Where can you take the kids to meet Nemo, see a Port Jackson shark, AND discover starfish, shipwrecks, and spectacular shells? Visit the Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre and you’ll find a treasure trove of sensational sea life! It’s a volunteer-run cottage in Terrigal,  jam-packed with fascinating ocean artefacts and some amazing animals, too.

All about the Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre

The stars of the show are the marine animals cruising around their tanks. The centre has five displays with live species to admire, including local fish, a huge hermit crab, tiny shrimp and a bevy of super-cute clownfish. There’s an open rockpool tank, where kids can lean in and watch a multitude of local sea creatures go about their day. Can you spot the shrimp scooting over the rocks, uncover a shy anemone or find a slow-moving sea hare? If you’re lucky, you might even get to see the animals being fed their lunch!

If your kids prefer their sea creatures big and bitey, they’ll love the displays showcasing the centre’s marine animal collection. From huge whale jawbones to shark teeth and life-size models— there’s so many treasures from the deep to admire. For the history buffs, the Centre has a vintage diving suit on display, and information about the many shipwrecks hiding along our coastline.

For hands-on activities, kids can use the Centre’s microscope to examine sand, shells and shark teeth, or enjoy some ocean-themed activities in the arts and crafts area. They can also test their observation skills with a fun treasure hunt to find hidden pictures located around the tanks and displays.  And if you’re in need of a little quiet time you can watch a cartoon about Gavin, the leafy sea dragon, and his migration up Spencer Gulf.

The Marine Discovery Centre is community-run, and the staff are volunteers. They are a wealth of knowledge and will take the time to answer all the questions your mini marine biologists can come up with! The majority of the items on display have been collected from Central Coast beaches, which can help kids gain an appreciation for the natural wonders of their local area.

And, when you’ve all finished learning and exploring, head next door to Park Life Coffee, a cafe that sells single-origin coffee, healthy kids meals and hearty bowls of goodness such as brown rice, charred cauliflower and green pesto. The centre and cafe also adjoin the Terrigal Rotary Park, where kids can explore the playground and run off all their excess energy.

Did you know they do venue hire and kids’ parties too?

Parents of sea life enthusiasts will be delighted to know that you can hire the Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre for your child’s birthday party. You’ll pay a flat fee of $50 for 3 hours, plus $13 per child (the first 4 adults are free) and will have access to the kitchenette, chairs and tables.

They also run school programs with curriculum-based learning for primary and secondary students. Programs are hosted by CCMDC teachers. For further details, visit the Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre website.

The Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre

Open: 7 Days, 9:30am – 3:30pm (last admission 3pm). Closed on public holidays.
Cost: $16 adult; $12 child; Family of 2 children and 2 adults $44; Family of 2 children and 1 adult $28; 1 Adult & 3 Children $40; Concession (Senior +60/Pensioner/Carer) $12; Carer with Carers Card Free, Children under 2 years old Free. $7 to paint a plaster mould. The Centre accepts Dine and Discover and Parents vouchers. 

Tips: The Centre has air-con, so it’s a great place to head when you need to escape the chill of winter and the heat of summer.
Parking: There is a parking strip right out the front.
Website: www.ccmdc.org.au

Phone: 4385 5027

Location: 11 Terrigal Drive, Terrigal (in the Rotary Park next to Terrigal Lagoon).

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Alison is a busy local mum who enjoys exploring the Coast’s spectacular natural spaces. You’ll often find her out on a bush trail with her husband and three kids. With a background in media production, communication and marketing, she loves sharing stories about the wonderful region we get to call home. Follow her on Instagram @CentralCoastNatureKids.