Reef HQ Aquarium
Possibly the next best thing to the Great Barrier Reef, the enormous tank at Townsville’s Reef HQ houses the world’s largest living coral reef within an aquarium. Enjoy close-up views of sharks, more than 150 species of fish, and around 120 species of coral—without having to get wet.
Whether or not you get the chance to dive or snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef, Reef HQ Aquarium is the place to go in Townsville to learn more about Australian marine ecosystems. Check out a talk on a topic such as turtle conservation, attend a shark feeding, or just marvel at the sea life you’ll see.
Things to know before you go
- Allow yourself two to three hours to tour the aquarium.
- Reef HQ is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
- Children under age 5 get free entry, and students and seniors receive a discount.
- The on-site café sells snacks and drinks.
How to get there
Located in central Townsville (near the SeaLink ferry terminal and next to the Museum of Tropical Queensland), Reef HQ is easy to get to on foot, via public transit, or by car or bike. There’s bike parking outside and several car parking options in the vicinity. Buses 200, 201, and 206 stop nearby.
When to get there
Reef HQ is open every day (except select Australian public holidays), with occasional evening events. If you’re traveling with kids and happen to be in Townsville in summer or during the Easter or spring school holidays, find out when the aquarium’s “mermaids” and “mermen” are visiting.
Snorkel or Dive at the Great Barrier Reef
Visiting the Reef HQ Aquarium is a good prelude to exploring the Great Barrier Reef itself, which is accessible from Townsville via boat. Beginning diving courses are held at the reef, and snorkeling is available to those who don’t want to dive. Experienced divers shouldn’t miss the Yongala shipwreck.
- Museum of Tropical Queensland
- Maritime Museum of Townsville
- The Strand
- Castle Hill
- Kissing Point Fortification
- Jezzine Barracks
- Army Museum North Queensland
- Royal Australian Air Force Museum (RAAF Museum)
- Tumbetin Tea Rooms
- Billabong Sanctuary
- Paluma Range National Park
- SS Yongala Dive Site
- Orpheus Island