Australian Museum is Australia’s oldest museum, right in the heart of Sydney’s CBD opposite Hyde Park. If you’re in Sydney with young kids, then it’s a must do – mainly because of the excellent Kidspace for under 5s.
Australian Museum is housed inside a 19th century sandstone and to that extent it provides an ‘old-fashioned’ museum experience, with lots of static displays in glass cases and explanation plaques. It’s a natural science museum so you’ll be able to get your fix of fossils, anthropological specimens and rocks. In September the Crystal Hall opened to create a new entrance on William Street, plus a new permanent exhibition ‘Wild Planet’ with over 400 stuffed animals.
If looking in things in glass boxes gets a bit dull after a while then head straight to level 2 to Kidspace. It is a fantastic interactive and exploratory ‘mini-museum’ where kids are encouraged to explore the natural world and for international visitors it’s a fun place to learn about Australian flora and fauna.
The space is a great place for parents to relax as it’s gated! If you want you can just plonk yourself in a chair and let the kids roam and explore. Lady AB and Baby 2.0 were there for almost 1.5 hours and weren’t even interested in seeing the rest of the museum after that!
It includes five themed cubby house ‘pods’ – bug pod, marine pod, volcano pod, observation pod and imagination pod – with different activities at every station. I liked how they were kid-sized and not adult-sized so it really encouraged self-directed play and learning. Inside you might find dress-ups, puzzles, figurines and our favourite, the tree house.
Outside the pods there are kids-sized tables and chairs with more activities, including magnifying glasses, light tables, sensory play and puzzles.
A stepped reading area has cushions and lots of picture books about science.
There’s even a gated, soft fall area especially for crawling babies plus change facilities and bottle warmer so you don’t have to leave Kidspace to feed or clean your baby.
The only negative is that there’s no natural light in the space, but on a dark and rainy day I guess that wouldn’t matter! If you are craving light then head to the Level 4 Rooftop Cafe with lovely views of Hyde Park and the Sydney cityscape. The decor and food offering isn’t amazing but there are high chairs, change facilities, kids menu and lots of space to roam.
- If you’re a Museum Victoria member then you get free admission to Australian Museum;
- Free admission for kids under 16 years at all times;
- Kidspace is fully gated;
- pram parking available;
- change facilities and bottle warmer available;
- no food or drink allowed inside Kidspace but there are a few benches just outside the gates so you can eat/drink then go back in. You can also eat in the child-friendly Rooftop Cafe;
- Bags can be stored in coin operated lockers in the Atrium on Level G. A $2.00 charge applies for 4-hour rental; and
- Free WiFi is available througout the Museum. Some exhibition labels contain extra online content which you can access from your own device.