I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published July 14th 2015
A thrilling high ropes course right above the zoo
As if Taronga Zoo didn't have enough reasons to visit, since December last year there's been a new experience for the adventurous to try out called Wild Ropes. This attraction involves completing a series of ropes courses directly above the animals, specifically the ones in the Australian Walkabout section of the zoo.
Admittedly, a lot of the obstacles are just over the paths in this area, but two of the four courses pass over kangaroos, emus and wallabies. You also get great views of tree kangaroos (I don't remember the animals looking like tree kangaroos, but that's what the map says they are). If you're not too focused on looking down (often at your feet, not any further), the city views are amazing as well.
Look down as soon as you start and there are kangaroos and emus
There courses were actually more difficult than I expected. Last year I completed the High Ropes Challenge at Thunderbird Park in Queensland whilst on holiday and am sure I remember a lot more ropes to hang onto (these ropes were the reason for the height restrictions - you had not be able to reach the ones that were above you).
When you're walking around the zoo, you'll get a good idea of what it takes to do the ropes course. Just look up
Some of the obstacles include tightropes, rock climbing walls, various kinds of nets, horizontal ladders and more. Each course also ends with a flying fox, where you just let your harness take your weight and speed along.
Here I'm about to leave the safety of my platform and start clambering along the wall (which had very, very small footholds)
One particularly memorable obstacle (for me) involved wooden steps set really far apart. They're too far to reach without help, so you're given a rope you can pull along with you and possibly use to swing across to each one. My very capable companion went first and struggled, so everyone thought I would be hilarious, but I ended up doing a very 'dainty' walk along the outside wires that connected the steps. It wasn't quite in the spirit of the obstacle, but was much less scary.
I actually found the lower course's obstacles to be more difficult, but perhaps I hadn't gotten used to relying on my own harness rope yet. These lower courses are both around four metres from the ground, while the high courses are eight metres (and up to 10 metres). Most packages allow you to do at least one course of each height.
It was around this stage that I looked down and realised how far up I was
Moving around the courses is fortunately made less daunting by the fact you don't have to unclip yourself at each obstacle and clip onto the next one (which I did have to do in Queensland). The safety device just slides along with you, very much like it does when climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge with Bridgeclimb.
The Harbour Bridge is not among the views you get from Wild Ropes, but you do get to see it from elsewhere in zoo, like at the giraffes and Himalayan tahrs
While Wild Ropes is part of Taronga Zoo, it can either be done as a package with zoo entry or just on its own. In fact, the attraction has a separate entry, which unfortunately means spectators can't watch from the ground unless they go into zoo itself.
When deciding whether you'll do one attraction or both, consider time it takes to see the zoo (a whole day really). Then consider the fact that Wild Ropes may take a predicted 1.5 hours out of that time. I only took 40 minutes to do two courses (I was near the front of the line for my session and never got stuck waiting for someone to complete an obstacle) yet still didn't manage to fit the Kids Trail section of the zoo into my trip.
There are so many animals to see at Taronga Zoo (these chimps look bored, but they were really patiently enduring two chaotic young ones, whose antics I unfortunately didn't manage to capture - you can just see where they fell behind a log in this picture)
To do the Wild Ropes courses you need to be 10 years or older and at least 1.4 metres tall. No cameras are allowed up in the air with you but you can purchase a photo package with your ticket and there are places to snap yourself around the courses by stepping on a button.
It's thrilling enough on a good day, but Wild Ropes can also be done in wet weather, so don't let the threat of rain deter you like I almost did. In fact, sources tell me it's actually even more fun (I think you have to be pretty capable in the first place though).