The Melbourne Aquarium and NGV

Yesterday, we had our big excursion to Melbourne where we visited the Melbourne Aquarium and the National Gallery of Victoria.

After an early morning start of 6:30am, we arrived in Melbourne at the aquarium ready for a day filled of fun and learning. We were greeted by our guides, Justin and Elly, who too us straight to the Australian rainforest display. If was here that we got to see one of the most coolest fish I have ever seen – the Archer fish. To catch its food, the Archer fish spits water at insects sitting on leaves in the tree so they fall off and into the water for them to eat. Here is a video of Justin showing us just how it works.

The next stop was the coral reef, where we all spotted some clownfish and some sea horses. There were also some very cute puffer fish swimming around in one of the tanks. It was here that we learnt that male sea horses are the ones that carry the babies in their pouch, not the mums like all other creatures who have pouches.

The penguins were next and they were just what we hoped for – cute and very entertaining to watch. There were two types of penguins in the enclosure – Gentoo penguins, which are the fastest swimming penguins, and King penguins which have the lovely yellow feathers on their front. Some fun facts we learnt were that penguins eat the equivalent of 2,000 chicken nuggets a day which means they also go to the toilet about every 17 minutes. Baby penguins start out with brown feathers. They then lose these feathers after a year and get their adult feathers. While they have their baby feathers, they aren’t allowed to swim because the feathers would become really heavy and the baby penguins could drown. The penguins were beginning to nest and in the next few months, they will start laying their eggs. So if you’d like to see some penguins nesting, you could plan a trip to the Melbourne Aquarium in the next couple of months!

After the penguins we headed in and saw some rays. One of the rays we saw was called and elephant shark. An elephant shark gets its name from its funny looking trunk, which is a little bit like an elephants. While we were in this area, we also got to touch some shark eggs, shells, coral and sea stars in the rock pool display. It was lots of fun getting our hands wet. It was here we learnt that sea stars are now called sea stars and not starfish because they are not actually a fish. Sea stars also have their mouths on the bottom and sometimes, to get food, they place themselves over the end of a shell and vomit into it. their vomit turns the stuff inside into a liquid that the sea star then drinks.

The dangerous sea creatures were next and we saw some lion fish, sea jellies (formerly known as jelly fish) and eels. The sea jellies looked really cool under the lights and it was like they were glowing. After seeing the dangerous creatures, we headed to the big tank and looked at some creatures that were not very dangerous at all – the sharks and stingrays. Justin set us the challenge to find Mr G, the big fish, Mitchell the shark and Dino the stingray. Elly told us that when Mr G first came to the aquarium, he ate not 1, not 2 but 3 of their sharks! So now they have to make sure he gets plenty of food so he doesn’t eat the other sharks or fish. Here are some videos of us in the big tank!

Our final stop was to check out Pinjarra the crocodile. When we were looking in the tank we noticed there were a few fish swimming in the tank too. Elly told us that these fish were Pinjarra’s personal dentists and that after he eats his food, he opens his mouth under the water and the fish come along and clean the left over food out of his teeth. We were also told that Pinjarra could stay under water for 2 hours which was the same amount of time we were at the aquarium for!

After the aquarium, we strolled along Southbank and had some lunch. We were even lucky enough to see Damien Hardwick, coach of the Richmond Tigers, run past us as we were walking.

The National Gallery of Victoria was our next stop. We spent a couple of hours wandering around and having a look at the artwork and exhibitions. Our favourite was the Open House: Tromarama exhibition. There was a room with a coloured dance floor and lots of the students got their boogie on. The second room had lots of microphones where you could record yourself saying something or making sounds and then the creatures in the garden said these things back to you in cool and weird voices. Finally, the bedroom and bathroom had stations set up where we could create our own animations. While we were wandering around the gallery, we also got to see a piece of Pablo Picasso’s work – The Weeping Woman, and we spent some time lying down and staring at the roof in the Great Hall. On our way out, we stopped at the main entrance and put our hands on the wall of water!

After a very long day, we made it home and I’m sure everyone had an early night. I would like to thank the parents who joined us for the day – Rod, Belinda, Karam, Alban, Tanya, Kerry, Christy, Tarsha and Anita – as you helped to make the day run smoothly and did a fantastic job of looking after small groups of the students at the NGV.

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