Reef HQ Aquarium is open from 9:30am until 5:00pm every day except Christmas Day, Anzac Day and the Australia Day public holiday. We recommend approximately 2 to 2.5 hours (120 to 150 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 from 9:30am 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 from 9:30am to 3:00pm* daily, providing a range of refreshments for our guests. 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. Relax in air conditioned comfort whilst enjoying the breath-taking views of our 2.5 million litre coral reef exhibit. *Please note: closing times may vary.
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.
Reef HQ Aquarium can be booked for private events and functions after the aquarium has closed. Ideal for corporate events, dinner events or special occasions. A comprehensive guide to the services and facilities available for after hour functions can be found here.
Reef HQ Aquarium also run regular Reef by Night events, whereby we open to the public from 6pm to 9pm. Guests learn about the nocturnal habits of reef creatures and can see corals fluoresce under UV light. Reef by Night is generally scheduled during school holidays. To stay up-to-date, follow us on Facebook. Alternatively, regularly visit our website for upcoming dates and times.
Are you a school group? Our education team facilitate Twilight to Night tours for pre-booked school groups. For more information use the link here.
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 what is envisaged as being a marine science and education centre of excellence.
Reef HQ Aquarium will have a facelift as part of the rejuvenation 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 what is envisaged as being a marine science and education centre of excellence.
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.
If you are sourcing donations for school fetes or community groups, Reef HQ Aquarium can provide admission tickets for use in raffles or as prizes. In return we request you include our logo, social media and website links in your newsletter, or a shout out on your social media channels. For more information please use the link here.
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.