South Australian Museum

Stuffed animals, fossils and minerals in glass cases – this museum is itself a step back in time – but  encourage the kids to look inside the cases and discover some of the intriguing artefacts and the  stories that go with them. Stand inside Sir Douglas Mawson’s recreated hut from Antarctica and  discover the human behind the legend of this great explorer. Down at child height in the glass cases the  kids will notice a little black rag doll given to Mawson for good luck by the ballerina Anna Pavlova. In  a nearby cabinet those who have read the Swallows and Amazons series of novels by Arthur Ransome will be thrilled to recognise the name ‘Pemmican’ written on a tin. Mawson took this protein  mix of fat, dried fruit and meat on his sledding expeditions.

Contact details

North Tce, Adelaide; (08) 8207 7500

Price range


Don't Miss

■ The giant squid (actually a model) that fills a whole lift shaft! Start at the top and look down on it  from a glass floor, then work your way down each level looking at the huge head, eyes and tentacles.

■ The largest collection of Australian Indigenous cultural objects in the world.
■ The meteorites, minerals, dinosaurs and Diprotodon skull (the largest marsupial that ever lived) in  the Origin Energy Fossil Gallery.

Fabulous Facts

Douglas Mawson led an expedition to explore Antarctica in 1911. While he was sledding across the  snow and ice with two other people, Mertz and Ninnis, he heard a loud cry. Ninnis, with his sled and  dogs, had fallen into a crevasse and disappeared. There was no way to rescue them. Desolately,  Mawson and Mertz turned and struggled back towards base camp. Most of their provisions had been  on the lost sled.

Insider Tips

■ While free tours are offered by the museum, they are aimed more at adults than kids. 

■ Before you visit, you might want to go to the website and download kids’ activity trails; during  school holidays these are also available from the information desk.
■ The cafe, which overlooks the museum’s interesting display about whales, has a kids’ menu and  colouring pencils and pictures for kids.
■ If kids ask, the stuffed animals in the World Mammals Gallery nearly all died of natural causes, many coming from the original Adelaide Zoo.
■ If your kids are interested to see more Mawson artefacts and the remains of a real giant squid,  continue on to the tiny nearby Science Centre (rear of library next door, only open
10am–4pm weekdays).

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