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The Melbourne Aquarium is located on the north bank of the Yarra River at King Street, near the old Melbourne turning basin, and is owned by the Melbourne Underwater Trust, a subsidiary of the international Oceanis Group which owns aquariums in Shanghai, Korea and Queensland. The striking contemporary-styled building above and below the waterline was designed by architects Peddle Thorp and opened in January 2000. Filtered water is drawn from Port Phillip Bay for a 2 million litre tank that displays the creatures of the Southern Ocean, with additional coral reef, sea jelly and mangrove beach attractions.

Australia's first aquarium was located at the Royal Exhibition Building from 1885. With fresh and seawater fish, performing seals, and an eerie cork-lined grotto for darkened viewing of the creature-filled contents of the tanks, it was an early tourism attraction and popular with children. Novelty entertainments, a popular museum and cinemas were also located here. It was not rebuilt after being destroyed in a spectacular fire on 28 January 1953.

David Dunstan