Exhibition

On the Waterfront

View the historic lighthouse and other landmarks

Various vessels and a lighthouse on the waterfront of the Australian National Maritime Museum

When you visit the Australian National Maritime Museum, be sure to wander along our attractive waterfront

Ticket Info
  • About

    About

    Home to our heritage fleet and part of beautiful Darling Harbour, our waterfront is a serene walk filled with maritime tales. There's anchors, boats, sculptures and much more to explore as you walk along the wharf - and don't miss our Welcome Wall your way to the Pyrmont Bay ferry terminal.  

    Seafarer's Memorial Anchors

    Seafarers’ Memorial Anchors

    Formerly known as the Vernon Anchors, these two long-shank anchors are thought to have been used to moor the Nautical Training Ship Vernon, a floating school and reformatory operated by the Colonial Government in 1867. In the late 1980s the anchors were rescued from a marine depot yard at Birchgrove, Sydney, and later moved to Goat Island. In 1990 they were donated by the Seamen’s Union of Australia (now the Maritime Union of Australia) to the Australian National Maritime Museum for use as a memorial to seafarers. The anchors are the largest known early-19th-century Admiralty anchors in Australia and their long association with the working harbour of Sydney makes them a fitting tribute to merchant seafarers. 

    Click here for more information on the anchors.

    Johnnie and Mehmet sculpture which commemorates AE2

    'Johnnie and Mehmet', AE2 Commemorative Sculpture  

    During World War I, Australia’s only remaining submarine, HMAS AE2, made a daring and hazardous incursion into the Dardanelles and the Sea of Marmara, playing a game of cat and mouse with the Ottoman torpedo boat Sultanhisar. Entitled Johnnie and Mehmet, the two figures – sailors from AE2 and Sultanhisar respectively, former enemies – meet again today at the museum in the context of the friendship between Australia and Turkey. They perform a visual ceremony of remembering which is kinetic and aural, signalling to each other in semaphore-like movements derived from maritime languages, punctuated by sounds from the maritime world, ceremonial and atmospheric at the same time.

    Read more about the AE2 and this artwork here

    Harding Safety Lifeboat

    Harding Safety Boat 

    This unusual looking boat could have the most important job in our fleet! It is a fully-enclosed survival vessel designed to give tanker crew a safe exit, offering protection from burning oil and dangerous gases. The lifeboat is designed for ships or offshore installations. Its hatches hermetically seal and special features include a compressed-air passenger breathing system and a seawater pump to spray the entire boat for cooling. The lifeboat will even right itself after turning 360 degrees. It is owned and operated by the Sydney Institute of TAFE Marine Technology Centre and is used for training.

    Read more about the vessel here.

    Cape Bowling Green Lighthouse

    Cape Bowling Green Lighthouse

    By 1874 many ships had run aground at Cape Bowling Green. This low sandy spit south of Townsville, Queensland, was in dire need of a lighthouse to help ships serving North Queensland ports. The lighthouse was built from local hardwood and clad with iron plates imported from Britain. Staffed by a keeper and three assistants, it was moved twice when threatened by the sea. When an automatic acetylene light was installed in 1920 (operated by a sun valve), the lighthouse was de-staffed. In 1987, it was replaced by a modern tower. It was transported to the museum in 1994, re-erected on our North Wharf and fitted with the type of clockwork and kerosene mechanism used in 1913. Free guided tours operate daily - check times at the ticket desk in the museum foyer.

    More information and specifications (PDF, 202kb)

    Windjammers sculpture

    Windjammers Sculpture 

    Windjammer Sailors is a stunning bronze sculpture of two sailors at the wheel, wrestling with the helm in heavy weather — a very common moment of peril on any long sea voyage. Executed in a figurative realist style in full life-size scale this waterfront sculpture pays homage to sailors in the 19th and early 20th centuries who often risked their lives in perilous weather to sail wind ships (windjammers) carrying critical cargoes in and out of Australian ports to foreign lands. The work is based on a concept by Australian artist Dennis Adams (1914–2001) which has been modelled by sculptor Brett Garling and was cast at the Australian Bronze foundry at Sydney’s North Head.

    You can find out more about the work and Dennis Adams here

    Signal Mast

    Signal Mast

    A signal mast is used for hoisting signal flags that send messages to vessels. This 20.7 m (68 ft) signal mast was erected in 1912 at the Royal Australian Navy's Garden Island Dockyard, Sydney. Pennants (flags) were flown from it with messages to naval vessels in the harbour. While it looms large now, the original signal mast was over 70 metres high! In World War II, the middle section was removed because it was a hazard to flying boats taking off from Rose Bay.

