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If your kids are fascinated by ships, pirates and sailing, take them to the Maritime Centre.
Located near the water at Honeysuckle, a trip to the Maritime Centre is a fun yet educational day out for families. Housed in a restored wharf building, the Maritime Centre is packed with history and artifacts from 200 years of local maritime activity.
We recently visited with our five year old daughter and she was fascinated by the exhibits and interactive displays. In my opinion, the museum is best suited for kids 5 and over who will appreciate the maritime theme of the museum. It’s not as suitable for younger kids as there’s miniature ship models on display which could get damaged by small curious hands.
There’s surprisingly a large amount of things for kids to do. My daughter loved the dress up box and spend quite a bit of time dressing up as a pirate, sea captain and sailor.
Here’s my Pirate Queen alongside William IV.
And she couldn’t wait to grab the wheel and explore the Port of Newcastle in an interactive multimedia display.
She got tangled up in knots trying to tie some common nautical knots.
She also found a loud Morse key which allowed her to try out tapping things in Morse Code and also had a go at the semaphore flags. Luckily, the staff of the Maritime Centre are used to the loudness of the Morse key.
One of my daughter’s favourite was using the air pump to pump air to an underwater diver in the form of bubbles. This both amused and tired her out. Incidentally, this original air pump was from the workboat at the Catherine Hill Bay Jetty.
Even though the centre isn’t large, it’s packed with lot of artifacts and memorabilia ranging from small personal items salvaged from local shipwrecks to large lifeboats and the Rocket Wagon.
The Rocket Wagon was particularly interesting and was used in occasions when the seas were too rough for a life boat.
This vehicle would be taken down to the beach and would launch line-carrying rockets. Once a line was secured, crew members could be rescued one by one along this line in a special lifebuoy seat.
The Port of Newcastle gets special mention with information about the port, shipbuilding and coal exports.
There’s also information about local wrecks and near-misses such as the Sygna and of course the infamous Pasha Bulker.
I really enjoyed our visit to the Maritime Centre. There’s lots of interesting and interactive displays that the whole family could enjoy
Furthermore, it was fascinating to learn more about Newcastle and its rich maritime history. There are so many intriguing and poignant local stories. I was especially surprised by the number of shipwrecks off the coast especially near Stockton. Definitely worth a visit.
Be sure to visit during school holidays as the Maritime Centre runs a popular pirate school. It also hosts kids’ pirate-themed birthday parties throughout the year.
The Maritime Centre is open from 10am to 4pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Admission fees apply. $10 Adult, $5 Child and $25 for Family (2 adults and 3 children). Use your Entertainment Book for a 2 for 1 pass.