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Australian Museum Tips (20)

Australian Museum

It had been a number of years since I had visited the Australian Museum but I was recently drawn back, attracted by the fact that it was hosting a special exhibition, Trailblazers, honouring Australia’s 50 greatest explorers and because I had a museum pass, bought on a recent trip to Melbourne, which gave me free entry to museum’s permanent galleries.

Since I last visited very little had changed, the old Victorian building still retains its charm – though a new approach and glass entrance hall, pompously referred to as the ‘Museum Walk and Crystal Hall Entrance’, tacked onto the side of the building now somewhat detracts from the exterior look of that side of the building.

In terms of its collection, the first area visited by most people is the beautiful Long Room comprising a ground floor and two balcony levels (latter accessed later). Here, on the ground floor, is an excellent collection of both human and animal skeletons – including the ‘Bone Ranger’, a human skeleton riding a bolting horse skeleton, as depicted in my second picture attached. Do jump onto, and peddle, the bicycle in this area. It is connected to a human skeleton on a similar bicycle which will mimic your peddling – sort of fun and an interesting anatomical lesson for those wishing to partake. My favourite piece in this room, a skeletal man resting in his chair reading a newspaper while his loyal skeletal dog, on a leash, sat on the floor by his chair, was sadly not there on my most recent visit (May 2016). I suspect the politically correct brigade may have intervened, lest visitors over enjoy their visit.

Anyway, moving on, one enters the first part of the museum’s natural history area which is continued on most of the second floor. Across both floors you will find an extensive array of animals - stuffed, pickled, preserved, on pins or otherwise displayed. Of particular note is the dinosaur exhibition and an area focusing on animals, past and present, native to Australia.

The museum has a surprisingly large mineral and gemstone collection, which while focusing on Australian content has samples from around the world. Lots of glitz and colour in here. By the way, the massive gold nuggets are reproductions! The prized part of this ensemble is the private collection of Albert Chapman, acquired by the museum in 1995. The Chapman collection is world renowned for its mineralogical diversity, crystal perfection, aesthetic appeal and high Australian content.

Common to most museums in Australia, the Australian Museum has an Aboriginal section exhibiting a selection of its 40,000 piece collection of Indigenous tools, artworks, adornments and other cultural material.

Not surprising, the museum also has one of the world’s largest Pacific collections and a small (I think it could be larger – personal taste, I guess) selection of Pacific island masks, ceremonial poles, Bird of Paradise head adornments (from Papua New Guinea), bowls, drums, and jewellery is on display.

Last but not least, no 19th century museum would be complete without an Egyptian section. This is taken care of via a solitary mummy located in the corridor by the lifts on either the 1st or 2nd floor – I can’t recall which. Incidentally the Australian Museum is the country’s oldest public museum, having opened in 1827.

All in all, while not a massive museum, the museum hosts an interesting and varied display which is well laid out and labelled making it worthy a couple of hours of your time. I do however think the entrance fee is a little on the high side, though not extortionate.

On the fourth floor is a rooftop café which can be safely missed as it poorly designed/ laid out and lacks any form of atmosphere – as it did customers on my last visit. That said, it is fine if you want a quick drink or a bite to eat and don’t want to go to the trouble of leaving the museum and returning (as you can do – within the same day). The advertised view is, hmmm, ok but not worth going up for, in itself.

Opening Hours

9.30am to 5.00pm every day except Christmas Day

Entrance Cost

Adults A$15.00
Concessions $8.00
Children under 15 – Free

An additional, and variable fee, applies for special exhibitions.

Various membership options available.

My Next June 2016 Sydney Review

wabat's Profile Photo
Jun 10, 2016

Natural and Aboriginal

We got off at the Australian Museum stop about 3:30.

I had not really intended to visit this museum but we had ridden the Hop On Hop Off bus most of the afternoon and I thought we could stop here and then get back on the bus and get back to the hotel and finish up the next day. I also thought my granddaughter would be interested in the aboriginal art, since she is an art student. I also wanted to show her what opals (her birthstone) looked like

Open 9.30am to 5.00pm every day except Christmas Day.
Adult $12
Concessions $8
Concession categories
Seniors Card-holders (all states)
International seniors
International Student Idenitification Card-holders
Student card-holders
Child (5 -15 years) $6

They charge an extra percentage if you use a credit card instead of cash.

