Manly Cove West – (former Sea Life)


Project overview

Transport is progressing plans to enhance the Manly West Esplanade precinct, creating a place which respects the local cultural heritage and reconnects the Manly Pavilion and heritage buildings with the beach by removing the former Sea Life aquarium.

The proposal will improve public waterfront access and the quality and functionality of the West Esplanade, provide more space back to the community and be the first step in meeting our commitment to revitalise the site.

Manly Cove Sea Life building

What’s happening now

The former Manly Sea Life building is dilapidated and currently poses an ongoing safety risk as a result of continued unauthorised access. 

In response to these safety risks and the visual impact on neighbouring businesses, the NSW Government asked Transport to prioritise the removal the building as soon as possible. 

Transport will demolish the building to promenade level only, retaining the circular footprint for future public use.

For more information view our community notification (PDF, 327.69 KB)

Let us know your thoughts

We are exploring several options for the sites final use. All options will consider the areas importance to the local community and Aboriginal heritage and include for example public art, educational installations or landscaping, which respects and celebrates the culture and history of the area.  

Please let us know how you would like to see this space used in the future by completing our survey by 31 May 2024.

We will publicly display the final use of the site and urban design opportunities for community consideration and feedback. 

We thank the community for their patience during this work and look forward to the community’s ongoing involvement.


Next steps

In the coming weeks we will be doing some site preparation work to remove the water in the Sea Life tanks. A small work area will be set up next to the building for this work.
We are now finalising our plans for the demolition and will start removing the building in the coming weeks. 

We will keep the community updated as the project progresses and let you know before we start work. 

Following demolition, the space will be opened for community use while planning for the site’s revitalisation is completed. 

We are currently exploring temporary community activation opportunities to allow you to enjoy the space during this time.

Project information

Community notifications


Transport for NSW is the owner of the former aquarium Manly Sea Life and the Manly Pavilion.

In January 2022, Transport consulted with the community on the proposal to demolish the former Sea Life building and build a new boardwalk. 

We heard general support from the community for the demolition of the building. We thank you for your feedback and support for the proposal.

In response to ongoing safety risks and the visual impact on neighbouring businesses, the NSW Government asked Transport to prioritise the removal the building as soon as possible. Demolition of the building will now be undertaken in early 2024.

What is the history of Manly Sea Life?

The aquarium was purpose built in the 1960s, and housed marine life until it was closed in 2018.

Manly Sea Life Sanctuary was a public aquarium, which featured sharks, giant stingrays, sea turtles, little penguins and other marine life. It also allowed guests to take part in Shark Dive Xtreme, where they could swim with grey nurse sharks over three metres long.

Since the aquarium was closed in 2018, it has remained vacant and is not fit for reuse. The building is dilapidated, housing custom-built tanks and enclosures which are not easily adapted to a new use. The building also blocks sight lines to the heritage buildings behind.


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 Project documents

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Contact us

For further information about this project, please contact:

Phone: 1800 684 490 (during business hours)