Be it surfers on the beaches, the discovery of Australia via the sea route from Europe or the subsequent commerce and immigration—Australia is closely tied to water. The Australian National Maritime Museum acts accordingly in featuring rich exhibitions ranging from the time of the Eora First People to the First Fleet all the way to the present. Visitors learn how convicts traveled in dark and damp accommodations and how passengers sailing to a new life survived long ocean journeys through reconstructed stories made up of artifacts and mementos left behind.
Those interested in military history can make their way to the Navy exhibit, which explores naval traditions during war and peace times. Here, visitors get the chance to test a submarine’s periscope and try out a soldier’s cramped bunk bed. The museum even has its own fleet, with many of the vessels accessible via guided tour. Anchored in the harbor are a warship, the destroyer HMAS Vampire, a submarine and an exact replica of the HMB Endeavour, the ship with which James Cook reached Australia in 1770, among others. The submarine was decommissioned only in 1999 and is still in close to operational condition. Its diving alarm often gives visitors quite a fright.
The Australian National Maritime Museum is located in the center of Sydney on Darling Harbour and can be reached easily by bus number 443 from Circular Quay. From there ferries depart to Pyrmont Bay Wharf every half an hour as well. The museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. but is closed on Christmas Day.