Earthquake machines and life-sized dinosaur skeletons are among the awesome attractions Australian museums offer. Check out some of the highlights
1. National Museum of Australia, Canberra
A mysterious bunyip, a boy from the Torres Strait who transformed into a dugong and the cat who circumnavigated Australia with explorer Matthew Flinders are among the characters kids can meet at the innovative Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Centre, which opened at the National Museum of Australia in 2022. It’s a great place for children aged up to six about Australian history through storytelling and play, with a specially curated play area with five separate spaces featuring signature Australian animal stories, and a colourful infant crawl space where toddlers can make and build while their younger siblings roll, crawl and investigate. In the main museum, you can also see Captain Cook’s navigational instruments and collections on The Olympics and bushranger Ned Kelly.
2. Queensland Museum in South Brisbane
Kids will love learning about natural history, science and human achievement at the flagship campus of the Queensland Museum, located in the heart of the South Brisbane Cultural Precinct. Highlights include the interactive Discovery Centre and the Lost Creatures gallery, where children can learn about Queensland’s extinct dinosaurs and megafauna. Older kids can discover their inner scientist at the SparkLab, which encourages them to question the world around them.
3. Questacon, Canberra
Generations of Australians have enjoyed the delights of this fascinating science and technology museum, which opened in the nation’s capital in 1988. Highlights include feeling the force of an earthquake, seeing lightning illuminate the room and peeking inside a beehive. Younger kids will enjoy Mini Q — a custom-built play space for children up to six-years-old, including role play, space play and water play areas.
4. Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney
Kids can explore tall ships, navy vessels and a cold war submarine at this impressive Darling Harbour attraction in the Harbour City. Its galleries also showcase historical artefacts that bring Australia’s deep connection to the sea alive, exploring the topics of migration, commerce, archaeology, ocean science, culture and lifestyle.
5. Scitech, Perth
See one of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest Planetariums – with an 18-metre domed screen and up-to-the-minute discoveries updated in real time – at this Western Australia museum. There are five permanent galleries to explore, including Discoverland, Kaartadjin Koorliny, Rio Tinto Innovation Central, and the Western Australian Science Zone. It also has a puppet theatre, a tinkering space and a scitech lab.
6. National Dinosaur Museum, Canberra
Budding palaeontologists can see the largest permanent display of dinosaur paraphernalia in the country at this Canberra museum. Located in the hub of Gold Creek Village in Nicholls, it features life-like dinosaur models, full skeletons, skulls, and animatronic dinosaurs. There’s also a gift shop with an impressive array of souvenirs. If your kids are really brave, you can also book to explore the museum by torchlight on a night tour.
7. Scienceworks Melbourne
Curious young minds will find plenty of stimulation at this Melbourne museum. Stroll among the gigantic machines that kept the city running, enjoy electrifying theatre in the Lightning Room and drop into deep space in the Melbourne Planetarium. Your little ones can roam safely in enclosed spaces and wander through its many immersive exhibitions.
8. The Australian Museum, Sydney
Walk amongst real dinosaur skeletons and life-size models at The Australian Museum, which reopened in late 2020 after a major refurbishment. Its collections include scientific specimens of animals, fossils and minerals, as well as cultural objects such as Egyptian sculptures, ghost net art by Indigenous artists, and the Hawaiian Feather Cape presented to Captain Cook in 1778.