About Great Barrier Reef Aquarium
The Great Barrier Reef Aquarium is the National Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef.

About US

At the Great Barrier Reef Aquarium, Townsville, North Queensland, visitors will be able to experience the Great Barrier Reef without getting wet, at the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium.

One of the most complex and diverse ecosystems in the world, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park begins at the tip of Cape York in Queensland and extends south to Bundaberg, over 2,300kms.

As the Australian Government’s National Education Centre for the Reef, the Aquarium for more than 30 years, it opened many hearts and minds to an amazing world filled with thousands of charismatic marine creatures. With impressive exhibits the aquarium offered an ever changing, always fascinating experience, showcasing rare and extraordinary features of the Great Barrier Reef.

Since December 2019, the Aquarium has received $80.1 million in Government funding to upgrade the iconic facility. While these exciting works take place, we are currently closed to the public.

We look forward to welcoming you back with a refreshed, reinvigorated and renewed Aquarium. To join us on this journey, please follow our social media channels and check the website for updates. You can view what the refurbishments encompass, by visiting an overview on the works click here.

The iconic reef HQ aquarium spire
The iconic great barrier reef aquarium spire

The vision

The Great Barrier Reef Aquarium was originally the vision of Dr Graeme Kelleher, a former chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (Reef Authority).

Dr Kelleher’s objective was to create the Great Barrier Reef on land, making the reef accessible and affordable while at the same time spreading the reef conservation message and gaining public support for the protection of the ‘real thing’.

We are honoured to continue his vision and remain committed to providing everyone access to one of the world’s most spectacular natural eco-systems and a global icon that is the Great Barrier Reef.

Graeme Kelleher Great Barrier Reef Aquarium visionary Great Barrier Reef Aquarium - Townsville - Queensland - Australia
Graeme Kelleher
EnhancedReef HQ Aquarium building sign Reef HQ Aquarium Townsville Queensland Australia topaz Great Barrier Reef Aquarium - Townsville - Queensland - Australia
The original building site in 1986

our names over the years

Reef HQ, as we are now commonly known, opened on June 24, 1987 as part of the Bicentennial Commemorative Project and was called The Great Barrier Reef Aquarium. In 1999 it was renamed Reef HQ Aquarium and in 2009 the Aquarium returned to its grass roots by being named Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium. In the past it has also been known as Great Barrier Reef Wonderland, a reference to the incredible spectacle Reef HQ Aquarium offers its visitors.

Stay informed

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Learn more about the transformation with regular updates from the Aquarium Team.