Melbourne Aquarium is unique in that its primary focus is on marine life from the waters that surround Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. This does not, however, mean there is a limited variety of creatures to see; the aquarium has a rich array of animals from both above and below the waterline.
The aquarium is divided into four main areas, which makes navigation a breeze. The first stop is Antarctica. Check out the king and gentoo penguins and marvel at the Antarctic fish that can survive in below-freezing waters. Time your visit to catch one of the daily feeding sessions, or visit the underwater viewing area for a fish-eye perspective of seabirds in action.
Next door at Seahorse Pier, dive into the world’s largest collection of seahorse and sea dragon species. These colorful and curious creatures blend in amongst the underwater plants, so you’ll have to look carefully to spot them. Then drop into the Coral Atoll section, the home of marine life from the warmer waters of the tropics.
A centerpiece of the aquarium is the 580,000-gallon (2.2-million liter) Oceanarium that holds sharks, rays and turtles. Enjoy the views from the observation deck or test your nerves with a shark dive for an additional cost. The aquarium is home to grey nurse sharks and the extensive breeding program is helping to improve the shark’s numbers in the Southern Hemisphere.
The aquarium also offers a range of experience packages. The Ocean Rangers program is a great one for kids, with all-day activities and a chance to meet some of the aquarists.
Melbourne Aquarium is located in central Melbourne, on the north bank of the Yarra River. The free City Circle tram stops at the aquarium, which is a short walk from downtown and Flinders Street Station, the city’s main train terminal. The aquarium is open every day of the year, including public holidays, and there is a fee for entry.