Discover Australia’s fascinating maritime history and one of the world’s largest collections of floating museum vessels.
Australia, the world’s largest island continent, has an incredibly rich maritime history. From what may be the world’s earliest boats crafted by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people thousands of years ago to the iron battleships of the modern era, Australia’s past, present and future are mired in the marine.
A visit to the Australian National Maritime Museum is a great way to see examples of those vessels and learn about our country’s fascinating history on the water. It’s one of the best things to do in Sydney for boaties, history buffs and kids.
Welcome to the Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour
The Australian National Maritime Museum is in a prime waterfront spot on King Street Wharf just a few minutes walk from the Darling Harbour Ferris Wheel. It houses the country’s leading collection of maritime artefacts, exhibitions, research and learning resources.
The museum’s impressive collection of floating historical vessels is the favourite of most visitors and one of the largest collections of its type in the world. Visitors to the museum can board and explore the vessels to find out what life was like on them all those years ago. If you’re looking for things to do with kids here in Darling Harbour, boarding a real, working submarine should be top of your list!
Exhibitions and permanent galleries are another highlight. These include explorations of indigenous Australian’s relationship with the ocean through historical artefacts, fascinating exhibitions and activities for kids. For those who want to take their learning to the next level, the Australian National Maritime Museum also offers workshops run by qualified and experienced teacher guides. These sessions are imaginative and hands-on, suitable for all students from university to primary school level.
And the best thing? After a visit to the museum, you’ll find yourself in the middle of the best entertainment, restaurants and bars that Sydney has to offer thanks to its location in the heart of Darling Harbour.
Tour real historical vessels at the National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour
Ever boarded a real gun ship? How about a cold war-era submarine, or a replica of James Cook’s famous HMB Endeavour? Take a trip to the Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour and you can do all of the above and more.
Kids (and big kids) will love boarding the Destroyer: HMAS Vampire, Australia’s largest museum vessel and one of the country’s last giant gun ships. This monstrosity of steel weaponry served in the navy from 1959 to 1986 and has dozens of high powered weapons on board. When you board, you may bump into retired navy personnel who are there to give tours and answer questions.
If you’re wondering what to do in Sydney, there are several more boats to tour. That includes:
- A cold-war era submarine called HMAS Onslow that was used to track the movements of Soviet submarines.
- A replica of James Cook’s famous ship, the HMB Endeavour.
- Duyfken or ‘Little Dove’, a replica of the first foreign ship to reach Australian shores in 1606.
- SY Ena, a luxury steam yacht built in 1900.
These boats give visitors a chance to see, touch and experience history, gaining a rare insight into life at sea in days gone by.
Events at the National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour
If you’re wondering what’s on in Sydney this weekend, don’t make plans without checking the events calendar at the National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour. The museum hosts a number of fun events including sensory experiences for kids, special tours for babies and carers, drinks and painting by the water, high teas on steam ships and much more.
Getting to the Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour
There are so many things to do and see at Darling Harbour’s National Maritime Museum that you’ll go back again and again. Luckily, getting there is easy whether you’re walking, driving or taking public transport:
- Walking: the museum is a quick 12 minute walk across the iconic Pyrmont Bridge from Sydney CBD.
- Driving: there are countless parks nearby the museum including a Wilson Parking building next to the Novotel just a six minute walk away.
- Public transport: The Pyrmont Bay light rail station is a minute from the museum, while the Town Hall Railway station is 10 minutes walk away.
Intrigued and want to see more? Buy tickets online here to see one of Sydney and Darling Harbour’s most fascinating attractions today.
What's on at Australian National Maritime Museum