Warrnambool Aquarium on the breakwater first opened in 1971 and operated as a public attraction until 1998. It is believed to have been opened by then Liberal Government Minister Ian Sinclair.
The sandstone walls are believed to have come from the old abattoirs which included being carted there by hand. The walls were built by Norm Sanders and Ken Farral, the Domes was constructed by Digger Parker concrete, and other work done by Fotheringhams.
The aquarium used no filtration system at all, but rather twice a day the tanks were drained of most of their water and then filled again by pump, straight from the bay. This system meant that only local species were able to be maintained at the Aquarium for display.
Amongst the species captured, kept, bred, and displayed at the aquarium were Blue-Ringed Octopus from Stingray Bay.
Towards the end of the its operating life it was leased on a month-to-month basis by the Warrnambool Council. It was then leased to Deakin University for $1 per year but the cost for Deakin to make it safe and useable was too expensive. After Deakin using it was no longer an option the council supposedly filled in the areas with sand as a safety precaution against the domes and roof falling in along with issues associated with the electrical network. .