We love living in Sydney and feel fortunate to have such a gorgeous dazzling harbour as the city’s centrepiece. Taronga Zoo and its residents have some of the best views of Sydney’s skyline and the harbour so it was logical for accommodation to be added to the mix. Since its opening, the animals have had to share those stunning vistas. We previously reviewed Taronga Zoo’s Roar and Snore glamping so we were keen to put Wildlife Retreat at Taronga to the accessibility test. We are happy to report that the luxury eco-retreat offers excellent wheelchair accessible accommodation and an exclusive animal sanctuary for guests to explore.
Wildlife Retreat at Taronga – accessible accommodation
The Wildlife Retreat at Taronga opened in October 2019 on Cammeraigal country and it still feels brand spanking new. Everything is fresh, plush and accessible.
The retreat has been tastefully nestled into the natural bush setting in the leafy North Shore suburb of Mosman, about a 30 minute drive from Sydney’s CBD.
Now that the ‘kids’ are adults we really crave space so we were happy to spread out our family over two rooms. It’s always the sign of a thoughtfully designed hotel when there is the option of an interconnecting room attached to the accessible room. It’s perfect for families, anyone travelling with friends or support staff.
The accessible room offers good circulation space, lowered facilities including a lowered hanging rail in the wardrobe and air conditioning controls at a good height for wheelchair users. An iPad in the room provides guests with easy access to information about the Wildlife Retreat’s facilities including the restaurant, bar and Sanctuary Tour. The free movie selection is great for all the family. Amelia and I started the movie The Heights but I couldn’t make it all the way through. I think the bed was too comfy!
Bed height is 59cm with a 7cm clearance underneath. Circulation space from the bed to the window is 115cm.
I love an accessible bathroom that wows and the Wildlife Retreat at Taronga has ensured the bathroom offers all the key accessible features wrapped up in a sleek stylish design.
Anyone who has been following our reviews for a while will know how excited I am when I find a bathroom wash basin and bench that has plenty of room for a toiletries bag. Towels are also located at a good height to make accessing them easy.
Lever taps, grab rails, height adjustable shower head, shower bench seat and a back rest on the toilet all make this bathroom wonderfully accessible.
Bathroom door clearance is 88cm. Toilet height is 44cm to pan and 47cm to the seat. Shower bench seat is 48cm high.
A rollaway bed can be added to the room but it does reduce the circulation space significantly.
While the rooms at Wildlife Retreat are equipped with air conditioners, it’s always lovely to have the option of fresh air. Not only can you spot some of the animals in the Sanctuary but you can also hear the morning song of the birdlife.
Need to see a bit more? Take a room tour with me below.
Interconnecting non-accessible accommodation at Wildlife Retreat at Taronga
The interconnecting accommodation, which connects to the accessible room via a shared doorway, offers similar features to the neighbouring room, however the layout offers less circulation space..
The toilet and shower are partitioned off into separate cubicles in the bathroom.
Sanctuary Tour at Wildlife Retreat at Taronga
The Sanctuary has been created especially for guests of the Wildlife Retreat at Taronga. It’s nestled amongst the accommodation and many rooms overlook the habitat. Upon checking in we were offered the opportunity to book a Sanctuary Tour which is exclusive and included for Wildlife Retreat guests.
The tour, which lasts approximately 30 minutes, is wheelchair accessible.
It’s feed time at the zoo in the afternoon and we had plenty of the Sanctuary’s residents actively moving around as we toured. The Sanctuary is home to over 25 native animals including koalas, long-nosed potoroo, tammar wallaby, red-necked pademelon, rufous bettong and long-nosed bandicoot to name a few. All animals have right of way and they seem totally oblivious to any fear of wheelchairs.
Guests need to stick to the path but the local residents have free reign, which means you need to watch where you step. A cutie could be right there checking you out.
Me-Gal restaurant – accessible dining at Wildlife Retreat at Taronga
Whether you are celebrating a special occasion or visiting the Retreat with kids, Me-Gai Restaurant is sure to satisfy.
The elevated location of the restaurant ensures guests are treated to beautiful views of the sun setting over the harbour. The decor is light and stylish with seating well-spaced to ensure wheelchair accessibility.
If you are visiting with a young child or toddler, high chairs are available and waiters don’t seem to look twice at any under-high chair mess which I think is really refreshing. There was no such mess at our table as every crumb was eaten.
As much as we delighted in the menu at dinner, I have to say I was super excited to graze on the buffet breakfast the next morning. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed but since Covid lockdowns curbed our travels I’ve come to appreciate them even more.
The breakfast included with our stay offered a range of hot and cold buffet items. Braeden normally has quite a good breakfast but he outdid himself on this one.
Croissants, multiple delicious yoghurt pots and eggs were all gobbled up with relish.
Early morning tour
When we checked into Wildlife Retreat we asked if there were any early morning activity options as Braeden is an early riser. We were pleased to hear there was an additional keeper-led tour at 7.15am which we happily joined. Over the years we’ve learnt so much about various animals through joining keeper talks and this was no different. We visited the Tassie Devils, Red Kangaroos and the aviary learning as we walked.
General accessibility at Wildlife Retreat at Taronga Zoo
On arrival guests are able to unload luggage and leave it with staff at the entrance to the Wildlife Retreat. Accessible parking is available and free to guests in the undercover car park (2.1m height restriction) around 400 metres away at Taronga Zoo. Accessible street parking is available opposite. Note it is meter parking unless you have an accessible parking permit displayed.
Lift access is available to navigate the various levels within the retreat, to access the restaurant and the Sanctuary.
The accessible room we stayed in was located close to reception and N’Gurra Lounge (the bar!) meaning there’s no long walk or wheel for access.
Taronga Zoo’s views of Sydney Harbour are thanks to it’s position on a hillside and that’s the only accessibility barrier we experienced during our stay. Guests have free access to Taronga Zoo during opening hours throughout their stay. Access is via a gate at the Wildlife Retreat. We found it a big push back up with Braeden in his wheelchair. Braeden of course sat back and had a good laugh at the effort Hubby had to put into it.
After breakfast we headed into the zoo for the day. Being in the zoo at opening time meant we beat the crowds and we managed to spot the lion cubs at play with their mum. Braeden had visited many times trying to spot them with no success until that morning.
Our thanks to Wildlife Retreat at Taronga for hosting our stay. As always, our wildly enthusiastic review (see what I did there?) is reflective of a wonderful stay. If you’d like to learn more about Wildlife Retreat at Taronga you can check out their website.