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As anyone who’s seen Finding Nemo can confirm, Australia is home to a colourful array of marine life, from crabs, coral and crocodiles to sharks, sea lions and stingrays. So where are the best places to admire the these underwater marvels without getting wet? Try these eight aquariums and marine parks around Australia.
Welcome to the largest living coral reef aquarium in the world, established in tropical Townsville 30 years ago as the government’s national education centre for the Great Barrier Reef. Experience the wonders of the reef with a 2.5 million litre exhibition containing 130 species of coral as well as thousands of weird and wonderful underwater creatures like worms, snails, sea urchins, sponges and sea cucumbers, plus a turtle hospital.
2/68 Flinders St, Townsville City QLD, +61 7 4750 0800
The Gold Coast is Australia’s theme park capital — crowds flock to Warner Bros. Movie World, Wet ’n’ Wild, Dreamworld and WhiteWater World — but Sea World has been a favourite with families for almost four decades. There are thrill rides and live kids entertainment but the dolphins are the stars of the show, with a number of up-close-and-personal experiences available to book. Encounters with sharks, seals, penguins and polar bears are also on offer.
Seaworld Dr, Main Beach QLD, +61 7 5588 2222
This green shed on Tasmania’s north-west coast was originally built to process crayfish, but is now home to some of Tassie’s most remarkable sea life. We’re talking Tasmanian giant crabs that grow to a size of 16 kilometres, six-foot long conger eels, playful striped trumpeter fish and female octopi hatching their eggs. The gift shop also stocks local crayfish, abalone, crab, salmon and pickled octopus if the irony of tucking into seafood after visiting an aquarium isn’t too much.
Fishermans Dock, Wharf Road, Stanley TAS, +61 3 6458 2052