Subscribe      List an Event or Business      Invite a Writer      Write for WN      Writers      Other Locations
list an event      1 million Australian readers every month      facebook

Top 12 Maritime Museums in Melbourne and Victoria

Home > Melbourne > Day Trips | Escape the City | Family | Fun Things To Do | Museums | Lists
by Gayle Beveridge (subscribe)
Gayle Beveridge is a past winner of the Boroondara Literary Awards and her work has appeared in Award Winning Australian Writing. Gayle is passionate about family, writing, photography, and with Victoria’s beautiful Bass Coast which she now calls home.
Published August 3rd 2021
You Don't Need Your Sea Legs for These Journeys

You don't have to have your sea legs to take these journeys into Victoria's maritime past. You're going to love these places and take the kids with you, there is so much on offer for them. Families will particularly like the Seaworks Maritime Precinct in Williamston or the Flagstaff Maritime Museum and Interactive Village in Warrnambool and how special is it to take the kids on board a ship like the 1885 Polly Woodside at South Wharf or the WWII ship HMAS Castlemaine at Gem Pier in Williamstown. These are the jewels in the crown of Victoria's twelve dedicated maritime museums. If you haven't been to any of these you don't know what you're missing.

maritime museum,maritime museum Victoria,maritime museum Melbourne,museum melbourne,day trips from Melbourne,weekend getaways Victoria,ships to visit melbourne,maritime village,maritime history australia,shipwrecks museum,Polly woodside,HMSA Castlemaine,Seaworks,Flagstaff Hill, Things to do in Port Welshpool,Things to do in Portland,Things to do in Geelong,things to do in Port Albert,things to do in Paynesville,things to do in Queenscliff,
Port Welshpool Maritime Museum - Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge.

Greater Melbourne

1. Seaworks Maritime Precinct, Museum and Discovery Centre is in Nelson Street in Williamstown and the Discovery Centre is only part of the area billed as Melbourne's Maritime Events and Entertainment Precinct, where visiting tall ships still dock. The Discovery Centre showcases the maritime history of Port Melbourne and has a large collection of artefacts, models and bells and regularly hosts events. For contact details, opening times, costing and location, go to the Seaworks page on the Experience Hobson Bay website. For current and upcoming events visit the website or check out their Facebook page.

maritime museum,maritime museum Victoria,maritime museum Melbourne,museum melbourne,day trips from Melbourne,weekend getaways Victoria,ships to visit melbourne,maritime village,maritime history australia,shipwrecks museum,Polly woodside,HMSA Castlemaine,Seaworks,Flagstaff Hill, Things to do in Port Welshpool,Things to do in Portland,Things to do in Geelong,things to do in Port Albert,things to do in Paynesville,things to do in Queenscliff,
Seaworks Maritime Museum - Image from Seaworks Facebook page

2. Polly Woodside Maritime Museum is aboard a three-masted cargo vessel built in Belfast in 1885 and docked at South Wharf in Melbourne. The ship is decked out as it would have been in its heyday. There is a history gallery with interactive exhibits at the wharf where there are also picnic facilities. Guided tours are available and special events are often hosted. The Polly Woodside opening hours are seasonal and it is sometimes closed to the general public. Check the website for details.


maritime museum,maritime museum Victoria,maritime museum Melbourne,museum melbourne,day trips from Melbourne,weekend getaways Victoria,ships to visit melbourne,maritime village,maritime history australia,shipwrecks museum,Polly woodside,HMSA Castlemaine,Seaworks,Flagstaff Hill, Things to do in Port Welshpool,Things to do in Portland,Things to do in Geelong,things to do in Port Albert,things to do in Paynesville,things to do in Queenscliff,
The Polly Woodside - Image by Koichi Oda, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

