Improving Visitor Access to Reef HQ Aquarium

Reef HQ Aquarium’s visitor entrance will undergo a major facelift, with work set to begin on removing adjacent buildings, including the old Omnimax theatre, three level office space and Cultural Centre.

A Townsville-based company has been engaged to remove the buildings as part of a redevelopment of the site.

The Aquarium was temporarily closed earlier this year for refurbishment, while the adjacent buildings have been unoccupied for several years.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority A/CEO Natalie Conner said this would be the first step in improving visitor access for when Reef HQ Aquarium reopened to the public.

“Removing these buildings will open up the space to provide better accessibility to our refurbished Aquarium, while also enhancing the street appeal of Flinders Street,” Ms Conner said.

“For many years, Reef HQ Aquarium’s public face has been the spire on the Omnimax theatre building.

“As part of our refurbishments, we will create a new modern façade for the Aquarium, which will provide a distinctive and identifiable landmark in the Townsville city.”

The project is expected to create 20 local jobs and be completed by the end of 2021.

The site will then act as a work base for the Principal Contractor of the Reef HQ Aquarium renewal works.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has entered into an agreement with the Port of Townsville, which owns the land, to manage the site and complete the demolition and refurbishment works over the next two to three years.

Port of Townsville CEO Ranee Crosby said the Port was delighted to work with the Authority  who will facilitate the works.

"The redevelopment of Reef HQ will breathe life back into Townsville's important marine education and tourism precinct and create an engaging and attractive experience for visitors."


Frequently Asked Questions

Which buildings are being removed from the complex?

The old Omnimax theatre, three-story office space and Cultural Centre.

Will the demolition impact the marine animals at the Aquarium?

We do not expect to see any impact on the marine animals as a result of this project.

Some animals have been rehomed in other facilities, while some animals are being temporarily housed off site as a result of the renewal works planned to occur over the next couple of years.

There are some marine animals still at our Aquarium and staff are onsite every day to care for them, while assessing their health and behaviour.

The contractor will be using vibration sensors and construction methodologies to monitor for any potential impacts so they can be addressed immediately.

The Omnimax theatre spire has been the public face of Reef HQ Aquarium, what will take its place?

The Omnimax spire has never been part of the Aquarium. It is not in a condition where it can be maintained. The Omnimax closed to the public in December 2012.

A new modern façade will be created as part of the Aquarium’s refurbishment, which will provide a unique and distinctive landmark in the Townsville city, while enhancing the street appeal of Flinders Street.

There are residual fittings and memorabilia that will be recovered and retained from the building including a diorama of the Ominmax and Qantas signage. These will be provided to the Port of Townsville.

What will happen to the cleared site?

Once the buildings have been removed, the site will act as a work base for the Principal Contractor of the Reef HQ Aquarium renewal works.

What will be built on the site when the Aquarium reopens to the public?

The Port of Townsville is working collaboratively with GBRMPA, Museum of Tropical Queensland and the Townsville City Council on the future of the site.

How do the interested parties contact the project for information?

  • Project updates will be provided on our Visitor Access Works page. View this page by clicking the link here.
  • Enquiries can be made by calling 0447 816 279; or
  • Use our contact form available here.