I had a coupon for 20% off out of a book I got at the airport. We didn't pay extra to see the Deep Ocean Exhibit. We got a wheelchair and my granddaughter pushed. We saw the native birds and some minerals (looked at the various opals) and the Aboriginal art. It wasn't as good as some natural history museums I have seen, but it was OK and we did get a look at some birds and animals.

After we shopped in the bookstore there we turned in the wheelchair and got back on the Sydney hop-on-hop-off bus.

grandmaR's Profile Photo
Apr 29, 2015

Australian Museum

This museum, the oldest in Australia is a museum of natural history and anthropology. Its collections cover invertebrate and vertebrate zoology, mineralogy and palaeontology, and anthropology. It also provided a setting for showing and promoting indigenous arts and culture. My interest covered the latter so after a brief look at the other galleries I explored the history of the Indigenous people.

They have occupied Australia for at least 60,000 and possibly as much as 120,000 years. How they reached here is shrouded in mystery but the landmasses were different then which may have made the journey across what is now water easier. On reaching here they evolved with the land, changing it and changing with it. The land to them is not just soil, rocks and minerals but is the core of their spirituality.

Their religion, the Dreaming, has different meanings for different tribes. It is a network of knowledge faith and practices that stems from stories of creation, which controls all spiritual and physical aspects of life. It sets out the structure of society, the rules for social behaviour and the ceremonies performed to preserve the life of the land. In essence the Dreaming comes from the land. With the arrival of the Europeans the Dreaming entered a new phase to take account of the newcomers. It is a powerful living force to the Aboriginals that they nurture and care for.

When European colonists first arrived they found an unfamiliar land occupied by plants, animals and people they didn't understand. They misunderstood the important connection between indigenous Australians and land and thought the land was theirs for the taking. They didn’t realise that if they took for example fish from waters traditionally fished by Aboriginals the indigenous people would expect something back in return. The Aboriginals might therefore help themselves to for instance a cow. The settlers saw this as theft not realising that they themselves were guilty and so conflict grew.

The Europeans in several cases hunted down the Aboriginals. They offered resistance. Pemulwug was the first to do so. Between 1790 and 1802 he waged a guerrilla war on the young colony of New South Wales. Although shot and captured in 1802 others continued the fight.

The whites massacred hundreds of Aboriginals at Waterloo creek in 1837. The year 1838 saw some justice. A court ordered the hanging of seven whites for the murder of several black people at Myall Creek. However Aboriginals died in great numbers from European diseases, poor food and accommodation, ill treatment and sometimes murder.

The newcomers even tried breeding the Aboriginals out of existence by forcing the women to take white men as husbands. The forced separation of children from parents by the Aboriginal Protection Board occurred from the late 1880s until 1969. The Board aimed to bring up the children like white children.

Link -up formed in 1980 worked with Aboriginal adults separated as children from their families. They were the lost generation who lost contact with their roots. States or sectarian institutions for indigenous children or in non-indigenous institutions, foster homes or adoption homes raised many.

Since 1987 the Aboriginals have been gradually winning full title to their traditional lands. 1994 even saw the launch of the anti-racism campaign by the NSW Local Aboriginal Land Council at Sydney Opera House.

One of the great ironies of indigenous history is that the use of indigenous labour aided the steady advances of the pastoral industry and indigenous land. Indigenous stockmen provided valuable bush skills and labour, yet received little for their work.

The sheer contempt that white people had for other cultures I find breathtaking. Charles Darwin’s work On the Origin of Species must have contributed with its ideas on the survival of the fittest. In fact the early attempts to explore Australia were often stupid beyond belief. Something that consulting the indigenous people would have prevented. However such was the contempt that they were held they weren’t originally even classified as people but as fauna.

At first while admiring their art I at first thought them only pretty patterns. Buried deep within them thought is a story some quite complex. Originally they used natural materials such as from the gum tree but they have rapidly caught up with modern methods and now often use acrylics. White painters did not have a feel for Australia and it was Aboriginal painters through their works that truly opened up the red heard of Australia with their expressive paintings.

Drever's Profile Photo
Apr 17, 2014

Pushing a Wheelchair

We went to this museum to look at native birds and art. I was particularly interested in the masks and I had a good time shopping in the museum shop. I did have to push my grandmother in a wheelchair, and some of the spaces (especially around the stuffed birds) there were a lot of crowds and I had a hard time getting her through. There were elevators

DEBBBEDB's Profile Photo
Sep 01, 2012
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Australian Museum

If you are tired of partying and sightseeing and you want to soak in some culture this a good place for you. The museum offers a great exhibit about Australia's natural history and indigenous cultures. The time that we visited this museum they also have an exhinit called " From the Tomb and Beyond" (?).