3. Victorian Maritime Centre – Otama Lookout is a community museum at Crib Point. It includes HMAS Otama Submarine, Ex Oberon Class, Ex Port Phillip Pilot vessel MV Wyuna and a collection of artefacts and memorabilia from the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Merchant Navy. It is normally open Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 3pm or group bookings can be arranged on other days. For more details check the About section on their Facebook page

maritime museum,maritime museum Victoria,maritime museum Melbourne,museum melbourne,day trips from Melbourne,weekend getaways Victoria,ships to visit melbourne,maritime village,maritime history australia,shipwrecks museum,Polly woodside,HMSA Castlemaine,Seaworks,Flagstaff Hill, Things to do in Port Welshpool,Things to do in Portland,Things to do in Geelong,things to do in Port Albert,things to do in Paynesville,things to do in Queenscliff,
Image from the Victorian Maritime Centre Facebook Page

4. HMAS Cerebus is housed in a 1925 building on a working naval training base at Crib Point on the Mornington Peninsula. The museum displays a large collection of Navy heritage from not only the Royal Australian Navy but also the Colonial and Victoria Navies. Artefacts, memorabilia and photographs include the stories of specific battles. In normal times, the museum is open to the public Monday to Thursday and is by appointment as access to the base is restricted. Refer to their website for location and contact details to arrange an appointment.

maritime museum,maritime museum Victoria,maritime museum Melbourne,museum melbourne,day trips from Melbourne,weekend getaways Victoria,ships to visit melbourne,maritime village,maritime history australia,shipwrecks museum,Polly woodside,HMSA Castlemaine,Seaworks,Flagstaff Hill, Things to do in Port Welshpool,Things to do in Portland,Things to do in Geelong,things to do in Port Albert,things to do in Paynesville,things to do in Queenscliff,
HMAS Cerberus Modern Weapons - Image by Sheba_Also 43,000 photos, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

5. HMAS Castlemaine is a restored Bathurst Class Corvette, a WWII minesweeping ship at Gem Pier in Williamstown. Visitors can board and explore the ship, see the engines running, view the guns up close, check out the restored equipment and even ring the bells and try out the voice pipes. The ship also houses exhibitions which are changed regularly and guided tours are usually available. Check out their website which has a wealth of information about the ship, her missions and her crew along with details of visiting times and pricing,

maritime museum,maritime museum Victoria,maritime museum Melbourne,museum melbourne,day trips from Melbourne,weekend getaways Victoria,ships to visit melbourne,maritime village,maritime history australia,shipwrecks museum,Polly woodside,HMSA Castlemaine,Seaworks,Flagstaff Hill, Things to do in Port Welshpool,Things to do in Portland,Things to do in Geelong,things to do in Port Albert,things to do in Paynesville,things to do in Queenscliff,
HMAS Castlemaine - Image by User Bukvoed, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Bellarine Peninsula and Geelong

6. Queenscliff Maritime Museum was originally established to preserve and display the last lifeboat, the Queenscliffe and now houses exhibits in a number of buildings and in the surrounding grounds. In addition to the Queenscliffe and the Pilot Vessel Mavis III, there are rare artefacts and objects illustrating the Lifeboat service since the 1850s and covering the maritime history of Queenscliff, Southern Port Phillip and the Bass Strait, maritime relics and historic buildings. It is normally open 7 days a week from 11am to 4pm and tours can be arranged. Full details can be found on their website.

maritime museum,maritime museum Victoria,maritime museum Melbourne,museum melbourne,day trips from Melbourne,weekend getaways Victoria,ships to visit melbourne,maritime village,maritime history australia,shipwrecks museum,Polly woodside,HMSA Castlemaine,Seaworks,Flagstaff Hill, Things to do in Port Welshpool,Things to do in Portland,Things to do in Geelong,things to do in Port Albert,things to do in Paynesville,things to do in Queenscliff,
Image from the Queenscliffe Maritime Museum

7. Geelong Maritime Museum Is housed in a stable that was built in 1857 for Osbourne House, overlooking Corio Bay in Swinburne Street, North Geelong. Osbourne House was the site of the first Australian Naval College in 1913 and the first submarine base in 1921. The displays focus on both the history of Osbourne House and the port at Corio Bay. For more information about visiting the museum which is normally open from 10am to 4.30pm daily, go to their page on the Australian Museums and Galleries website.

