Have you ever wanted to see what lies beneath the ocean but haven't got round to learning how to scuba dive? If so then AQWA (The Aquarium of Western Australia), may be just what you have been looking for.
AQWA is designed to take you on a journey underwater along the coastline of Western Australia.
Starting in the cold waters of the Great Southern Ocean you explore the seas in comfort and safety. You move on and down (literally) into the depths of the shipwreck coast where a travelling walkway moves you slowly through the largest fish aquarium in Australia.
Here large fish like snapper, trevally, mulloway and large sharks glide effortlessly past, only centimetres from where you stand. In this aquarium you are the one on the inside looking out while fish swim both sides and above you.
Magnificent stingrays glide silently past and you become lost in the wonder of a world that is usually reserved for trained divers.
You can stay on the moving walkway going slowly around as long as you like or you can step off and stay in one place while fish of many species swim by.
When you have had your fill of the shipwreck coast you can move on to the Perth coast and see what lies beneath the waves off-shore from where you are standing. Next comes the DANGERzone where you can see deadly animals like the blue ringed octopus, cone shells, venomous anemones , stone fish and fish that are poisonous to eat.
As you wander through the exhibits make sure you also have a look at the many information boards that tell you much more about the under-sea world. It is very easy to overlook this information in favour of the inhabitants of the aquariums but you will gain much more from your visit if you read the information provided as well.
Now might be a good time for a break as you may have been standing gazing in wonder at the sights around you for quite some time. We found that time slipped away almost un-noticed at the Shipwreck Coast aquarium where you feel almost a part of the fishes world. If you need a break and some refreshment you can visit the cafe and afterwards have a look at the gift shop before continuing to explore.
Moving outside the main building you will find the touch pool where you can gently stroke Port Jackson sharks and other harmless marine creatures.
Then it is on to the Marmion Marine Park and Perth Coast and one of the most successful coral eco-systems that has been developed in a aquarium environment. It is notoriously difficult to keep coral alive in a man-made enclosure and the staff at AQWA work very hard at maintaining this very impressive exhibit.
The coral aquarium is alive with many species of tropical fish. Seats, thoughtfully provided here, give you the chance to sit, relax and just soak in the sights in front of you.
From here you can move on to Stingray Bay and watch more of the graceful creatures float past almost as if they are flying.
AQWA is located at Hillarys Boat Harbour north west of Perth city. The aquarium complex itself will take about two hours to see properly and other attractions at the boat harbour are also worth lingering for.
For prices, opening times, information about diving with sharks, reefwalker, ocean safari, educational access and the AQWA function centre, please visit the AQWA website.