Sydney Aquarium - if you can't get to the Barrier Reef

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by actonsteve on May 1, 2006


That sign is above the "Saltwater Crocodile" enclosure and shows a lovely Aussie sense of humour.

The fall itself is 20ft straight down into the jaws of a true monster. Australia has the biggest crocodiles in the world and the biggest of these live in the river strips/coastal territories of Queensland and the Northern Territory. The Aquarium had one such brute - a lethargic reptile over six foot long. He looked fearsome enough from ground level, but you could climb a set of steps and see him and his pool from above. Hence the warning to be careful. He looked quiet enough but no doubt he'd be as quick as a flash if someone fell in. And I noticed the walls were too high to climb out as well.

When you wander around the harbour you can treat yourself to at least one museum/attraction and I would pick this one above all. They do say if your trip doesn't include the Barrier Reef then this is a good alternative. Certainly a lot of expense has been ploughed into it and thought has been spent on how to incorporate it into the harbour. In fact, the water is so clean in the harbour that it is used naturally for some of the enclosures. Admittance is a steep $25 per person and you enter through an artificial sharks mouth.

First off is the wildlife of Australia's river system and I immediately failed to spot a platypus. I did, however, get to see what yabbies looked like (small blue crayfish) and the mud skippers were amusing with just their eyes peering out of the yuck. Next was where wharves had been converted into the aquarium and the sea lion pool was washed with fresh seawater constantly. You could walk around the pool or travel in a perspex tunnel and watch the sea mammals twist and spin underwater.

But best of all was the tropical section.

The corridors were pitch black making the lighting in the tanks more pronounced. One tank took my breathe away - it was stuffed to the brim with jellyfish. Red lighting lit them from underneath making their pulsating more ethereal and magical.. But the climax was The Great Barrier Reef Tank which was simply colossal. It was full of artificial reef life as well of shoals of hundreds of brightly coloured fish. The tank actually extended underneath the glass floor, and fish moved beneath your feet. It was rather unnerving to have a giant grouper glide above you, while a sawfish swims beneath you. A shoal of fish had taken the last 30 feet of tank as their own and were very close to the glass. The Aquarium provided classical music as you watched this tank. It was so enchanting it was like watching something out of "Fantasia"..
Sydney Aquarium
Aquarium Pier, Darling Harbour
Sydney, Australia, 2000
+61 (2) 8251-7800

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