maritime museum,maritime museum Victoria,maritime museum Melbourne,museum melbourne,day trips from Melbourne,weekend getaways Victoria,ships to visit melbourne,maritime village,maritime history australia,shipwrecks museum,Polly woodside,HMSA Castlemaine,Seaworks,Flagstaff Hill, Things to do in Port Welshpool,Things to do in Portland,Things to do in Geelong,things to do in Port Albert,things to do in Paynesville,things to do in Queenscliff,
Geelong Corio Bay 1853 - Image by James, D., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Gippsland

8. Port Albert Maritime Museum is housed in a former bank built in 1861 in Tarraville Road, Port Albert, one of Victoria's oldest seaports, established in 1841. The displays trace the maritime history of the region and feature the story of the Clonmel, a paddle steamer that ran aground in 1841. You will also find the restored lens of the Cape Liptrap lighthouse, a cannon, a lifeboat from the offshore mining platforms, boats, ropes, maritime tools and instruments and in the old bank vault, a Gippsland goldfields display, to mention but a few. Full details and all you need to know about visiting the museum can be found on their website.

maritime museum,maritime museum Victoria,maritime museum Melbourne,museum melbourne,day trips from Melbourne,weekend getaways Victoria,ships to visit melbourne,maritime village,maritime history australia,shipwrecks museum,Polly woodside,HMSA Castlemaine,Seaworks,Flagstaff Hill, Things to do in Port Welshpool,Things to do in Portland,Things to do in Geelong,things to do in Port Albert,things to do in Paynesville,things to do in Queenscliff,
Port Albert Maritime Museum - Photos copyright Gayle Beveridge

9. Port Welshpool Maritime Museum is housed in Port Welshpool's first residence, a fisherman's cottage built in 1881 at 12 Turnbull Street. The displays showcase the history of the district through maritime artifacts, a shell collection dating back to the 1800s and items representing the everyday life of the founding families of the area.

maritime museum,maritime museum Victoria,maritime museum Melbourne,museum melbourne,day trips from Melbourne,weekend getaways Victoria,ships to visit melbourne,maritime village,maritime history australia,shipwrecks museum,Polly woodside,HMSA Castlemaine,Seaworks,Flagstaff Hill, Things to do in Port Welshpool,Things to do in Portland,Things to do in Geelong,things to do in Port Albert,things to do in Paynesville,things to do in Queenscliff,
Port Welshpool Maritime Museum - Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge

Outside you will find the Janet Iles, a fishing boat built in 1914, sheds containing fishing paraphernalia, a huge red and white buoy, and some agricultural implements. It is normally open Saturdays 12.30 pm to 4.30pm. They can be contacted on (03) 5988 6173 or 0413 199 776 or email pwmmuseum@gmail.com

maritime museum,maritime museum Victoria,maritime museum Melbourne,museum melbourne,day trips from Melbourne,weekend getaways Victoria,ships to visit melbourne,maritime village,maritime history australia,shipwrecks museum,Polly woodside,HMSA Castlemaine,Seaworks,Flagstaff Hill, Things to do in Port Welshpool,Things to do in Portland,Things to do in Geelong,things to do in Port Albert,things to do in Paynesville,things to do in Queenscliff,
Port Welshpool Maritime Museum - don't miss the outdoor displays - Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge.

10. Paynesville Maritime Museum Is housed in a large shed in Raymond Street, adjacent to the Gilsenan reserve, behind the playground. The display centre showcases the maritime history of Paynesville, with a focus on of the steamers and the commercial fishermen and their boats. The collection includes maritime artefacts, photographs, equipment, tools, boat propellers, fishing nets, wicker fish baskets, recreational boating and angling artefacts, and so much more. It is normally open on the morning between 8.30am and 12.30pm, of the second Sunday each month and coincides with Lions market day and is entry is free. For more information, including the story of the museum's establishment and details of the maritime heritage trail, visit their website.

maritime museum,maritime museum Victoria,maritime museum Melbourne,museum melbourne,day trips from Melbourne,weekend getaways Victoria,ships to visit melbourne,maritime village,maritime history australia,shipwrecks museum,Polly woodside,HMSA Castlemaine,Seaworks,Flagstaff Hill, Things to do in Port Welshpool,Things to do in Portland,Things to do in Geelong,things to do in Port Albert,things to do in Paynesville,things to do in Queenscliff,
Image from Paynesville Maritime Museum Facebook page.

