Australian National Maritime Museum
Sydney (and in fact Australia) exists as it is today purely because of its harbour. The city’s history and the harbour are permanently intertwined, as you’ll discover at the truly excellent Australian National Maritime Museum.
This unique indoor/outdoor museum explores the inextricable link Australians have with the sea, from the First Nations people through the present day. A family-friendly museum, it boasts some seriously impressive interactive exhibits in the form of full-sized replica and restored original vessels, docked right alongside the museum in their private Darling Harbour wharves.
The themed galleries explore the fascinating relationship between humans and the ocean, from exploration and trade through to war and immigration.
As soon as you step inside the museum, you’ll be greeted by the sight of the Spirit of Australia, now a permanent fixture of the museum’s foyer. The Spirit broke the water speed record all the way back in 1978 and remains to this day, the world’s fastest boat.
Beneath a cavernous roof are superbly laid out exhibits covering everything from indigenous canoes to Colonial maritime exploration and WWII underwater warfare, through to more contemporary exhibits on the latest maritime technology and innovations, the evolution of yacht racing and surf culture, immigration, ocean conservation and the modern Australian Navy.
The museum is custodian to a fleet of historic craft stationed along its wharves. Visitors can climb aboard the HMAS Vampire, a Naval Destroyer, get a taste of life in a submarine inside the HMAS Onslow, marvel at the Endeavour, a reconstruction of James Cook’s legendary voyager, and even organise a harbour cruise on the restored 19th century tall ship James Craig.