Diving into diversity

22 March, 2017

AQWA—the Aquarium of Western Australia—is about to enter an exciting chapter in its relatively short history.

AQWA General Manager John Lowe and his team have been working tirelessly putting together an above-ground outdoor aquarium called Adventure Bay.

Redeveloped with value-adding interaction in mind, Adventure Bay stands in an area which was previously a dolphin arena in the 1990s and, most recently, a flat pond aquarium for stingray viewings.

Working to make it attractive for both young and old, the diversified area now doubles as a children’s entertainment hub during the day and unique function venue at night, displaying more of the flexibility AQWA has embraced since it opened its doors in 1988.

“The new aquarium is a way of modernising as we are continually adding more infrastructure and exhibits. But it’s not just about more fish. We are trying to entertain people and provide a visitor experience which is unmatched anywhere else,” Lowe says.

“We have kids’ playgrounds and we have an amphitheatre, we have an alfresco area, a kiosk and a dive hub which is being built under the stairs. We can have weddings, we can have presentations and corporate sundowners. There are all these things we can do now that we couldn’t do in the past.

"We are continually upgrading our facilities and we are really starting to entertain people more than we have ever been.”

Featuring sparkling local herring visible from a large front panel, the new development will also play host to the establishment’s three new dive and snorkel programs and children’s activities, including a Mermaid Magic show every Tuesday.

“It’s not just about a fish in a tank; it’s about making things interesting to them. It’s about a visitor experience and a day out. It’s about ticking all of the boxes—you will have people that walk away and say they’ve had a wonderful time, and ultimately they become our ambassadors,” Lowe says.

The idea came about after it was discovered AQWA’S existing dive program was excluding a rather large chunk of its client base.

“We already have a dive program where you can dive with the sharks in the main tank. But if you want to dive, first of all you have to be comfortable getting in with sharks, and the second thing, you need to be a qualified diver,” Lowe says.

The playground area opened just before Christmas, with the team going through a whole training regime, including that of dive masters and mermaids.

“Now we are completely ready to rock and roll. The public can book and hop in the tank with this expanded dive program,” Lowe says.