Having lived my entire life in Sydney, I pride myself on having been to many of the major attractions. The Australian National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour has to be one of the very few I hadn’t attended. I can’t for the life of me figure out how in thirteen years of schooling, we never had an excursion here (particularly given it opened the year I started school). Full disclosure, we only saw a limited part of the museum because kids’ attention spans suck.
We were very lucky to be gifted a pass for the whole family so we trotted on down on a Tuesday morning to check it out. Not having been before, and not thinking to check the website we worked out quickly upon arrival that little ones under 90cm cant go on the vessel exhibits. It meant that we took turns taking J onboard to look at the exhibits, which actually worked in my favour as ageing has meant a steady worsening of motion sickness.
My first attempt at exploring the vessels was aboard the submarine, HMAS Onslow. We made it across the gangplank and the deck to the hatch but no further. Turns out three year olds object to crawling backwards down holes, so will save that for our next visit.
We jumped across to the patrol boat, HMAS Advance. We were guided around by Roger who gave us a complete run down of the ships’ role in controlling illegal fishing, smuggling, immigration, as well as search and rescue. J enjoyed clambering up and down ladders and being able to ‘drive’ at the ships wheel. In typical three-year-old fashion though, his highlight was the rolling access plank from the jetty to the deck of the boat.
Following disembarking Advance, we wandered around to have a look at HMB Endeavour. This was definitely what I was most interested in, from a historical point of view but also because the last season of Outlander was filmed largely on similar vessels (don’t judge me). J again balked at going below deck so I was left to enjoy the sunshine with both kids, watching the rolling boats nearby. Forty five minutes later, cue a tantrum (mine) and it was my turn, leaving the kids on land to go and check out the new under fives play area.
Endeavour is a full size replica of Cooks vessel and is amazing to walk through. The boat is staged to give a glimpse of life aboard and it doesn’t disappoint. Iphone photography was very limited as no flashes could be used, and wouldn’t do justice. To be able to see how the various ranks of seamen lived, gave a much more vivid picture of the hardships faced than I had been aware of. As with the other floating vessels, there are volunteers aboard who are full of interesting facts and trivia and love to have a bit of a chat.
We had to abort the visit at this point as the attention span was non existent after 2.5hrs but I snuck back under the guise of validating parking to have a quick wander through the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. There are some brilliant, thought provoking images in there and its absolutely worth the additional cost.
We’ll definitely be back to check out the permanent exhibits which can be accessed on a FREE Galleries Ticket.
- Public transport or park in Harbourside Carpark ($15 with validation)
- Leave the baby at home if you’re planning to visit the vessels
- Closed toe, flat shoes if going onto vessels
- Check the website for current attractions, Endeavour is away from September
- Enjoy an ice block in the sun from Yots while watching the big boats and city skyline