Reef HQ Completes the Picture

The announcement in last night’s Federal Budget, for $5.6 million over 3 years to upgrade exhibits, completes funding for a suite of upgrades to Reef HQ Aquarium, which are planned to commence in 2021.

The funding will enrich the experiences visitors can have at the Aquarium and National Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef and their knowledge and understanding of the Reef through the revitalization of exhibits to include hands on experiences, scientific demonstrations and modernization of interactive technology. These improvements to exhibits, educational content and technology will refresh the visitor experience.

As part of the exhibit revitalization, Reef HQ will undergo a consultation process with Reef Traditional Owners and co-design a Connection of Sea Country exhibition, whole of aquarium theme and education programs that will lead to a better understanding, protection and promotion of Indigenous heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef.

Part of the funding also supports a communications and marketing strategy to promote the new and improved Reef HQ Aquarium, to help drive tourism to Townsville and the North Queensland region upon reopening.

We anticipate this investment will strengthen Townsville’s identity as an epicenter of marine science education and will ensure Reef HQ as the National Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef remains a world leader in marine science education and edutourism.

To view the Minister’s media release, please click here.

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Funding Summary:

The latest announcement brings the total Australian Government investment since 2019 to $40.1 million.

  • The original funding of $26.9 million was for capital works that relate to demolition, replacement and upgrade to ageing infrastructure at our 33-year-old facility. The aggressive tropical environment and stress that has resulted from holding in excess of 4 million litres of salt water, have impacted the facility since its build. Some of the works include upgrades to the coral reef exhibit, the predator tank, Turtle Hospital and back-of-house areas.
  • As part of the Government’s COVID19 Relief and Recovery Fund to assist Great Barrier Reef tourism and the North Queensland regional economy, we received $2.6 million for the upgrade and maintenance to the animal life support systems. These systems control the environments within the live exhibits and are crucial to the health and care of our animals. Systems that will be upgraded include those that assist with maintaining temperature, salinity, filtration and water quality. It will also provide energy security through back up power supply.
  • Last week’s funding boost of $5million from the COVID19 Relief and Recovery Fund, will see a modern new facade, and a new admissions and foyer area to enhance visitor accessibility at the Aquarium.
  • Lastly, $5.6 million for upgrades to exhibits, to refresh the visitor experience.

The redevelopment of Reef HQ Aquarium is a keystone project within Townsville's Waterfront Priority Development Area and supports the Townsville 2020 vision to create world-class experiences to drive economic growth through new investment and greater tourism spending.

The majority of the works will be undertaken when Reef HQ Aquarium closes from February 2021. Reef HQ Aquarium will continue to engage with the community, through our social media channels and education outreach program during the closure. To stay connected to Reef HQ and the Great Barrier Reef follow our social pages and check the website for regular updates.