I am a writer living in Melbourne who loves to devour culture and the arts. Visit me at www.pumptheatre.com.au
Step inside the jaws of a shark and touch a starfish
Not sure where to take the kids on the weekend?
Step into SEA LIFE Melbourne and join the LEGO Sea Explorers on a mission to explore life beneath the sea. Wade amongst the rockpools, touch shells, sponges and starfish, get up close and personal with clownfish like 'Nemo' and hop inside the jaws of a shark!
This is great for kids and adults alike, especially if you do not live near the beach, or have not visited the tropics. There are special peepholes built into the fish tanks where you can pop your head up, and experience what it is like to live in a coral reef with tropical fish and special other creatures.
A word of warning - SEA LIFE Melbourne does get crowded on weekends, so plan ahead and allow a good one to two hours to experience the exhibition fully. There are talks and workshops, so check online and plan your visit around the showtimes, especially for fish, shark or penguin feeding times.
The SEA LIFE Discovery pass gives you access to the aquarium but also to the LEGO Discovery Centre at Chadstone. On the day I visited SEA LIFE, the LEGO Sea Explorers were hard to find. Although there were some LEGO play stations available, the children found the penguins and other sea life much more interesting. However, there is a room with a life-size tank which has touchpads where children can colour in the fish, which is a nice break if their little legs are tired and fact sheets to fill out during your journey.
SEA LIFE Melbourne is well located to trams along Flinders Street and is only a short walk across the bridge from Southbank. There is room to take a pram and the venue is fully accessible with ramps, elevators and stairs between the three levels of the aquarium.
My favourite part of the SEA LIFE journey is watching children interact with the fish tanks and 'worlds' created. There is low lighting and this is not only good for the fish but also gives a sense of a 'treasure hunt' style of adventure to find the different sea animals hiding in the nooks and crannies of the aquarium.
There is a cafe inside the aquarium, restrooms and parent rooms. Playing with water is fun, but also might be a little cold, so make sure you bring a coat or jumper for your little ones, especially when they see the Emperor Penguins, which is a highlight of the aquarium.