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Paynters appointed to lead refurbishment of Townsville’s Reef HQ Aquarium

Paynters appointed to lead refurbishment of Townsville’s Reef HQ Aquarium
September 10, 2021

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has appointed Paynters as the principal contractor for the $80.1 million refurbishment of the 34-year-old facility - Townsville’s Reef HQ Aquarium - the Australian Government’s global education centre for the Great Barrier Reef.

The contract between Paynters and The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) will cover all works under the now fully funded Reef HQ 20-year Master Plan.

The Reef HQ refurbishment is funded by the Australian Government as part of the Townsville City Deal.

The project will transform Reef HQ, the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium, into Australia's national centre of excellence for tropical coral reef education, making it a premium international tourism destination as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

The new-look Reef HQ will include immersive experiences and revitalised exhibits with educational activities, hands-on experiences, onsite diving programs, scientific demonstrations and the use of interactive technology.

Federal Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley notes “The Reef HQ aquarium is ideally placed to be at the heart of a world-leading marine science precinct, showcasing Townsville’s reputation as an international leader in marine science, research and education.

“Once completed, the rejuvenation of the much-loved Reef HQ will showcase the complexity and wonder of the Reef to new generations, confirming Townsville as the place to research and care for the Reef and its amazing marine life.

“Our team are working tirelessly on the planning, construction, and the new design to deliver an outstanding Reef education experience when it reopens.”

Federal Member for Herbert, Phillip Thompson advised “Reef HQ is one of Townsville’s most recognisable tourist attractions, and this project will see it become our national centre of excellence for coral reef education.

“We were already investing in significant repair works to guarantee the facility’s life for decades to come, so to be able to go this extra step, do it once, and do it properly, is great for the community, visitors and the staff.”

Paynters North Queensland Manager Michael Koen added “I am incredibly proud to see my team delivering this unique, community driven project. This is a key project of significant value for the Townsville region that presents a number of flow-on opportunities during the construction phase.

“This includes jobs for apprentices, school-based trainees, and local subcontractors, as well as Indigenous participation in jobs and other opportunities through the supply chain servicing the project.” 

Reef HQ Aquarium closed 1st February 2021 to prepare the facility for the works. It is expected to reopen at the end of 2023.

More information on the Townsville City Deal is available here 

For more on Paynters go to

Image: Reef HQ refurbishment concept

Related Articles

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11th August 2021 - Installation commences of Gold Coast’s Wonder Reef attraction

23rd July 2021 - World Heritage Committee places Australian Government ‘on probation’ as custodians of the Reef

20th July 2021 - Experience Co commences building of Great Barrier Reef pontoon

19th July 2021 - Australian Institute of Marine Science data should not impact UNESCO’s decision on the Reef

13th July 2021 - Australian Conservation groups call for Great Barrier Reef to be placed on ‘In Danger’ list

9th July 2021 - 36 schools receive approval for Great Barrier Reef Education Experience

24th June 2021 - Great Barrier Reef tour company deploys world’s first wireless underwater drone to collect data

21st June 2021 - Great Barrier Reef Education Experience Program opens

2nd June 2021 - Commercial reef tourism operators to benefit from Reef Education Program

26th April 2021 - Artificial reef being installed off Perth’s Ocean Reef

22nd February 2021 - 17 marine tourism operators funded to monitor health of Great Barrier Reef

4th December 2020 - Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority elects Jeff Baines as inaugural Chair of Reef Guardian Council

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