Experience the Great Barrier Reef without getting wet, at the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium. As the National 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.
One 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, over 2300kms!
A vision –
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'.
Dr. Graeme Kelleher
Our names over the years –
Reef HQ, as we are now commonly known, opened on June 24, 1987 as part of the Bicentennial Commemorative Project and was called The Great Barrier Reef Aquarium. In 1999 it was renamed Reef HQ Aquarium and in 2009 the Aquarium returned to its grass roots by being named Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium. In the past it has also been known as Great Barrier Reef Wonderland, a reference to the incredible spectacle Reef HQ Aquarium offers its visitors.
Waterview Cafe –
Reef HQ Aquarium's Waterview Cafe is open each morning for our first session, whether this be a Member's Only Session at 9:00am or the 10:30am Morning Session. It will close at 3:00pm each day, with snacks available in the gift shop. Relax in air conditioned comfort whilst enjoying the breath taking views of our 2.5 million litre coral reef exhibit.
A selection of cakes, sweet treats and snacks are available, as are hot and cold drinks. The cafe currently have a limited menu serving hot drinks and snacks. There will be no tables and chairs at the cafe to sit down but guests can take their drink or snack, and walk around or they can sit at a window if the appropriate social distancing is applied.
Reef-In Store –
If you would like to take away a memory from Reef HQ Aquarium then our Reef-In Store is open each morning for our first session to 5.00pm daily, providing an opportunity for our visitors to purchase gifts or mementos. There's something for all ages covering a wide variety of interests and tastes, perfect for presents for others or as a treasured reminder of your visit to Reef HQ Aquarium.
Opening Hours –
Reef HQ Aquarium is open every day of the year except Christmas Day, Anzac Day and the Australia Day public holiday. We recommend approximately one and a half to two hours for you to experience the beauty and wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.
To ensure we can manage capacity within the facility at any one time, guests will need an advanced ticket with a confirmed date and time slots. Session times are:
- 9:00am to 10:30am - Member's Only Session (Friday, Saturday and Sunday only, and every day of the Queensland School Holidays)
- 10:30am to 1:30pm - Morning Session
- 2pm to 5pm - Afternoon Session
For more information on session times, tickets and pricing, please click here.
Accessible for everyone –
Reef HQ Aquarium has level access into the building and on both exhibit floors. Lifts are available for those who wish to use them.
Getting to Reef HQ –
Reef HQ Aquarium is located just off the Strand on Flinders Street. It is located close to the SeaLink ferry terminal and next door to the Museum of Tropical Queensland.
Use the link here to see a location map and plan your visit by walking to Reef HQ Aquarium. There is level and easy access to the entrance from the local area. If you have bags that you would like to leave in safety whilst you visit then please ask at the reception desk, we are happy to help.
By bike –
If you'd like to cycle to Reef HQ Aquarium then this map may help you. There are cycle racks to secure your bike
, during your visit, adjacent to the Reef HQ building. The local area around Reef HQ Aquarium is typically flat and ideal for cycling. If you have bags that you would like to leave in safety whilst you visit then please ask at the reception desk, we are happy to help.
By car –
If you'd like to come by car to Reef HQ Aquarium then this map may help you. You can drop passengers directly outside the entrance if required, in the designated area. Access is flat and easily accessible for wheelchair users, prams, or push chairs. Parking - there are a number of parking options available, these include free parking along the Strand for up to 3 hours, hourly fee paying car parks along Flinders Street and hourly or day rates for paid parking directly opposite the Reef HQ entrance in the Wilson’s car-park. Please always follow relevant regulations at your chosen parking location.
By bus –
There are three bus services that can be used, with two stopping directly outside Reef HQ Aquarium operated by Sunbus in Townsville.
Service 200, 201 & 206 - Departing from Sealink Ferry Breakwater Terminal to University / Hospital / Stocklands / City Mall - Services from stop ID 890206 will, if requested, alight directly outside REEF HQ at stop ID 890207.
Service 206 - to Palleranda - will stop, if requested, at stop ID 890194 outside Rambutan on Flinders Street. It is approximately 260m or a 4 minute walk to the entrance of Reef HQ from this location.
Service 200 & 201 - to Ferry Terminal - will stop, if requested, at stop ID 890194 outside Rambutan on Flinders Street. It is approximately 260m or a 4 minute walk to the entrance of Reef HQ from this location.
Use the link here to access timetables and other information from Sunbus.
By coach –
If you are travelling by coach as part of an organised tour or excursion passengers can alight directly outside the entrance to Reef HQ Aquarium in the designated area. Access from this point is level and suitable for most ages and abilities.
By air –
If you are travelling into Townsville by air and wish to visit Reef HQ Aquarium directly then there are a number of regular flights from regional airports at Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Mackay, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Rockhampton, Sydney & Toowoomba.
From the airport to Reef HQ Aquarium, by car, is approximately 7 kilometres or 10 minutes on the most direct route. Use the link here to plan your journey from Townsville Airport to Reef HQ.
Contact Us –
Phone 07 47500 800 or 07 47500 891 (Weekends)
Address: 2-68 Flinders Street, Townsville, QLD, 4810
Postal Address: PO Box 1379, Townsville, QLD, 4810