Australian National Maritime Museum

Located at Darling Harbour, the Australian National Maritime Museum is operated by the federal government and shines a spotlight on the country’s maritime history. Areas of focus include early travels to Australia, relationships between the Aborigines and the sea as well as the discovery of Australia, just to name a few.

Historical facts about Australian National Maritime Museum

  • Plans to build a museum showcasing Australia’s maritime history were initially announced in 1985 by the federal government
  • The decision was made to situate the museum at Darling Harbour and to construct it as part of the Darling Harbour and Pyrmont redevelopment project
  • The building that housed the museum was designed by Phillip Cox, Richardson Taylor & Partners
  • Although the opening of the museum was slated for 1988, it was extended due to construction delays. The museum was finally opened on 30th November, 1991
  • The museum was officially handed over to the federal government in October 1990
  • For the first ten years after it was opened, the museum had an estimated total of 3.3 million visitors
  • It was named as one of the ‘World’s 10 Coolest Museums’ by The Sunday Times (London)

Operating hours and admission information

The museum opens to the public at 9.30am and closes at 5.00pm. The closing time extends to 6.00pm during January. This popular tourist destination is open throughout the year except on Christmas Day. The last time to board the vessels (submarine and tall ships) is at 4.10pm daily. For admission into the museum, adults are required to pay $27, children between 4-15 years $16, concessions $16 and children under 4 years go in free of charge. Families of up to 3 children of 4-15 years and 2 parents are charged $70. All prices are inclusive of GST.

How to get to Australian National Maritime Museum

Australian National Maritime Museum is located at 2 Murray St, Sydney at Darling Harbour (Pyrmont Side). For those coming by train, the museum is located in close proximity to Town Hall and Central train stations. You can walk through Chinatown onto Darling Harbour if you alight at Central Train Station or walk over to Pyrmont Bridge if you are coming from Town Hall Train Station. There are a number of bus routes one can take or you can catch a ferry that services various stops that are less than 10 minutes walk to the museum.

The Australian National Maritime Museum is also in close proximity to several bike lanes that crisscross College, Park, Kent, and King streets. There’s also a light rail that stops at Pyrmont Bay, which is located directly opposite the museum. Visitors arriving by private means have the luxury of ample parking space. Parking is also available at Harbourside Shopping Centre and Star City Casino.

Top things to do at Australian Maritime Museum

In addition to permanent exhibitions, there are a number of temporary exhibitions as well as a whole lot of activities that visitors can indulge in:

  • Welcome Wall

The Welcome Wall serves as a symbol of honour to those who migrated to Australia. The names of these people are inscribed on the wall in bronze permanently. Today, Australians are invited to have the names of migrants they know inscribed on the wall. Along with the name, they can also describe their migration story in 50 words. The wall is accessible all year round and visitors can take a stroll as they read the stories of different migrants.

  • Navigation

This exhibition was known as Discovery of Australia. True to that name, the gallery focuses on the exploration, discoveries and charting of Australia’s coast by the French, Dutch and British. It also tells the story of trade between indigenous Australians and Indonesians before discovery by Europeans. Among the highlights you will find here include the 1602 Blaeu Celestial Globe, a portion from the Captain Cook’s ship HMS Resolution and a bigger than life painting. The ceiling is also covered in stars which represent the constellations that guided ships during the early days.

  • Eora First People

This exhibition will take you through a journey from Tasmania to far North Queensland and Torres Strait to explore the connection between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and the sea. In the language of the Durags, who also happen to the original owners of the land where the museum sits, Eora means the first people. Precious works that are bound to impress include hollow log coffins decorated in the story of Mala the Shark, shell work from Tasmania and ceremonial sculptures from Cape York and Arnhem Land.

  • Destroyer: HMAS Vampire

The HMAS Vampire has earned a reputation as being not only the museum’s largest vessel, but also Australia’s last gunship. The ship was part of a Daring class destroyers, which were among the biggest ones ever built in Australia. HMAS Vampire served Australia’s navy from 1959 to 1986. To find out more about the rich history of this gun ship, simply climb onboard.

Thinking of the ultimate family’s day out in Sydney? Be sure to spend the day at the Australian National Maritime Museum!


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