How To Experience Australia In Chicago

February 18, 2014 5:00 PM

In the brutal cold, winter days of Chicago, the idea of the warmth of summer is an idea greatly welcomed. Some parts of the world though are enjoying summer while you pull on the long underwear, boots, hats, mittens and scarves. While expensive to get to Australia and not always easily attainable as a vacation, you can experience it right here in Chicago. Read on to find out where you can experience a little bit of the down under right here in your very own backyard.

Stingrays swim in the pool at the Stingray Touch exhibit at the Shedd Aquarium. (Credit: Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez)

Stingrays swim in the pool at the Stingray Touch exhibit at the Shedd Aquarium. (Credit: Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez)

Australian Marine Life

Shedd Aquarium
1200 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL
Open every day of the year, except Christmas.

Did you know that the oldest fish at the Shedd Aquarium is an Australian lungfish? Granddad has been at the Shedd since the first day it opened making him over 80 years old. Not only that, he has lived longer than any fish in any aquarium in the world. Another Australian fish you can view is the Parrotfish. A parrotfish can change shape, color and even gender throughout its life. Or while you’re there, view the endangered Fly River turtle found in the Australian Northern Territory.

Want to see Parrotfish in real life? Head to Lord Howe Island off of Sydney, Australia and stop at Ned’s Beach to feed the masses of fish. Vacationing with your family? Stay at the Pinetrees Lodge. Wanting to indulge in the lap of luxury? Stay at Capella Lodge.



Australian Wildlife

Brookfield Zoo
8400 W. 31st St.
Brookfield, IL 60513
Open every 365 days of the year.

No reason to trek half way across the world to see a kangaroo, when they’re right here at the Brookfield Zoo. In early 2013, two joeys were born that are now hopping around. Visit the Australia House at the zoo and look for wombats, emerald tree boas, echnidas (an egg-laying mammal), fruit bats and emus, a bird that is only native to Australia. According to, eighty percent of Australia’s plants, mammals, reptiles and frogs are unique to Australia and found no-where else.

Really do want to see a kangaroo in the wild? Head to Kangaroo Island, Australia’s second largest island, and head to Southern Ocean Lodge where included in your luxurious stay is a tour called Kangaroos and Canapes. This tour at dusk includes wine and up close encounters with red kangaroos.



Australian Food

Where do you get Australian food in Chicago? Look toward the seafood restaurants. At Riva (700 E. Grand Ave.) on Navy Pier you can indulge in Australian lobster tail. In the Gold Coast at Devon Seafood (39 E. Chicago Ave.) you can eat Barramundi, an iconic Australian fish. If you’re not into the seafood, then try Australian Wagyu Beef at Roka Akor (456 N. Clark St.), a Michelin recommended restaurant. Need to top off these delicious entrees with a little bit of sweet? Head to Tipsycakes (1944 N. Damen Ave.), a cake bakery headed up by the “Cake Aussie” Naomi Levine.

Where to find good Australian food in Australia? Once again, head to Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island in South Australia for out-of-this-world food that is fresh and beautifully presented.

Rachel Azark is a writer, newly married and lives on Chicago’s northwest side. Read more about her travels to Australia on her blog

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