I'm a freelance writer living in Perth. Having 2 young kids with endless energy, we are always on the lookout for new outdoor activities.
Published January 8th 2016
Info you need to know but not available in AQWA Website
AQWA (Aquarium of Western Australia) at Hillary's Boat Harbour is one of the most popular holiday destinations for families as well as visitors to Perth/ WA shores. However, there is unfortunately no FAQ section in their website.
AQWA is a popular holiday destination in Perth
We can find out the opening hours, the entry fee, the exhibits, and how to get there from AQWA website. But there are also other things we may want to know beforehand such as parking, food, drink, etc. So I boldly propose the following few items that would be useful especially for those first timers or repeat visitors who last visited this place quite some time ago.
AQWA has a 4P public carpark right in front of its door, so we can park for free for four hours, which I think is enough time to enjoy all the aquariums inside. Hillary's Boat Harbour in itself is a big destination with various attractions, so other than AQWA carpark, there is also plenty of space in the general Hillary's Boat Harbour carpark. However on weekends or school holidays, it would be wise to come early (perhaps at 10am when AQWA opens) to ensure a parking spot as later in the day, all carparks do fill up.
Universal Access As far as I can see, there is access for wheelchairs and strollers to all corners of AQWA. Where there are stairs, there is also a lift or ramp to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers. The problem on busy days are there are just too many people in the building and they don't always keep to the recommended flow (as given in AQWA Map). Therefore on days like this people with wheelchairs or strollers would have a little bit difficulty navigating the busy (and sometimes darkened) hallways.
There are universal access toilet facilities as well as baby changing stations.
Food and Drinks We are allowed to bring food and drinks into AQWA and just to be very clear, these should be for human consumption, not to be fed to any animals in the aquariums.
Picnic tables with a view of the Coral Reef Pool
There are a couple of outdoor picnic areas for us to spread our fares. One area is near the Coral Reef Pool/ Aquarium. It's a simple row of picnic tables and if we come at the right time we can watch the reefwalkers go in and out of the coral reef pool/ aquarium. The second picnic area is at Stingray Bay, at the very end of AQWA site. This site has a playground suitable for young children and some picnic tables with umbrellas.
Playground at Stingray Bay
There is one drinking water fountain for us to drink or fill up our water bottle, it's located near the outdoor touch pool, in the hallway going to the toilet. The water is not cold though, just room temperature tap water.
If we don't bring our own food/ drink, not to worry. There's a cafe on site, which serves lunch, snacks, and also sells hot and cold beverages. There's also a bar (inside the cafe). The cafe has indoor as well as alfresco sit down areas, both of which do fill up at lunch time on busy days.
Wifi There is free wifi at two locations within AQWA: The cafe and one corner of the "Far North Coast" exhibit. Password is required and provided by AQWA.
Scheduled Performances AQWA don't have trained animal performances such as seal or dolphin shows. There are scheduled times when an AQWA employee will provide guided tours or talk visitors through an exhibit. The timings for these scheduled activities are posted on the exhibit itself, so take note of these times on the day of your visit.
At times, most notably during school holidays, there are also special activities, for example in the Christmas 2015/ New Year 2016 period, the Perth Mermaids visited AQWA for underwater performances in the Shipwreck Coast Aquarium. These special performances were announced in AQWA website.
The Perth mermaids visited AQWA
If you have anything else to ask or to add to this list, please feel free to leave a comment below.