Australian National Maritime Museum
In the submarine exhibit kids will enjoy trying out the bunks, peering through a periscope and playing the sonar operator game, but even better is going out on the wharf and climbing down a ladder into an actual navy submarine, the HMAS Onslow. Eyes will widen as they try to picture how sailors managed to live and move around in these cramped conditions. You can also board a replica of Captain James Cook’s ship, Endeavour; tread the decks of a restored 19th-century tall ship, the James Craig; or take part in Action Stations on the destroyer HMAS Vampire.
2 Murray St, Darling Harbour; (02) 9298 3777
FREE; ENTRY TO SHIPS EXTRA COST
■ Mini Mariners – a special experience suitable for children aged 2–5 years. Be there at 10am or 11am any Tuesday in term time for an interactive gallery tour with a costumed guide, craft activities, stories and dress-ups. Bookings are essential: (02) 9298 3655.
HMAS Vampire is one of the largest destroyers ever built in Australia and the last of Australia’s big gun ships (Australia’s fighting ships are now equipped with rocket weaponry). Have a look at the anti-aircraft guns and the three twin turrets housing 4.5-inch guns. There used to be torpedo launchers and anti-submarine mortars as well. The Vampire served in the Royal Australian Navy from 1959 to 1986. When Australian troops were sent to fight in Vietnam in the 1960s, the Vampire escorted them, but never took part in a battle.
■ Entry to the museum’s core exhibitions is free, but it is definitely worth paying for tickets to board at least one of the vessels out on the wharf. Remember to wear sensible closed shoes for clambering up and down ladders on the vessels.
- Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney, In city
- Back to nature, Australian National Maritime Museum, Back to nature