Spending a night or two in a unique location, often in your own city, is nothing new. Whether you are roughing it in a sleeping bag for charity, glamping on Cockatoo Island or throwing your own backyard slumber party, the popular concept has been around for years.
Taronga Park, which has conducted sleepovers at the zoo for many years, has recently announced a super upmarket 62 room eco-retreat. Room rates start at a whopping $790 for two adults, which includes meals and what they bill as “immersive and exclusive Australian animal experiences.” The money, of course, goes to a good cause, in particular, the zoo’s various conservation programs, but they are obviously targeting cashed-up tourists and locals. We’ve certainly come a long way since the elephant rides were scrapped in 1976.
Meanwhile on Cockatoo Island, for a lot less financial outlay, you can bed down for the night in a well-equipped tent for the night or two. Laid out in rows and decidedly remote from the rest of Sydney, the tent city almost parallels the kind of refugee camp you would experience on Manus or Nauru. The only difference here being that you can get off the island anytime you like when there’s a ferry leaving.
Sydney has certainly embraced the sleepover concept, particularly the idea of roughing it in a sleeping bag for the night to enjoy an unusual location or raise money for charity. There are a number of winter sleepouts directed at the corporate sector with their CEO’s often rolling out their $500 dollar Paddy Pallin swags for the night.
We’ve had sleepovers at the Opera House and convict sleepovers at the Hyde Park Barracks where kids get to spend the night in a hammock and experience the life of a colonial convict, minus the floggings and abject cruelty. But what about some even more creative experiences that could well make us the sleepover capital of the world? Here are just a few suggestions:
THE NSW PARLIAMENT DOZE OFF: What could be more boring than sitting in the public gallery of the NSW Parliament as accusations fly backwards and forwards in the bear pit. Yes, you have heard it all before but now’s the chance to settle in for the night in your specially built Smokey Dawson recliner chair. You spend a blissful night there and in the morning are awoken to the Premier herself serving you tea and an arrowroot biscuit in a wonderful initiative to bring pollies and voters together.
NIGHT TRAIN TO LITHGOW (and back): The homeless have been riding it for years but NSW Trains offers a unique nocturnal experience leaving Central at 12.20 am and returning in the early morning. Cheaper than staying even in a pod hotel and there’s a complimentary doona, fluffy slippers and snack pack. You might even get to meet some of the regular homeless passengers and learn how tough they are doing it.
THE HYDE PARK INTERACTIVE ANIMAL EXPERIENCE: If you can’t afford the Taronga Park eco-retreat who not bed down in Hyde Park for the night and enjoy all the assorted fauna that this urban oasis has to offer. Cheeky possums will root around your sleeping bag for any discarded snacks as will rats and the occasional seagull. A highlight of the sunrise is a group of marauding ibis surrounding you in homage to Hitchcock’s The Birds. Make sure you have a few food scraps to placate them!
THE GREAT DARLING HARBOUR LI-LO FLOAT IN: The idea of floating around Cockle Bay on a li-lo all night is definitely going to appeal to at least a section of the population. A Sydney Festival or Chinese New Year fringe event, it’s bound to create interest with each of the li-lo’s illuminated with flashing LED lights. Lifeguards would be on hand to counter any accidental deflation and a floating portaloo would be on hand for that call of nature during the night.