If you want to see the sea without getting seasickness, look no further than Reef HQ Aquarium. An excellent aquarium located in Townsville, Reef HQ lays proud claim to being the largest living coral reef museum in the world.
Located on the waterfront in the same complex as the Museum of Tropical Queensland and the Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Centre, Reef HQ is home to a staggering 2.5 million litres of water. The coral-reef tanks are home to 130 coral while 120 other species all call Reef HQ home. If that sounds impressive to you that’s because it is!
In no way meaning to dissuade you from visiting the Great Barrier Reef proper, recent environmental degradation has led some people to believe that Reef HQ offers even better underwater viewing opportunities than what's on display at the reef itself. Many will disagree but Reef HQ sure has its highlights, the Predator Exhibit being one of them.
Set against a replica of the bow of the SS Yongala, which sank in 1911 off the coast of Townsville during a wild cyclone and was only located in 1958, the Predator Exhibit is where to find hammerhead sharks, rays and groupers. Over at the Coral Reef Exhibit you'll find a reef similar to what you'll find a few dozen kilometres out to sea. A pneumatic wave machine creates real life motion, and being open to the weather means the exhibits receive natural precipitation, sun and moonlight.
Talks and tours throughout the day focus on different aspects of the reef and the aquarium. Kids especially will love seeing, feeding and touching turtles at the turtle hospital, while people of all ages will be enthralled by the shark feeds. To continue your underwater experience without getting wet, close to Reef HQ you'll find the IMAX cinema. Enquire about a combined IMAX/Reef HQ ticket if you want to save a few dollars for ice-cream.