I find the exhibit about the indigenous culture the most interesting part of the museum

terps94's Profile Photo
Apr 04, 2011

Australia Museum

The Australia Museum was high on my list of places to visit in Sydney since I am a Natural History Geek. The Museum is a good size with some nice exhibits of Indigenous AUstralian Artifacts, Skeletons, Rocka & Minerals, dinosaur displays, animals displays and Aboriginal exhibits.

Some of my favorite exhibits were of the rocks and minerals. Ilove Earth Science and this exhibit was heaven for me. The skeleton exhibit had a nice collection of skeletons from various animals. They even had some funny exhiits such as the "Bone Ranger" which was a human skeleton riding upon a horse skeleton cowboy style.

It was a fun time exploring the museum and even Chris enjoyed it.

LadyRVG's Profile Photo
Jul 28, 2009

The Australian Museum

This Museum of Anthropology and natural history is one of Sydney's best. Sydney is not particulary known for its aboriginal culture but this is one place to get to know more about of Australia's first inhabitants.

Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
Jan 18, 2009

The Bone Ranger

The Bone Ranger is one of those things that makes your visit all the better. The bones exhibit at the Australian Museum really was a lot better than I was expecting.

That along with the mineral exhibits and this was a nice stop on a morning path towards the fish market.

cjg1's Profile Photo
Oct 29, 2007
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"What do you do with your weekend?"
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"A Ramble around Sydney"
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"Love Those Sydneysiders"
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"Sydney - For the discerning tourist"
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Australian Museum

This museum has some interesting displays on native Australians, an interesting skeleton collection of various animals, displays of native birds and insects, as well as a lot of different rocks and minerals, nice for geologists I suppose.

Would have expected something a bit better from a museum with such a name, but it was worth visiting anyway.

salisbury3933's Profile Photo
Mar 25, 2007

Australian Museum - a nice way to spend the day!

Today I spent most of the day at the Australian Museum. I really enjoyed the temporary Egyptian exhibit, the Indigenous Australian people exhibit, and the minerals exhibit.

The picture is of a reconstruction of a chapel that missionaries set up when they went in to the aboriginal areas. There are two interesting pieces of art hanging on the wall. One was a variation of 'The Last Supper'.

There were also extensive exhibits of skeletons, birds & insects that were nice, but not something I enjoyed as much as the others. :)

The museum is open 7 days from 9:30am-5pm.

Admission prices:

Family (2 adults, 2 children) $25
Family (1 adult, 2 children) $17.50
Extra child (each) $2.50
Adult $10
Child (5 - 15 years) $5
Under 5s FREE
Concession card holders:
Government Concession Card Holders $5
Australian Student Card Holders $5
Seniors Card Holders NSW Government Issue $5
Members of The Australian Museum Society (TAMS) FREE
Australian Age Pensioners FREE
Schools: $5 per student

The temporary exhibits can cost extra. The Egyptian exhibit cost an extra $8 for adults.

Check the website for additional daily activities.

saraheg77's Profile Photo
Sep 12, 2005


Australias first museum established in 1821 the Australian Museum is a wonderful guide to the natural history of this amazing country

originally we thought the entrance fee of 10AUD was very expensive, but agreed later that it was worth every cent, we were there for over 4 hours and still didnt see everything
perhaps we are slower than the usual museum visitors, after all we were following the self guided tour leaflet which says approximate time one hour, and we did visit the museum coffee shop for refreshments, but the exhibits were so interesting we didnt notice the time passing

one of our favourite exhibitions was the skeleton room, it could have been gruesome but we found it to be fun, quirky and informative

the museum is open 9.30 - 5 every day except for Christmas day, there are lockers available for bags / backpacks

BerniShand's Profile Photo
May 14, 2005

Australian Museum

This is Australias first museum and probably the best to find out about Australia.
Collections include:
Indigenous Australians
Chapman Mineral Collection
Birds and Insects
Here one would step into one of the world's most remarkable natural history museums.

MikeAtSea's Profile Photo
Jan 11, 2005

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Getting to Australian Museum


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  • Sunday 09:30 to 17:00
  • Monday 09:30 to 17:00
  • Tuesday 09:30 to 17:00
  • Wednesday 09:30 to 17:00
  • Thursday 09:30 to 17:00
  • Friday 09:30 to 17:00
  • Saturday 09:30 to 17:00