The Land Down Under certainly has an interesting story.
It was home to some of the world’s oldest indigenous tribes and cultures before it was colonized by the British. Despite the country’s expansive and sometimes harsh terrain, impressive settlements were built by the rough-and-tumble convicts sent over from Britain, resulting in one of the world’s most unique landscapes.
With such an eventful history, it should be no surprise that Australia, particularly Sydney, has no lack of fascinating museums. Each one is unique. Each one deals with a certain aspect of the country’s storied past, and this makes it somewhat challenging to pick which one to visit first.
Check out the list below and decide for yourself:
1. Australian Museum
True to its name, the Australian Museum is perhaps the most comprehensive repository for all sorts of artifacts that have to do with the country’s natural and cultural history.
Here, you will find loads of stuffed animals, though they’re not the sort you’d want to cuddle with in bed….unless you’re into creepy crawlies that can kill you.
It’s not all about lethal animals and insects here, however. Their displays also feature relics like Aboriginal kids’ toys and a tattooed chalk head from the Solomon Islands. The Indigenous Australia section is also quite educational for those interested in Aboriginal culture, beliefs, and issues.
Address: 1 William St., Sydney NSW 2010
Contact No.: +61 2 9320 6000
2. Hyde Park Barracks Museum
If you’re into places that could send shivers up your spine, this austere 19th century Georgian structure is right up your alley.
Built in 1819 to house convicts, this institution has also served as an immigration depot, a women’s asylum for the impoverished, and a courthouse. And thanks to the rats who scurried away prisoners’ belongings to build their nests with, about 100,000 everyday items from that period have been recovered. Buttons, shirts, aprons- name it.
Visitors can also get a feel of a typical convict’s life by trying on some leg irons (!), reclining in a prisoner’s hammock, and learning about their daily schedules.
Address: Queens Square, Macquarie St., Sydney NSW 2000
3. Sydney Jewish Museum
Sadly, whenever we talk about history, the Holocaust is usually the first thing that pops up in one’s mind.
That infamous genocide makes an appearance here, of course, and their displays on the subject certainly inspire grief, but there’s a lot more to this institution than making people feel sorry for the Jews.
Rather, the museum was designed as one big anti-bullying exhibit. The migration of Australia’s Jewish population is documented, as well as some of their key beliefs and practices, inviting visitors to seek to understand those who might be different from them rather than fear or persecute them.
Address: 148 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Contact No.: +61 2 9360 7999
4. Australian National Maritime Museum
Oz depends heavily on its surrounding oceans and seas for sustenance, transportation, commerce, defence, and even for recreation. Hence, it’s no surprise that the Aussies would have a museum celebrating their maritime history.
From exhibitions divulging how convicts shipped off to Australia became the country’s first non-indigenous inhabitants to displays featuring how the national navy operates on land and sea, any aspiring sailor or simply anyone who loves the ocean is sure to find something of interest here.
Address: 2 Murray St., Sydney NSW 2000
Contact No.: +61 2 9298 3777
5. Powerhouse Museum
This museum takes its name from the old power station that houses it. The highly-interactive Powerhouse Museum is especially popular among kids and kids at heart, and it’s been educating visitors on how technology has changed the world for years.
The world’s oldest three-story-high working steam engine is on display here, as is a “shocking” demonstration on how lightning strikes and other educational exhibits on how magnets attract other metals or how machine engines run.
Address: 500 Harris St., Ultimo NSW 2007
Contact No.: +61 2 9217 0111
Sure, Australia’s pretty well-known for its breathtaking biodiversity and for its vast, well-preserved parklands, and you should try to take in all of those, by all means. Just don’t forget to check out how the early settlers and modern inhabitants have helped shape this country-continent into what it is today.
All it takes is stepping inside any of the establishments mentioned here.