Frequently Asked Questions
We have answered the most commonly asked questions.
When will the new Aquarium open?

The Great Barrier Reef Aquarium is currently closed for transformation. 

We are working on the design with the principal contractor to deliver an exciting world-class facility. 

Follow our social media channels for updates on the transformation and reopening.

Why rebuild rather than renovate and will this delay the project?

It became clear following building inspections that the significant risks associated with refurbishment were no longer feasible, nor represent the best value for Commonwealth funding.

The new build will feature sustainable engineering and architectural innovation, durability, and creativity. It will also reset the lifespan of the Aquarium for another 30 years.

The building’s original lifespan was between 25 and 50 years and it is now over 35 years old, so it is reasonable to expect that the longevity of those areas that remain untouched by the work, including external walls, would have a lifespan of ten years or less. As such a refurbishment of the facility would result in a patchwork of new and old such that the potential for spending significant funding to rectify issues that will arise within another ten years is moderately high.

As the scope of the project grew to a major refurbishment of over 50 per cent of the facility this triggered the requirement for the entire Aquarium to comply with all current building, work health safety, engineering and accessibility codes.

This meant that a renovation timeline would be like a new build.

Choosing to demolish and create a brand-new building enables us to reset the facility’s lifespan and deliver a cutting-edge Aquarium that is powered by clean energy. We believe this is the best option for delivering a world-class facility in tropical reef education for the future.

The new build will transform the Aquarium into a world-class contemporary facility. It will offer external and internal structures that feature sustainable engineering and architectural innovation, durability, and creativity.

The new building will incorporate renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy storage, enabling the facility to be a demonstration for sustainable operations. These sustainability initiatives will lower the operating costs for the lifetime of the facility and provide a demonstration site for how sustainability measures can be built into such a facility.

Where will all the animals go?

Majority of our animals have been relocated to other facilities and our partners across Queensland.  Of course, the welfare of our animals and people working at the Aquarium remain our top priority. This means, any temporary rehoming of animals may shift into permanent relocations if it’s in the best interest of the animals.

Why did you close so early?

Planning of the early works began more than 18 months before the closure. The delivering of this work was complex with many projects interlinked, and timeframes reliant on specific projects needed to be completed prior to delivering tasks in another project area.

Since closing we have been destocking the facility, improving visitor access which has required meticulous planning and logistics that could not be rushed.

Learn more about our plans to rebuild the Aquarium here.

Is the Turtle Hospital coming back?

The Turtle Hospital will be completely revamped and expanded. The hospital operates under, and promotes the Conserve, Act, Rehabilitate, Educate philosophy, playing a key role in raising community awareness in relation to threatened species and encouraging behavioural change that contributes to nature conservation.


The Turtle Hospital is one of our priority exhibits; it provides a dedicated facility where sick and injured marine turtles can be cared for and rehabilitated. In its more than 10 years of operation, the hospital has cared for 255 patients, and inspired more than 270,000 guests who visited through our premier talk and tour program.


While the Aquarium is closed, sick and injured turtles can be cared for at the Magnetic Island Network for Turtles (MINT) and at James Cook University’s Turtle Health Research Centre.


To report stranded marine animals call the Queensland Government Wildlife Hotline on 1300 130 372.

Are education programs still running?

The Reef Authority’s education team are hosting regular conferences with local schools, nationally and internationally.


We continue to offer an extensive range of educational resources and programs, so everyone has access to information on how they can See the Reef, Love the Reef and Protect the Reef.


Please visit our new ReefEd portal to access some of the terrific education materials we have available.


Information can be found on our website.


The Great Barrier Reef Aquarium is the Australian Government’s National Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef and is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (Reef Authority). For more information see here.


During our temporary transformation closure we will reinvigorate our membership program. Follow our social media channels and check the website for updates closer to our reopening.

Filming and Location filming

We are very proud of the Great Barrier Reef Aquarium and we know you are too. Share some of your favourite memories with us on social media by using #greatbarrierreefaquairum and tagging us on Facebook or Instagram (@greatbarrierreefaquarium).

If you’re looking for content for a documentary or news piece, then we’d love to hear from you. As we are closed for transformation works, we may be able to conduct interviews offsite and provide footage to complement stories.

We have some great stories to tell:

Turtle Hospital: Since opening in 2009 we have cared for more than 255 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.

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.

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.

Media Enquiries

If you are a member of the media and are interested in learning more about the Great Barrier Reef Aquarium please contact the Reef Authority media team on (07) 4750 0846 or email

Page published on: 10 May 2023

Page last updated on: 22 January 2024