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Reef HQ – Aquarist’ Next Destination

Experience the Great Barrier Reef without getting wet, at the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium. As the National Reef Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Reef HQ Aquarium will open your eyes to an amazing world filled with thousands of charismatic marine creatures. With impressive exhibits the aquarium offers an ever changing, always fascinating experience, showcasing rare and extraordinary features of the Great Barrier Reef.

Once of the richest, most complex and diverse ecosystems in the world, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park begins at the tip of Cape York in Queensland and extends south to Bundaberg. Reef HQ Aquarium was the vision of Dr Graeme Kelleher, a former chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). Dr Kelleher’s objective was to create the Great Barrier Reef on land, making the reef accessible and affordable while at the same time spreading the reef conservation message and gaining public support for the protection of the ‘real thing’.

Reef HQ Aquarium (formally known as the Great Barrier Reef Aquarium) opened June 14 1987 as part of the Bicentennial Commemorative Project and was renamed Reef HQ Aquarium in 1999. In 2009 the Aquarium has gone back to its grass roots by renaming the aquarium Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium.

Reef HQ Aquarium’s Waterview Cafe is open from 9.30am to 3.30pm daily, providing a range of refreshments for our guests. Take in the view from the waterside courtyard or relax in air conditioned comfort whilst enjoying the breath taking views of our 2.5 million litre coral reef exhibit.

Reef HQ is the largest living coral reef aquarium. The aquarium was built as a Bicentennial Commemorative project and is a part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). The Coral Reef Exhibit has 130 coral species and 120 fish species along with hundreds of species of sea stars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, brittle stars, feather stars, snails, worms and sponges.

Reef HQ Aquarium is inclusive of the Coral Reef Exhibit, a Predator Exhibit, a children’s section, a gift shop and cafe. In 2006 Reef HQ opened new ‘Exploring our Wetlands’ interactive kiosks developed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Reef HQ Aquarium is located in the same complex as the Museum of Tropical Queensland and the Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Centre and an IMAX theatre in the Central Business District. Over 110 000 visitors tour Reef HQ Aquarium every year.

Water motion is created in the Coral Reef Exhibit by a pneumatic wave machine. Unusually, the aquarium is open to the weather, receiving precipitation, sun- and moonlight, just like natural coral reefs. The tank holds approximately 2.5 million liters of water.

Reef HQ Aquarium, the Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef provides teachers and students with quality and innovative environmental education opportunities. Reef HQ Aquarium Education programs include:

Reef Play, a reef education program specifically designed for Daycare Centres, Kindergartens and Preschools.

The Living Classroom, reef education programs delivered daily at Reef HQ Aquarium. (K-12 programs with many cross curricula links)

Reef Videoconferencing, reef education to locations all over Australia and around the world.
Reef Sleep, an overnight reef education program.
Teacher Professional Development

An exciting, interactive and outcomes-based environmental education learning program can also be provided for you at Reef HQ Aquarium. Reef HQ Aquarium is open from 9.30am until 5.00pm 364 days a year. We recommend approximately 2 to 2.5 hours for you to experience the beauty and wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. Reef HQ Aquarium provides visitor in wheelchairs full access to all exhibits.

Located on Flinders Street East, Reef HQ Aquarium is an easy walk from Townsville’s CBD, The Strand, Magnetic Island ferry terminal and Jupiter’s Hotel and Casino. Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville’s attraction precinct, also includes the Museum of Tropical Queensland and The Cultural Centre.