Beneath a soaring roof, the Maritime Museum sails through Australia’s inextricable relationship with the sea. Exhibitions range from Indigenous canoes to surf culture, immigration to the navy. The worthwhile ‘big ticket’ (adult/child $32/20) includes entry to some of the vessels moored outside, including the atmospheric submarine HMAS Onslow and the destroyer HMAS Vampire. The high-production-value short film Action Stations sets the mood with a re-creation of a mission event from each vessel. Excellent free guided tours explain each vessel's features.
You can also visit a lighthouse and an 1874 square rigger, the James Craig, which periodically offers sailing trips. Normally a replica of Cook’s Endeavour also drops anchor here. There's plenty to do for kids, especially at weekends.
Other parts of the museum include a free exhibition on wooden boats in the next building north, and, opposite Pyrmont Bay ferry stop, the Welcome Wall, a commemoration of migration to Australia that seems particularly relevant in the current political climate.