Reef HQ Aquarium is open. There will be a sea change to your Reef HQ experience. To see what measures we have implemented to comply with Industry COVID-19 Safe Plans, please click here.
All guests, including members, will need an advanced ticket with a confirmed date and time slot. This will ensure social distancing measures, allowing 1 person per 4 square metres, is maintained.
9am to 10:30am: Members Only session. (Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and every day of the Queensland School Holidays)
10:30am to 1:30pm: Morning session.
2pm to 5pm: Afternoon session.
As we are required to collect contact details for each visiting group, bookings will need to be made via TryBooking. Bookings will be free, with payment made upon entry to Reef HQ Aquarium. The person making the booking must complete the COVID declaration on behalf of themselves and everyone in the group. In the unlikely event that COVID-19 contact tracing is required, the person who booked will be contacted and be responsible for contacting all other persons under that booking. Bookings are available two weeks in advance of date.
We recommend approximately 1.5 to 2 hours (90 to 120 minutes) for you to experience the beauty and wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. Reef HQ Aquarium provides visitors in wheelchairs full access to all exhibits.
The aquarium's Reef-In Store is open for the first session of each day to 5:00pm daily, providing an opportunity for our guests to purchase quality gifts or mementos. There are a variety of items available for all ages and interests. Take away something to remember your visit.
The Aquarium's Waterview Cafe is open for the first session each day to 3:00pm daily, with snacks available in the gift shop after this time. We have a daily food menu a range of ice creams, lollies and snacks as well as delicious cakes to tempt you on your visit. To comply with Industry COVID-19 Safe Plans, the cafe will only be selling snacks and drinks at this time. Seating will not be available. Relax in air conditioned comfort whilst enjoying the breath-taking views of our 2.5 million litre coral reef exhibit.
Our Mermaids and Merman typically visit Reef HQ Aquarium during the Summer, Easter and Spring school holidays. To know when they’re flipping by, follow us on Facebook. Alternatively, regularly visit our website for upcoming dates and times.
We always have many varieties and species on display. Including saltwater crocodiles, freshwater turtles, olive sea snakes, a range of colourful reef fish (angel fish, triggerfish, wrasse, damsels, chromis, fusiliers), seastars, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, crustaceans, lion fish, moray eels, dory and of course, nemo! The list continues.... Visit Reef HQ to learn more and discover more species of fish and animals that call the Great Barrier Reef home.
The Cultural Centre is no longer located next to Reef HQ Aquarium. This space is part of Townsville’s waterfront priority development area. New and exciting opportunities will be coming over the next few years as the concourse area and buildings are fully re-developed.
In December 2019, Reef HQ Aquarium received $26.9 million over four years was for an upgrade to the infrastructure at our 33 year old Aquarium, which included many of Reef HQ’s facilities, as well as the Turtle Hospital, predator tank and coral reef exhibit. In addition to this, as part of the Relief and Recovery Fund to assist Great Barrier Reef Tourism and the North Queensland regional economy, the Federal Government has allocated $2.6 million to Reef HQ Aquarium.
We have now received approval from the Public Works Committee and will be progressing with procuring the necessary contracts over the comings weeks / months to enable the large majority of the capital works to begin early next year.
Reef HQ Aquarium had a planned closure from February 2021 for up to 12 months to carry out the original works and anticipate the works associated with the additional funding can be completed at the same time.
Free vehicle parking is available along the Strand for up to 3 hours. Parking is also available directly opposite the main entrance to Reef HQ Aquarium in the Wilson’s car park for an hourly fee or day rate. Download the ePark app to pay online. There are also hourly fee paying car parks along Flinders Street providing flat and level access to the aquarium. Use the map here to locate these.
Reef HQ Aquarium volunteers donate their time to assist Reef HQ Aquarium expand and improve services to visitors and the local community, providing support and assistance in a range of Reef HQ Aquarium’s activities and special programs. The volunteer intake occurs once a year, with an open night held in February to outline the program to those interested and to allow them to lodge an expression of interest. There are unfortunately no opportunities to volunteer in the Turtle Hospital or to dive in our tanks. You can view more information by visiting the link here.
Reef HQ Aquarium is unable to supply tickets or membership donations for school fetes, community groups or other fundraising endeavours. Due to current COVID restrictions and a planned closure in February 2021 for refurbishments, the time frames these would be available and the changes to visitation, decrease the value of these offers. We look forward to supporting the community again when we are close to reopening in 2022.
Reef HQ Aquarium is the Australian Government’s National Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBMPRA). GBRMPA is the agency who manages the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. For more information use the link here.
We are very proud of Reef HQ Aquarium, so you are always welcome to take photographs and videos of our attraction and exhibits. Please respect the exhibits where no flash photography is allowed; in our darkened BioDiversity tunnel and in the Turtle Hospital. We love to see what you’ve taken so share your Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef experience by using #reefhq and tagging us on Facebook (@Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium) or Instagram (@reefhqaquarium).
If you’re looking for content for a documentary or news piece, then we’d love to hear from you. We have some great stories to tell:
Turtle Hospital: Since opening in 2009 we have cared for more than 240 patients. Patients have been admitted suffering from boat strikes, marine plastic ingestion, fishing hook ingestion, floatation syndrome due to other unknown blockages, malnourishment, among other injuries. You can read more on the Turtle Hospital here.
Leopard sharks: Our Leopard Sharks are world famous after it was confirmed they were giving birth without a male, after previously mating in the usual way. This process is called parthenogenesis. You can read more on our leopard sharks here. (link to research document)
Olive Sea Snakes: For two consistent years our olive sea snakes gave birth. From what we can determine, this is the first known case of captive breeding of olive sea snakes. Two of the first litter born are now housed at Cairns Aquarium, with the rest of the sisters on display at Reef HQ Aquarium. You can read more on our sea snake research here. (link to research paper)
Please contact us for more great story ideas. The Contact Us form which can be viewed on this link here.