    More information and specifications (PDF, 503kb)





    AE1 memorial sculpture

    AE1 Memorial '...the ocean bed their tomb'

    In 2015 we unveiled an art installation by leading Australian artist Warren Langley to commemorate the disappearance of submarine HMAS AE1 and the loss of its crew during World War I. The work evokes a large steel wreath which shines in the daylight and is lit from concealed lights underneath during the evening. The concept for the work of art arose from the mysterious circumstances of the submarine's disappearance and elusive shadow it leaves, in that neither the submarine nor the bodies of the men on board have been found.

    You can read more about HMAS AE1 and the artwork here




    Interactive Science Pontoon

    Sea Science Pontoon

    Come aboard our interactive science pontoon to investigate what happens when things end up in the harbour and take a peek beneath the waves. The ’Submerged stuff’ exhibits reveal what happens to different objects when they're immersed in seawater. Compare sunken objects to identical ones that have stayed out of the water, and to items made from different materials: What copes and what corrodes? The reverse ‘Periscope’ lets you take a 360 degree peek beneath the pontoon, and check out the sea life below.  What makes its home around the maritime museum’s wharves? 

    You can follow our experiment on our Flickr.


    Welcome Wall

    Welcome Wall 

    In one of history's great migrations, more than ten million people have crossed the world to settle in Australia. Was your family among them? The Welcome Wall stands in honour of all those who have migrated to live in Australia with registered names permanently engraved in bronze. You are invited to pay tribute to migrant family members and friends by having their names inscribed on the bronze-panelled wall. For each name, people can contribute a brief (150-word) story about the person being honoured to describe their journey. The name appears on the wall and their brief story is made available on a kiosk at the museum and on the Virtual Welcome Wall. 

    Click here for more information. 

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    Boats on the waterfront at the Australian National Maritime MuseumBoats on the waterfront at the Australian National Maritime Museum
  • Sea Science Pontoon

    Sea Science Pontoon

    Just what would a mobile phone look after being in the harbour for a few months? What creatures lurk just below the water’s surface? Discover these answers, and much more on our brand new family activity station – the Sea Science Pontoon.

    Floating on the harbour right outside the museum, the Sea Science Pontoon allows visitors to come aboard and investigate the harbour – directly.

    Explore a Hidden World

    The ’submerged stuff’ component reveals what happens to different objects when they’re immersed in seawater. Compare sunken objects to identical ones that have stayed out of the water, and to items made from different materials: what copes and what corrodes? Which creatures colonise the objects? Does stainless steel last better than galvanised? What you see may surprise you.

    You can follow our 'Before and After' experiment right now on our Flickr

    The 'reverse periscope’ lets you take a 360 degree peek beneath the pontoon, and check out sea life below, as it happens. What lives just beneath the Maritime Museum’s wharves? See what happens at feeding time, and try to spot Sydney's famous silvery bream and decidedly ugly leatherjackets, with their single spikey horns. Keep your eyes peeled for a bull shark. They do come and visit, when you least expect it.

    Admission to the Sea Science Pontoon is FREE. Currently closed for repairs.

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  • Windjammer sailors

    Windjammer sailors

    Photograph of the Windjammer Sailors sculpture outside the ANMM's Wharf 7 Heritage Centre


    Windjammer Sailors is a stunning bronze sculpture of two sailors at the wheel, wrestling with the helm in heavy weather — a very common moment of peril on any long sea voyage.

    Executed in a figurative realist style in full life-size scale this waterfront sculpture pays homage to sailors in the 19th and early 20th centuries who often risked their lives in perilous weather to sail wind ships (windjammers) carrying critical cargoes in and out of Australian ports to foreign lands.

    The work is based on a concept by Australian artist Dennis Adams (1914–2001) which has been modelled by sculptor Brett Garling and was cast at the Australian Bronze foundry at Sydney’s North Head.





    Windjammer Sailors was installed on the wharf near the Australian National Maritime Museum’s Wharf 7 maritime heritage centre on 21 April 2016. It repopulates the wharf with some of the ghosts of its past, importantly introducing maritime people back into the landscape alongside the historic trading barque James Craig and rail tracks which carried goods to and from similar ships visiting the wharves. 

    Unveiled on its modern angular concrete plinth on 27 April 2016, Windjammer Sailors is an appealing, accessible and appropriate punctuation point in the waterside promenade around the museum site and Darling Harbour, Pyrmont.

    The sculpture is presented to the Australian National Maritime Museum by Rear Admiral Andrew Robertson AO, DSC, RAN (Rtd) and produced with funds donated to the ANMM Foundation.