When we arrived the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, there was a snaking queue to buy tickets. It was right at that moment that I wished we purchased the tickets online because while the boy queued, I had to keep the little man entertained. Thankfully, there is a small cafe within the same premises and I could gobble down a croissant and run after the kid who insisted on running in the opposite direction every 20 seconds.
Tip: Plan ahead. If you know that you intend to visit these attractions that offer online purchase of tickets, DO IT and save yourself a lot of time and stress.
When he got to the front of the queue (finally), the boy wisely decided to buy a pass that allows us entry into 3 attractions centered at Darling Harbour – SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo and Madam Tussaud’s Sydney. Other than saving money, this also means that we do not need to repeat the queuing exercise at the next attraction.
As with many attractions, the staff will get a group photo of you in front of a green/blue screen. You can politely decline if you do not wish to purchase the photo at the end of your visit.
Being the school holidays, the aquarium was packed with school-going children as well as tourists (like us). Elliott has been fascinated by “fizz” (fish) so he was pretty excited to be seeing so many “fizz” in front of him. Most of the exhibits were too high for him so we had to carry him to view them.
The aquarium is designed in such a way that there is a single route that you can follow as you weave your way around the exhibits. However, we did encounter one dead end which was a bit odd. We took our stroller but because of the crowd, we carried Elliott most of the time so that he can see the exhibits and used the stroller to dump our coats and (heavy) diaper bag.
Tip: The entire attraction is pretty dim so if you have more than one child, do keep a close watch because it will be easy to lose him/her in the crowd and low light situation.
One area that was catered to little visitors is the Octonauts Zone. The son enjoyed steering the “submarine” and we had to almost forcibly extract him from it. Again, this area is suited for older kids who are able to read and answer the related questions on the exhibits. Naturally, this area was particularly packed with parents and very excited kids (read: High noise level).
Tip: Do note that the exhibits at this kids area change regularly so check the website for the latest exhibit.
The highlight of the visit is definitely the ocean tunnels where huge fish like sting rays and sharks swam were housed. Elliott couldn’t take his eyes off the various sea creatures gliding gracefully over our heads. Even we were fascinated.
There were a lot of “Ooh look at the SHARK!“, or “Waaaaaah! What a huge stingray, bubu!” that went on. It was beautiful to watch him take it all in as he pointed and verbalized (“SHARK!“) some of the creatures he recognized.
One of highlights was having a dugong swim right in front of us. It was so so close! It made me realise why these beautiful creatures have been often mistaken as mermaids.
And did you know that you more likely to win the lottery than to be killed by a shark and sharks are older than dinosaurs, having lived in our oceans for 4 million years.
Finally, there is also an area where you can view the large tank. There were also benches for weary parents
like us to rest our legs.
The last bit of this exhibition is being able to view the sea creatures from top-down, in an open area where it leads to the exit. To be honest, we could not see much except for the larger creatures. Dotted around the perimeter of the tank were interesting information boards about the various exhibits.
I only had time to glance at a few of them because I could tell that the little man was getting sleepy after one entire morning of admiring sealife. Oh, there’s also a small touchpool near the exit which will be suitable for older kids who will not try and squeeze the poor starfish to near death :)
SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium reminded me a lot of Underwater World in Singapore, with a tiny bit of S.E.A. Aquarium (the large glass tank) thrown in. Having said that, I think little ones like Elliott (below 3 years old) will enjoy looking at the graceful sea creatures in their tanks. Also, this is a covered attraction so it is great for days when the weather is not favourable.
Tip: Save this attraction for a cold and gloomy day so that you can remain warm and toasty and importantly, DRY.
We chose to visit because it was a very cold and windy day so staying indoors was the way to go. Also, because of the dim l ighting, it was near impossible to take good photos unless you are good with dim light photography :)