Experience a living example of the Great Barrier Reef on land, let the kids find “Nemo” and get a deeper understanding of one of the world’s most amazing ecosystems.
Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville introduces visitors to the wonderful creatures of the Great Barrier Reef without getting wet. Set out on a journey through a magical underwater world that was previously only accessible to snorkelers or divers. Join a feeding tour, hear about reef conservation and visit the Turtle Hospital.
Reef HQ’s living coral reef is displayed in a huge glass tank that is open to the weather. The reef fish receive natural sunlight and moonlight, keeping them in their natural rhythm. Gaze up at the tall viewing windows and watch schools of fish swim by. Look for the lobsters under the rocks and admire the 120 local species of hard and soft coral. Spot the clownfish peeking out from the anemone, just like in the movie Finding Nemo.
Explore the underwater viewing tunnel. The tank holds nearly 200,000 gallons (750,000 liters) of water and houses the predators of the reef, including small reef sharks and leopard sharks. During the daily Predator Dive Show, watch scuba divers swim among the docile sharks, using sign language to communicate with onlookers. Three times per week, leopard sharks swim onto a partly submerged platform during a feeding show, during which the sharks also receive a quick health check.
Upstairs, observe star fish and stingrays up close in a shallow lagoon. In the Rainforest exhibit, spot the well-camouflaged green tree frogs and green tree python among the foliage. After all, Queensland is where the reef meets the rainforest.
Visit the Turtle Hospital, where injured or sick green turtles are being cared for and rehabilitated. You’ll hear all about the dangers that these gentle creatures face during the twice-daily Turtle Talks.
Reef HQ is the National Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Learn how fragile the massive eco-system of the reef has become and the steps, such as the installation of a solar panel roof, Reef HQ has taken to reduce its carbon footprint.
The aquarium is an easy walk from The Strand in central Townsville. All-day parking is available for a fee opposite the aquarium. Townsville’s Sunbus connects the city with the Reef HQ Aquarium complex, as well as other tourism attractions.
Reef HQ Aquarium is open daily, but closed on December 25. Admission includes the option to leave and come back the same day. Children get in for half price and those under 5 years old get free admission. Family discount passes are available.