South Western Victoria

11. Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and Village Is in Merri Street, Warrnambool and is so much more than just a museum, it is an interactive village and a great place for a family outing. For the full low down on Flagstaff Hill check out their website. The museum within the village has a state-of-the-art immersion theatre where it presents a show of Warrnambool's early history. The museum houses shipwreck artefacts from around 200 ships known to have been wrecked along this coast, underwater shipwreck videos, and sailing footage from 1929.

maritime museum,maritime museum Victoria,maritime museum Melbourne,museum melbourne,day trips from Melbourne,weekend getaways Victoria,ships to visit melbourne,maritime village,maritime history australia,shipwrecks museum,Polly woodside,HMSA Castlemaine,Seaworks,Flagstaff Hill, Things to do in Port Welshpool,Things to do in Portland,Things to do in Geelong,things to do in Port Albert,things to do in Paynesville,things to do in Queenscliff,
The 1870s Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village - Image by Jorge Láscar from Australia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The entry fee includes a 40 minute guided tour commencing at 11.30am and held by a guide in full period costume. You might like to time your visit to Warrnambool to coincide with whale watching season, which runs from June to September. Find more details about whale watching here. For details of Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and the Village, including attractions, events, tours, contacts, opening times and pricing visit their website.

maritime museum,maritime museum Victoria,maritime museum Melbourne,museum melbourne,day trips from Melbourne,weekend getaways Victoria,ships to visit melbourne,maritime village,maritime history australia,shipwrecks museum,Polly woodside,HMSA Castlemaine,Seaworks,Flagstaff Hill, Things to do in Port Welshpool,Things to do in Portland,Things to do in Geelong,things to do in Port Albert,things to do in Paynesville,things to do in Queenscliff,
Inside the ship – Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village - Jorge Láscar from Melbourne, Australia, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

12. Portland Maritime Discovery Centre Is housed in the Visitor Information Centre on Lee Breakwater Road. The cornerstone of the collection is Portland's 1858 lifeboat one of the oldest of its type in the world. Also on display is a 14-metre sperm whale skeleton, and artefacts showcasing whaling and sealing, the Adamella shipwreck disaster of 1859, Portland's early fishing industry and boating. The centre is normally open from 9am-5pm daily except on Christmas Day. Entry is free. For more information and contact details visit their page of the Visit Portland website.

maritime museum,maritime museum Victoria,maritime museum Melbourne,museum melbourne,day trips from Melbourne,weekend getaways Victoria,ships to visit melbourne,maritime village,maritime history australia,shipwrecks museum,Polly woodside,HMSA Castlemaine,Seaworks,Flagstaff Hill, Things to do in Port Welshpool,Things to do in Portland,Things to do in Geelong,things to do in Port Albert,things to do in Paynesville,things to do in Queenscliff,
James Shaw – The Admella wrecked, Cape Banks, 6th August, 1859 – Google Art Project

Help us improve  Click here if you liked this article  66
Share: email  facebook  twitter
Why? Discover our seafaring history and learn about the hardy people who lived it
When: Check the museum websites for opening times
Where: In Melbourne and Victoria - locations are in the article
Cost: Some are free - check the websites for entry fees
Your Comment
Another fine article Gayle.
by May Cross (score: 3|8202) 373 days ago
Another well researched article Gayle. Hopefully articles like these will entice visitors which will ensure their longevity. Congrats on another silver.
by Neil Follett (score: 3|4259) 373 days ago
So many, who would have thought. We've been to a couple of them.
by betty (score: 2|662) 372 days ago
It is always interesting to see our history being displayed. Most of the local museums are run by volunteers and are always keen to share their passion.
by Roger (score: 2|783) 373 days ago
Articles from other cities
Featured
Top Events
Popular Articles
Categories
Lists
Questions