Visiting Reef HQ Townsville is fun and informative and is one of our favourite things to do in Townsville Australia. It is as close as you can get to a Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling Tour on dry land and a wonderful reef ecosystem learning experience. Reef HQ is suitable for all ages and abilities and has a large lift to the top floor.
With a cafe and gift shop on site the air-conditioned Reef HQ complex is a cool place to be when it is hot outside and is a fun Townsville experience.
What You Will Find in This Post
Welcome to the World’s largest LIVING Coral Reef Aquarium
The Coral Reef Exhibit at Reef HQ contains 2.5 million litres, and the predator tank 750,000 litres. The two tanks meet above the underwater viewing tunnel.
The Coral Reef Exhibit is open to the weather and has a gentle wave action that allows water movement over the coral. This circulates oxygen and nutrients creating the perfect environment for a living reef eco system.
What’s on Every day at Reef HQ Townsville Aquarium
Check this list of talks and tours when planning your day. The kids will love all of the activities and keep in mind that photography is best on a sunny day around mid-day.
10.30 – Chat with an underwater diver in the Predator Dive Show
I love watching and listening to these interactions, especially when children are asking the questions.
11.15am & 2.00pm Creature Feature Workshops –
Discovery Lagoon Session has now become Creature Feature Workshop. During workshops staff discuss each animal and talk about reef walking safely. There is the opportunity to touch a sea star or hold a hermit crab, or see them and other tidal pool creatures up close under a micro-eye. Staff and Volunteers are on hand to help.
12.00pm & 3.30pm Meet the patients in the Reef HQ Turtle Hospital
The Turtle Hospital is a must-see. It’s great seeing the turtles in their above-ground pools and brings home the message of how littering the environmental impacts the turtles.
2.30pm Shark Feeding Show (Tue, Thur and Sun) – not only sharks but other reef predators. Floor to ceiling viewing window and walk through viewing tunnel.
Always a crowd pleaser.
2.30pm Animal Feeding Tour (Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat)
Fun for everyone.
How to Tour Reef HQ
Visitors can roam freely within the aquarium complex taking in any of the talks and tours mentioned above or just sitting and watching the reef through the huge viewing windows.
There are interesting fact boards everywhere and the friendly uniformed volunteers love being interrogated – they are extremely well informed and love answering questions.
Visit Townsville Turtle Hospital – FAQ
Is Reef HQ the only Turtle Hospital in Queensland? Yes
Tell us about the Patients? The majority of turtle patients are green turtles.
Why are they sick? The main reasons turtles find themselves at Reef HQ Turtle Hospital are the swallowing of plastic bags and/or fishing line, collapsed lungs and pneumonia.
How many Turtles patients are there? The Turtle Hospital saved and released 110 turtles over one three year period alone and with the addition of more turtle tanks, they hope to increase this number.
Why is saving turtles so important? Green turtles do not reproduce until they are fifty years old so it is imperative for future generations that they survive and breed.
Visits to the turtle hospital are included in the cost of admission.
Photography at Reef HQ
Photographs (no flash) can generally be taken in the aquarium. I particularly like photographing the smaller display tanks that are home to tiny creatures like seahorses. It would be impossible to get such up close photos of such small creatures in the main aquarium.
Inspect the coral reef exhibit through huge viewing windows
Watch fish interact with the reef and each other
It is as close as you can get to the great barrier reef on land
Movies are shown at different times during the day in the theatre. Times change on a daily basis complementing other talks and tours on offer. Announcements are made when movies are about to begin.
Reef HQ for Kids
If you are looking for things to do in Townsville for kids, look no further. Children have great fun at Reef HQ, with perpetual interactive displays and live tanks presented at their eye level and plenty of space to explore.
The school holiday program is advertised via Reef HQ’s website and social media channels. Special school holiday events, like mermaids are advertised in the Townsville Bulletin and radio stations.
- Reef HQ Prices and opening hours.
Kids prices are charged up to 16 years of age. Admission fees go toward conservation of the Great Barrier Reef.
Reef HQ Turtle Hospital is included in the general admission charge.
How to get to Reef HQ Aquarium
Reef HQ is located on Flinders Street East, an easy walk to the CBD, The Strand, and Magnetic Island Ferry Terminal, and is situated next door to the Tropical Museum of North Queensland, another fun thing to do in Townsville.
Have you thought of visiting Townsville?
If you would like to know more about the Townsville Aquarium or Townsville in general, ask in the comments.
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