As a Melburnian, Jules Lund has been defending Melbourne's weather for years, but a visit to the latest exhibition at Melbourne Aquarium reaffirmed for him that perhaps his home city really does enjoy a comparatively mild winter.
It cost $28 million to set up the new Antarctica Exhibit at the aquarium and it's fantastic! You can vicariously experience the life of early explorers as well as see how scientists work today in the coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth without the expense and time of actually heading to the bottom of the globe.
Penguins are the stars of the show and the aquarium is the only place in Australia you can enjoy them. Tall majestic king penguins stand proudly, and cheeky little gentoo penguins play in the pool and slide across the snow-covered ice.
Suze, the penguin keeper, told Jules the gentoos are like puppies: active and curious and interacting. The little pocket-rockets are the world's fastest swimming bird. They can clock up to 36km/h. They love to nibble her hands to attract attention while king penguins are a little more aloof.
You can walk through the massive "Nella Dan", a replica of the most famous Antarctic ice-breaker and watch the penguins from a special underwater viewing area.
Light cycles mimicking those of the sub-Antarctic make them feel at home, snow is regularly replenished and the temperature is kept at -1°C. And don't miss the daily penguin feeding, where keepers and special guides show more about the daily life of their star attractions.
Melbourne Aquarium has four exciting and entertaining worlds.
The Weird & Wonderful exhibit's animals are some of the strangest marine creatures in the world. They live in a coral garden and you can see colour-changing cuttlefish, spiky lionfish, sea dragons and everyone's favourite, clownfish looking exactly like Nemo.
The River to Reef exhibit takes you on an adventure through a wild jungle, waterfalls and caves. You'll see rainbow fish, turtles, snakes, catfish, barramundi and deadly poisonous arrow frogs. Sharks swim right next to you in the floor-to-ceiling coral atoll.
The 2.2 million-litre Oceanarium at Sharks Alive has fish bowl viewing and you really feel as though you are underwater with intimidating sharks, massive stingrays, turtles and hundreds of fish.
Anyone who's feeling brave can dive in at the deep end and experience the huge adrenaline rush of swimming face-to-face with the sharks. For those who like to remain dry, the Glass Bottom Boat Tour takes you above the surface of the water allowing you to enjoy the wonders from a different angle.
The daily dive feeds are a must-see highlight, as expert divers take the plunge into the tank to feed the hungry marine predators.