The human stories of Australia's naval heritage

A blue helicopter on display at the Australian National Maritime Museum

A look inside naval traditions

Ticket Info
  • About


    Entering this exhibition in the spectacular ANZ Tall Gallery, you are surrounded by an atmosphere of naval tradition and service. A Fleet Air Arm helicopter hangs in 'flight' from the ceiling, a missile tracking radar dish protrudes from a wall, a curved wall evokes a submarine hull.

    The Navy exhibition explores how the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) operates on land, in the air and under the sea, during peace and war. 

    • Experience the richness of Australia's naval heritage through human stories of bravery, tragedy and triumph. 
    • Peer into the contents of a sailor's ditty box from the 1920s. 
    • Relive the dramatic three-day rescue of Tony Bullimore in 1997 and the "children overboard" affair of 2001. 
    • Find out why Commander Harry Bennett received his displayed Distinguished Service Order.

    From its earliest days, the RAN has been as much about its servicemen and women as its operations, ships and technologies. From the viewing platform of this soaring gallery, you can watch a screening of 'Navy: Purpose, Fleet, People'.

    Personal mementos on display include war medals, uniforms and souvenirs from foreign engagements, such as a temple bell and rifle carved with a dragon from the Boxer Rebellion in China.

    Traditions and customs punctuate life in the navy. Christenings onboard ships in port allow families to come together for a special event. View the bell from our submarine HMAS Onslow to see - inscribed inside - the names of crew members' children who were christened onboard.

    Famous figures also feature in this exhibition, including a giant figurehead of Admiral Lord Nelson, from an 1814 British warship, that became a familiar sight on Victoria's Port Phillip Bay.

    Become a Submariner

    In the submarine section, walk into the precarious world of clearance diving and mine warfare. Try the periscope and test your skills with the sonar operator game. Climb onto the bunks (called racks) to experience sleeping like a submariner. What would you pack for your time on a cramped submarine? It all has to fit into an impossibly small kit bag, so think carefully.

    HMAS Sydney

    The enduring legacy of HMAS Sydney has seen four ships bear the name, the latest built in 1983. This exhibition tells the distinguished histories of each of them, from defeat of an enemy warship to a brush with anti-war protesters.

    Ticket Information

    Open daily, 9.30am–5pm

    FREE entry

    See our Admissions page for full price information and to book your tickets. Our Plan Your Visit page has everything you need to know about a trip to the museum.

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    The Navy gallery at the Australian National Maritime MuseumThe Navy gallery at the Australian National Maritime MuseumThe Navy gallery at the Australian National Maritime MuseumChildren using the periscope interactive in the Navy gallery at the Australian National Maritime Museum
  • Info for Teachers and Schools

    Info for Teachers and Schools

    Excursion preparation information for visiting schools: Plan Your Visit

    Book a school visit and program

  • Visit a Vessel

    Visit a Vessel

    Docked at the museum’s wharves, the destroyer HMAS Vampire is Australia's largest museum vessel and is the last of the country's big gun ships. These powerful, fast ships were designed principally for the machinery and weapons of war. One look at the cramped living spaces onboard and you will see that comfort came a poor second! At the museum’s wharves you will also find our submarine HMAS Onslow which was decommissioned in 1999, just weeks before coming to the museum. It's still close to operational condition. So, if you venture onboard, listen out for the diving alarm! See Vessels.

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