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Published May 18th 2012
If you live in Sydney, you have no doubt heard of and perhaps even visited The Australian Museum, Powerhouse Museum and Maritime Museum. But did you know there are other great museums and historic sites, not only in Sydney, but other parts of NSW which are educational, interactive and a lot of fun for kids of all ages?
So if you are thinking of doing something different with your kids this weekend or during your next holidays, add the following to your shortlist. And even if you have visited one of these places before, don't be afraid to go back… not only do museums update their exhibits regularly, but as your children get older, they will be drawn to new things and activities.
1. The Rocks Discovery Museum – Sydney
Address; Kendall Lane, The Rocks
The Rocks Discovery Museum is a free, family friendly museum which tells the story of The Rocks area of Sydney from pre-European days to the present. The Museum is home to a unique collection of images and archaeological artefacts found in The Rocks. Interactive exhibits use touch screens, audio and visual elements to bring the history of the area alive.
2. Hyde Park Barracks – Sydney Address: Macquarie Street, Sydney
The Hyde Park Barracks was built in 1819 to house, clothe and feed convict men and boys. Later it became a female immigration depot and a government asylum for infirm, destitute women, an orphanage and a courthouse. Today the Hyde Park Barracks is a museum about itself and allows its visitors to experience what convict life was like. For more information and photos, click here.
3. Cockatoo Island – Sydney Address: Cockatoo Island, Sydney
Cockatoo Island is the largest heritage listed island in Sydney Harbour and is located at the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers. The Island is a former imperial prison, industrial school, reformatory and gaol. Kids will love exploring the Island's spooky convict prison, giant cranes and ship building machinery. Cockatoo Island is accessible by ferry from Circular Quay. For more details and pictures, click here.
Timbertown is situated just outside of Port Macquarie on mid north coast and offers its visitors a chance to experience village life as it was in the 1880s. Considered to be one of Australia's finest Heritage Parks, Timbertown gives you and the kids a chance to experience many different things including whip cracking, a bullock show, riding the miniature steam railway, feeding farm animals, milking demonstrations, cross cut sawing and forest tours on a horse drawn wagon. For more information click here.
5. Australian War Memorial – Canberra Address: Treloar Crescent, Campbell ACT 2612
Located in Campbell, approximately a 5 minute drive from Canberra CBD, the museum covers Australia's involvement in the following wars: Colonial period, 1788-1901, Sudan, March to June 1885; South African War (Boer War), 1899-1902; First World War, 1914-18; Second World War, 1939-45; Occupation of Japan, 1946-51, Korean War, 1950-53; Vietnam War, 1962-75, First Gulf War, 1990-91, Peacekeeping, 1947 to present and many others. This museum is very interactive and offers the children a chance to try on different uniforms, fly a helicopter, sleep in a submarine and so much more. Expect to spend at least half a day exploring this fantastic museum. Click here for more details.
6. National Dinosaur Museum – Canberra
Address: Gold Creek Road Nicholls ACT 2913
National Dinosaur Museum is located approximately 20 minutes north of Canberra city centre. Its growing collection currently has 23 complete skeletons and over 300 displays of fossils. The museum's exhibits show you the evolution of life from the Earth's beginning to some of the most recent animals. On display is a large variety of dinosaurs, mammals, reptiles, fish, plants, invertebrates, birds, amphibians, and more. The museum also offers sleepovers which take you on a trip back to the Jurassic period. For more information, click here.
7. Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum – Bathurst
Address: Howick Street, Bathurst
Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum, is home to the spectacular, Somerville Collection, which includes crystals from over 100 Australian mine sites, 2000 million year old garnets from around the world, as well as diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds and other gems. One of the main features of the museum is a complete T-rex skeleton – the only one in Australia. Other interesting pieces include fossils in amber, fossil dinosaur eggs, and a large collection of Australia's unique opalised fossils. For more details click here.
8. Lady Denman Maritime Museum – Jervis Bay
Address: Woollamia Road, Huskisson
Lady Denman Maritime Museum was inspired by the Lady Denman ferry, built in Huskisson in 1911, which is now housed in a purpose-built facility within the complex. The museum features a Surveyor's Gallery with its world-standard collection of surveying instruments, the Jervis Bay Gallery of Science and the Sea which contains many diverse treasures, and the Local History Gallery that allows visitors to explore local history, much of it on maritime themes.
9. National Motor Racing Museum – Bathurst
Address: Mount Panorama, Bathurst
The National Motor Racing Museum is located at the entrance to the internationally renowned motor racing circuit, Mount Panorama. The museum offers an ever-changing selection of racing cars and motor bikes as well as an incredible display of photographs, paintings, trophies, helmets and other memorabilia. When you enter, you can enjoy a video of history of racing and great footage of past races. And for a bit of fun, take the kids and drive on the racing circuit, which is approximately 6km in length. For more photos and information, click here.
10. Old Mogo Town Gold Rush Theme Park
Address: Cnr Annett Lane & James Street Mogo 2536
Old Mogo Town is an 1850s inspired Gold Rush historical village and theme park near Batemans Bay and is surrounded by the Mogo State Forest. Experience the living conditions of miners and early settlers and try your hand at panning for gold, explore the mine tunnel, visit the digger's camp, check out antique machinery and watch working crafts people. For more photos and information, click here.