon, the condor, anymore. However, Matica will find out that she loves music, and learns the mouth organ in Australia. She will also go on a church trip to India for a year to relieve another missionary, and there she will encounter tigers and befriend one, as she did with the condors.


Q&A with Gisela Sedlmayer- author of 'Talon' church

Do you think your book will encourage special needs people to travel?

Special needs children are not sick, so they can’t be cured. They are people like you and me. They have to learn to cope with what they have and to live like normal people do. My book is about gaining self-esteem and not thinking of special needs as an affliction. It’s about being bigger than your problems, looking past them and being normal. The Condors gave Matica the encouragement to be someone in life. She was rejected in the beginning by the Peruvians because they didn’t know better, but soon they learn that she is a person too. They begin to respect and love her, and her parents encourage her to live like an average person. In the second book, there is an episode from another village, where there is a boy with the same condition as Matica, and his parents and brother have to deal with the natives’ request that they kill him.  It’s a heartwarming story in addition to a girl flying on birds.

Q&A with Gisela Sedlmayer- author of 'Talon' skyline

Any plans to make your book available as a book on tape or as a read along?

My publisher is producing my book as an e-book for Kindle. I hope it will be soon available; however it is not on tape yet.


Q&A with Gisela Sedlmayer- author of 'Talon' profile picture

Gisela Sedlmayer is an author, originally from Munich Germany, currently lives on Australia’s Gold Coast.She has written ‘Talon’ the first book of a five book series about Matika a special needs little girl living with her missionary parents in Peru.

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