The Marine Discovery Centre is located within the North Star Holiday Resort complex at Hastings Point, and is one of Australia’s largest, privately funded museums. It is packed with interactive digital terminals, and world class marine and coastal science displays focused on the local Hastings Point ecosystem.
The centre largely caters to school groups and camps, however it opens every Saturday morning to the general public (additional sessions also open during school holidays). Open from 10am – 12pm, each week one of the passionate Marine Discovery Centre eco-guides conducts a two-hour session where you can immerse yourself in the wonders of the deep, and the shallows too!
We arrived at 10am on the dot, and were able to have a look around the centre on our own for about 30min. Some of our favourite exhibits included the submarine/scuba diving “simulator” which was a large screen controlled with a gear stick to give you the feeling you were scuba diving through the ocean. My son thought it was like steering a submarine and this was definitely his favourite feature! There was also a display with lots of ocean artifacts that you could pick up and try to match to the correct name card. Each of the displays had interactive elements, and the kids were encouraged to touch everything and ask questions. Holding a taxidermy puffer fish was definitely a strange experience!
Once everyone had arrived, we were all seated and the eco-guide began a presentation that focused on the nearby Hastings Point ecosystem, which included an opportunity to look at marine creatures under the microscope, and get hands on with rockpool inhabitants including sea stars, sea cucumbers and sea urchins. We had our 5yo and 2yo with us, and some parts of the presentation became a bit lengthy for them, but you are able to move around the centre quietly and keep looking at the displays if you wish, so we took this opportunity to look under some of the other microscopes.
After the presentation, you can spend more time exploring the Centre’s exhibits and displays, chat with the eco-guide, or finish your visit and head off for your next adventure. I highly recommend driving just a few minutes down the road to the creek and headland to explore and put into practice what you just learned!
Our guide was extremely informative and interesting to listen to – everything you saw in the centre was part of his father’s personal collection gathered over 50 years in the local area, and the quality was exceptional. He was great with the kids, getting down to their level to show them things and speaking to them in a way that captured their attention. You were encouraged to touch, hold and ask questions – three things kids want to do! This is a great low cost, half day activity that I highly recommend for anyone with an interest in our local coastline, beaches, rockpools and marine life.
Need to know
Location: 1 Tweed Coast Rd Hastings Point NSW 2489 (within the North Star Holiday Resort Complex)
Facilities: on site parking at Resort reception, toilets, pram accessible, cafe on site
Cost: Adult $13, Child $9