Melbourne Aquarium

The Antarctic exhibit here is a favourite with all kids. The large king and gentoo penguins waddle right  up to the glass and kids crouch down, thrilled to be nose-to-beak with these endearing creatures. They laugh and point at the clumsy gait of the penguins as they clamber around on snow, then watch in  awe at the effortless way the same animals glide through water. Other highlights for kids: having giant  stingrays swim right overhead, and the excitement of seeing divers in the water with sharks.

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Contact details

Cnr King and Flinders sts, Melbourne; (03) 9923 5925

Don't Miss

■ Keeper talks and feed times throughout the day; check the website for details. One of the favourites  for kids is ‘Talk to a Diver’, when a diver answers questions inside a tank full of sharks.

■ The Rock Pool exhibit, a real hit with the littlies. There is a special Touch and Feel presentation here  once a day, but hands-on opportunities such as patting a live starfish, touching a shark egg or  squeezing a sponge are available all the time. And don’t miss the amazingly camouflaged flounders!
■ Little kid-size tunnels under some of the tanks. Kids like crawling inside and finding their own special viewing domes in the middle of the tanks.

Fabulous Facts

King penguins have the longest breeding cycle of any bird. It takes the parent birds 14–16 months to  raise a single chick. The fluffy, brown chicks look nothing like their parents. King penguins are the  second largest penguins in the world (emperor penguins are the largest).

Insider Tips

■ The layout of the aquarium is rather confusing, with exhibits spread out on several levels connected  by ramps, lifts and escalators. Luckily, there are plenty of helpful staff members. 

■ The cafe offers reasonably priced kids’ meals.
■ On weekdays there is a constant stream of school groups between 10am and 3pm, but there seems  to be room for everyone, and you can listen in on some of the guides’ commentaries.
■ As you go down the ramps to enter the Sharks Alive exhibit, little people might be disconcerted by  the huge jaws on display and some of the film footage of sharks being projected on the wall. 
■ There is the option of a glass-bottomed boat ride in the tank filled with sharks and stingrays (extra  cost). This includes a behind-the-scenes tour and the chance to talk to the divers. The minimum age
is 4 years; book at the front desk or phone ahead.
■ A fun way to reach the aquarium is by the City Circle Tram, a vintage tram that offers a free ride  with commentary around the city; 1800 800 166;

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