Something we missed last time we were in Melbourne and determined not to miss again was the Sea Life Aquarium. Located right in the heart of the CBD (cnr Flinders Street and King Street, opposite the Crown Entertainment Complex), it is extremely convenient for public transport and parking, and hard to miss with the large signs indicating its presence.
The Aquarium is open from 9:30am – 6pm every day of the year. Last entry is at 5pm, and honestly, there’s no point turning up this late because there is just so much to see, you would be racing around and miss it all.
The cheapest tickets are available through the Aquarium’s own website, http://melbourneaquarium.experienceoz.com.au/melbourne-aquarium-online-ticketing/general-admission. Purchase online and a 10% discount applies to their standard entry fee.
Child (4-15yrs): $19.80
Concession (Student or Pensioner): $27.00
Family (2A+2C): $86.40
Single Family (1Ad + 2Ch): $59.40
*The above prices are with the 10% discount
NOTE: Your voucher MUST be printed off and presented at the admission counter. No voucher, no entry – and no, you cannot just show them the voucher on your phone or tablet.
A full list of their feed and talk times can be found at www.melbourneaquarium.com.au/general-info/feeds-and-talks.
You can also join a Behind The Scenes Tour, where you’ll have the chance to stand on top of the Oceanarium, watch huge stingrays get fed, see the Aquarium’s food prep area, vet office, research laboratory, dive zone and quarantine areas. There is an extra cost for this on top of the price of your entry ticket: $20 for adults and $16 for children. It runs from Monday – Saturday at 12 and 1pm.
There are 12 exhibit areas across the Aquarium:
Croc Lair: Come face-to-face with Pinjarra, the world’s largest Saltwater Crocodile. This croc is HUGE – actually, that’s an understatement – try MASSIVE, or anything similar! For a large chunk of the time we stood in front of his enclosure he really didn’t move at all (so much so that for the sake of the school children going through, the keeper had to remove the whole chook that was thrown in for his meal, which obviously didn’t appeal to him enough to move). However, when he did move, and slowly made his way over to the glass where we stood, he just got bigger, and bigger, and bigger. Our photos really couldn’t do it justice, and it’s hard to comprehend their true size until you’re literally standing face to face with one. Nearly worth the price of entry alone!
Mermaid Garden: The panoramic views through the underwater tank, complete with stadium seating so you can sit back and just absorb it all in, were simply incredible. Through this exhibit it is easy to see why people fall in love with scuba diving. It’s mystical, magical and breathtaking all in one. The tank holds 2.2 million litres of water, and a variety of sea life from huge stingrays, sharks, eels and fish.
Penguin Playground: If you’ve ever seen the movie Old Dogs, you will know that these creatures look cute and cuddly but can be anything but. Fortunately for us, all they wanted to do was waddle around and put on a happy show streaking through the water, which is beautiful to see through the large glass wall. We confess we kept waiting for one to fall and slide down the ‘snowy’ slopes in the pen, but aside from the adorable waddle they were actually quite coordinated.
Bay of Rays: This area is home to the world’s only display of Elephant Sharks. If you’ve never seen one before, you’ll understand the name immediately on sight!
Rainforest Adventure: The rainforest zone had an incredible range of creatures, and the environment is so well created that you will feel like you’ve been transported. If you’re a little queasy around the creapy crawlies, this won’t be your favourite part of the Aquarium! It has all manner of the bizarre, from bugs, Lungfish, freshwater turtles and frogs, and come face-to-face with the world’s largest display of Archerfish. Pop your head over the waist-high open air tank and watch the spitting fish – you’ll know what we mean when you see it.
Turtle Rescue Centre: See some of the wonderful work that the Aquarium does in voluntarily rescuing and rehabilitating injured Sea Turtles, until they are fit to be returned to their natural home.
Sea Horse Nursery: Magical little creatures, everything is not as it appears in these tanks. That green leafy thing may just turn out to be a seahorse in disguise.
Coral Atoll: Visit all your favourite friends from Finding Nemo in this spectacularly vibrant and colourful tank. This was a real favourite with the children and school groups we saw.
The onsite Coral Cafe, overlooking the Yarra River, serves drinks (hot and cold), and a wide variety of hot and cold foods including Burgers, Fish and Chips, Seafood, Hot Dogs, Pies and Sausage Rolls, as well as fresh sandwiches, salads and wraps. There are also cakes, muffins and icecreams.
Kids meals are also available, including mini burgers, hot dogs, nuggets and sandwich packs, and drinks.
The Aquarium has the usual gift shop at the exit, where you can pick up some fluffy new friends or various other trinkets. If you had your photo taken at the entrance when you arrived, stop by the stall to see how they turned out. If you’re not one for getting original photos, they also offer e-downloads as well. We thought the price quite reasonable and the photos were good quality.
View some of our photos at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.642911692411590.1073741888.207821662587264&type=1&l=b73dc935a9.
Overall, we spent a large chunk of the day here and probably could have gone a bit slower if we stopped to read all the information displays and see all the shows. It’s a great day out for young and old and very good value.