Sydney Maritime Museum offers excellent insight into the relationship that Australia has long had with the sea. This continent and country is entirely surrounded by water, and so it almost goes without saying that the first European visitors arrived by boat. In fact, one of the main exhibits at the Australian National Maritime Museum, as this museum is more officially known, is a replica of the ship that Captain James Cook pioneered when he laid claim to the continent in 1770—the Endeavor. Before the arrival of Captain Cook and other European explorers, the native Aborigines plied the area waters in their own crafts, and you can view some interesting relics that reflect these earlier times. The various Aboriginal vessels are among the more interesting exhibit pieces.
The Australian National Maritime Museum is one of the great things to do that call the Darling Harbour home. The western shore of the Darling Harbour is the more exact location, and you'll know you're in the right place when you see the various ships that are docked outside the main building. Among the ships that are docked in the harbor are the Endeavor replica, an Australian navy destroyer named the Vampire, and an Oberon Class submarine. For a fee, you can board these ships, which can be a real joy for both history buffs and maritime enthusiasts.
The main exhibits in the Sydney Maritime Museum building cover the Aborigines of Australia, the country's history as it relates to boat people and convicts, and a variety of other topics. The museum's collection of objects totals more than 40,000, with highlights including a celestial globe from 1602 that was used to train navigators and the famed Charlotte Medal that was engraved by a British convict named Thomas Barrett in 1788. Visitors can also expect to enjoy various traveling exhibits, as the museum plays host to them with regularity. A variety of special events only add to the appeal of the Sydney Maritime Museum, and you'll be happy to know that it doesn't cost anything to access the main exhibition building. The regular daily hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., though the museum tends to stay open until 6 p.m. during the month of January.
It should be noted that the Australian National Maritime Museum can easily be paired with a variety of other Darling Harbour attractions if you're looking to make a day of it while in the area. These attractions include the Powerhouse Museum, the Sydney Aquarium, and the Sydney Entertainment Center, to name a few.