WRL Open Day

16 September 2023 - 9:00am to 1:00pm
110 King St, Manly Vale

Ever wanted to know why rips form in the surf? 

Or what happens to all the sand on the beach in a storm?

What amount of water does it take for a car to float?

How are dams, harbours and breakwalls designed?

And how, exactly, do these things get tested anyway?…

Based on Sydney’s Northern Beaches at Manly Vale, the UNSW Water Research Laboratory (WRL) is one of the biggest scientific and engineering facilities in Australia, tucked away below Manly Dam.

Our talented researchers solve all kinds of problems related to water and the environment. Our “laboratory” doesn’t have test tubes and lab coats; instead we build models of dams and harbours larger than your living room!

Come tour our massive labs, meet the experts, and see engineering and science at work.

All are welcome! 

---Please wear closed shoes while visiting---

Tour mapFrequently asked questions 


The closest parking is along King Street, before entering the main gates to WRL.

Wheelchair access 

Wheelchair access is available to some of our laboratories, however there are several sections where there is limited or no access. Our staff will be able to assist and direct you, should you require assistance in locating which areas are wheelchair safe, and those that are not. 


Please ensure you are wearing closed in shoes while visiting our lab.


We will have toilets available for our visitor’s comfort on the day. These will be shown on your tour map that you will be provided with on arrival. If in doubt, please ask one of our staff who will be able to assist you.

Download a Open Day flyer

Stairs, uneven surfaces and hazards

Our laboratory has many stairs and as a working scientific research facility, there may be uneven surfaces, water grates, standing water, and other potentially dangerous trip hazards. We kindly request that you follow all advice provided by our staff, and closely supervise your children at all times. Please take care to follow the arrows that will direct you safely throughout our site.

Snakes and wildlife

We are privileged in our proximity to Manly Dam to share our surroundings with snakes, spiders, ticks, water dragons and other various wildlife. Please be aware of this and take care while visiting.

Models and water tanks

Our laboratory has many water tanks, models and large basins of water that could present a height risk or drowning hazard if climbed on, or children are left unsupervised. Please take extra care to follow the directions of the lab tour and listen to the advice provided by our staff.

Injuries and first aid

First aid kits are stored in each building around our site. We have several qualified first aid responders at WRL who can assist if required. Please report all injuries to the Reception office, located in the main Administration building, phone number: 8071 9800.


If there is an emergeny requiring evacuation, we have building sirens and  Zone Wardens to alert everyone on site. In an emergency situation, please follow the Zone Wardens instructions and proceed to the assembly point (the overflow staff carpark, located towards the main gates at King Street).

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