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Museums in WA

From ancient indigenous culture to European settlement and beyond, you can explore WA’s rich history at its many museums and heritage sites. Head to Fremantle to discover its maritime and convict past. Further south, Albany is WA’s oldest colonial settlement with an Anzac legacy. North, the pearling town of Broome boasts a colourful multicultural heritage; while Kalgoorlie-Boulder in the interior provides a window into the booming gold rush era.

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WA has a wide array of museums and historical sites, which explore the region’s rich history. From the world’s oldest culture, to colonisation and convicts, to gold rushes, world wars and more, there are many ways to discover our past.

Fremantle Arts Centre

The evocative Australian Gothic-style building opened its doors in 1864 as a lunatic asylum and “invalid depot”. It later housed poor and elderly women, became a WWII US Navy submarine depot and then a technical school. The refurbished limestone venue now has gallery spaces and hosts art courses, while live concerts and other events regularly take place in its leafy courtyard.

WA Museum

Closed to the public while under construction, the natural history museum will reopen as the New Museum for WA in Perth Cultural Centre in 2020. However, you can still find exhibits dotted around Perth, such as the dinosaur skeletons temporarily housed at Perth Concert Hall.

WA Maritime Museum

WA’s affinity with the ocean is celebrated in this state-of-the-art seaside museum in Fremantle. It is home to vessels such as the winning 1983 America’s Cup yacht Australia II, as well as handcrafted sailing boats, a submarine, commercial pearl luggers and more.

Fremantle Prison

Built by convicts in the 1850s, the imposing limestone institution remained in use until 1991. Visitors today can explore its spooky confines and get to know shady inhabitants from its convict beginnings to its days as a maximum security prison. You can even explore its labyrinth of tunnels or brave the torchlight tour.

WA Shipwrecks Museum

Recognised as the foremost maritime archaeology museum in the southern hemisphere, the WA Shipwrecks Museum is housed in an 1850s-era building featuring hundreds of relics from ships wrecked along WA’s treacherous coastline.

Scitech

The interactive science museum is designed to educate children of all ages about science, technology, engineering and maths. The venue features a 180 degree planetarium dome and also showcases themed exhibitions.

Other museums in the Perth region
  • Perth Mint
  • Museum of Performing Arts
  • Royal Perth Hospital Museum
  • WA Aviation Museum
  • WA Cricket Association Museum
  • WA Medical Museum
  • Department of Fire and Emergency Services Education and Heritage Centre
  • Gravity Discovery Centre
  • Kalamunda History Village
  • Motor Museum of WAThe Nostalgia Box
National ANZAC Centre

Opened in 2014, the award-winning facility in Albany uses multimedia, interactive technology and historical artifacts to tell the personal stories of the WWI ANZAC soldiers. The venue offers sweeping views of King George Sound, where convoys departed a century ago. It runs in conjunction with the adjacent heritage-listed Princess Royal Fortress in Albany Heritage Park.

Museum of the Great Southern

Overlooking Albany’s picturesque Princess Royal Harbour on the site of first European settlement in WA, this museum shares stories of the Menang Noongar people, the early settlers and convicts. It also showcases the region’s unique natural landscape, flora and fauna, much of which is found nowhere else in the world.

Busselton Jetty Interpretive Centre

The iconic jetty at Busselton’s Geographe Bay is 1841m, making it the longest wooden piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. The refurbished 152-year-old structure now has a train service, Underwater Observatory and boat-shed style Interpretive Centre housing the Cultural Heritage Museum. The museum brings history to life with interactive technologies.

Museum of the Goldfields

Located in the historical gold rush town of Kalgoorlie, you can step into the shoes of the prospectors of the early 1900s by panning for gold and learning about the city’s mining heritage.

Museum of Geraldton

The Museum explores the heritage of the surrounding Mid West region, from the ancient Yamaji culture, shipwrecks and the area’s natural landscapes and marine environment.

Other regional museums
  • Bunbury Museum and Heritage Centre
  • Broome Museum
  • Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
  • Manjimup Timber Park
  • Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre
  • Wagin Historical Village
  • Albany Convict Gaol Museum
  • The Brig Amity, Albany
  • Old Farm, Strawberry Hill, Albany
  • Discovery Bay (Whale World), Albany
Historical sites

If you’re after a bit of history, places such as Fremantle, Albany and Kalgoorlie are dripping in it. Historical sites that give a glimpse into our colourful past can be found throughout the state. Here are just a few highlights:

The Round House and Whaler’s Tunnel, Fremantle

Built in as a jail to lock up anyone convicted of a crime in the new colony, the small, round stone structure in Fremantle is the oldest surviving public building in WA. It opened in1831, 18 months after European settlement. Below it is the Whalers’ Tunnel, built in 1837 to transport goods between the original port at Bathers Beach the town of Fremantle at Arthur’s Head. Tours are available for both sites.

His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth

The stunning Edwardian Baroque theatre with its ornate dome roof was built in 1904 and is one of the city’s historical landmarks. The auspicious venue in the heart of Perth continues to host large-scale musicals, ballets and operas. It also houses Museum of Performing Arts.

