Monday 25 September 2017 by FIIG Research At FIIG

Finding Nemo … and Dory (Cairns Aquarium)

Hammerheads, big fish and endangered animals – we are delighted to announce the opening of the new CAIRNS Aquarium


We are delighted to announce the opening of the new Cairns Aquarium last week. 

Co-founders Daniel Leipnik and Andrew Preston saw the opportunity to bring the Great Barrier Reef to Cairns’ visitors after observing how few tourists actually took to the water and were missing the delights of the fascinating and colourful marine life. The opening marked almost six years since the co-founders embarked on the project to bring the Aquarium to Cairns.

With over four million visitors a year to Australia’s tropical north, the multi-million dollar tourism infrastructure is set to become Cairns’ largest and newest attraction, providing a world class venue for seeing and interacting with incredible wildlife unique to Australia’s wet tropics. 

The highly anticipated Cairns Aquarium was debt funded by Gieldan Capital, a joint venture between FIIG Securities and MH Carnegie & Co., providing the debt structuring expertise and arranging the finance to bring the complex project to life. After being unable to arrange bank financing, the aquarium developers turned to Gieldan to secure $32m of funding from its investor base of family offices and high net worth investors. 

The completion marks an important milestone for the project, which has delivered a high return for investors of over 19% internal rate of return. 

Neil Sutton, Gieldan Capital’s Managing Director commented, “We are delighted to have been instrumental in bringing together a visionary project, which will deliver new jobs, regional stimulus and a trophy tourism asset to Far North Queensland. Tourism in the region is experiencing unprecedented growth and this new asset will be a great beneficiary and will drive more interest in the region. The very real environmental stresses currently being experienced by the Great Barrier Reef means the Aquarium’s additional roles in education, research, endangered species breeding and rehabilitation will benefit the broader community for years to come. Our investors are thrilled, not only to have benefited from terrific returns, but to feel the satisfaction of being part of bringing this great project to life.”

The project has created over 150 jobs during construction and will provide over 100 staff positions on an ongoing basis. Once open, it is expected to generate almost $20m in revenues and 700,000 visitors per year.

The Cairns Aquarium features exhibits that include a multi-million litre “Great Barrier Reef” tank, a giant freshwater “River monsters” exhibit, a “Life in the mangroves” lagoon exhibit, a “Dangers of the deep” exhibit, a “Daintree rainforest” boardwalk and 70 other live exhibits housing some 15,000 fish and aquatic animals. The Aquarium’s new restaurant also features a 13.5 metre, 70,000 litre tank featuring black tipped reef sharks and other colourful species. 

The aquarium will also double as an interactive research and education centre that will convey world leading reef research focused on key North Australian fish and crustaceans. It will be dedicated to promoting environmental awareness and unique initiatives in areas such as seafood sustainability and conservation. 

Gieldan Capital has arranged more than $175 million since 2015. 

To register your interest in future investment opportunities or to find out about raising funds through Gieldan, please call 1800 01 01 81