Rottnest Island

Now a popular holiday destination, the pristine beaches on the small island 18km off the coast of Fremantle contrasts with its dark past as an Aboriginal prison and Prisoner of War internment camps during WWI and WWII. You can learn more about the history at venues such as Rottnest Island Museum and Lomas Cottage.

Mundaring Weir

Opening in 1903, the weir is the base for the groundbreaking Goldfields Water Supply Scheme, which supplied vital fresh water to the Eastern Goldfields via the world’s longest pipeline at 560km, which still operates today. The incredible feat in engineering was designed by Irish engineer CY O’Connor, who also constructed Fremantle Harbour.

Albany Town Hall

Opened in 1888, the grand old stone building dominates the main street of Albany with its four-faced clock tower. The venue now houses a gallery and theatre.

Japanese Cemetery, Broome

Broome’s Japanese cemetery gives a glimpse into the pearling town’s fascinating multicultural past. The obelisks with Japanese writing characters mark the graves of more than 900 Japanese pearlers. Many of them were divers who died due to decompression sickness or other illnesses related to dangerous pearl diving industry.

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Guides


Museum of Geraldton

Overlooking the Indian Ocean, the Western Australian Museum — Geraldton celebrates the rich heritage of the land, sea and people of the Mid West region.

  • Museums:Local History,Maritime,State Museums

Details

  • Facilities:Free
  • Open Days:Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday

Description

Overlooking the Indian Ocean, the Museum of Geraldton celebrates the rich heritage of the land, sea and people of the Mid West region.

Enjoy a guided tour through the stories from four major early shipwrecks located in the region, the Batavia, Gilt Dragon, Zuytdorp, and Zeewijk or learn more about the discovery of HMAS Sydney (II), the pride of the fleet. Witness the wrecks of HMAS Sydney (II) and HSK Kormoran as they currently lie, 2,500 metres deep on the ocean floor, in From Great Depths, a moving exhibit and 3D film.

Discover ancient landforms, Yamaji history and culture, and the region’s natural landscapes and marine environment. Find out how more recent European exploration and settlement has developed the Mid-West including the agriculture, fishing, mining and science industries.

The archaeological riches from four Dutch shipwrecks - Batavia, Gilt Dragon, Zuytdorp, and Zeewijk, are revealed in the Shipwrecks Gallery. Visitors can join a guided highlights tour available daily at 11.30am.

The Museum’s shop has a great range of souvenirs, gifts and educational items suited to all ages and interests.

Museum of the Goldfields

Discover the unique role Kalgoorlie has played in WA’s development, both as a centre of mining and its place at the edge of the Nullarbor Plain, at the Museum of the Goldfields

  • Museums:Local History,Mining,State Museums

Details

  • Facilities:Free
  • Open Days:Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday

Description

The Museum of the Goldfields showcases the rich history of the Eastern Goldfields and the city’s mining heritage.

Discover the unique role the town has played in WA’s development, both as a centre of mining and its place at the edge of the Nullarbor Plain.

Explore the largest display of the State’s collection of gold bars and nuggets, step back in time to see how prospectors searched for this precious metal, and learn about the life and hardships faced by mining families during the early 1900s.

Museum of the Great Southern

The Museum of the Great Southern provides exhibitions, public programs, educational programs and information on the unique natural and social history of the region.

  • Museums:Aboriginal,Local History,Natural History,State Museums
  • Open Days/times:10AM - 4PM

Details

  • Facilities:Free,Wheelchair Access
  • Open Days:Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday

Description

Refurbished in July 2010, the refitted the Museum of the Great Southern overlooks picturesque Princess Royal Harbour, on the site of first European settlement in Western Australia.

The Museum of the Great Southern provides exhibitions, public programs, educational programs and information on the unique natural and social history of the region.

The Museum shares the stories of the indigenous Noongar people and the influence of Mokare, a young Noongar warrior, as well as the stories of the early settlers and convicts, and also explores the region's unique natural landscape, flora and fauna.

WA Shipwrecks Museum

The WA Shipwrecks Museum is recognised as the foremost maritime archaeology museum in the southern hemisphere.

  • Museums:Maritime,State Museums,Military
  • Open Days/times:9.30AM - 5PM

Details

  • Open Days:Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday
  • Facilities:Free,Wheelchair Access

Description

The Museum is housed in 1850s-era Commissariat building and has since been restored to its historic glory. Steeped in history, the galleries house hundreds of relics from ships wrecked along WA’s treacherous coastline, including the original timbers from the Batavia (wrecked in 1629), the de Vlamingh Dish, and also countless artefacts from the Dutch shipwrecks Zuytdorp, Zeewijk and Vergulde Draeck.

Western Australian Maritime Museum

The Western Australian Maritime Museum, located in Fremantle's bustling port, is a unique, modern venue overlooking the pristine waters of the Indian Ocean.

  • Museums:State Museums,Maritime,Military
  • Open Days/times:9.30AM - 5PM

Details

  • Facilities:Cafe,Free,Wheelchair Access
  • Open Days:Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday

Description

The Western Australian Maritime Museum, located in Fremantle's bustling port, is a unique, modern venue overlooking the pristine waters of the Indian Ocean. Sweeping glass is the main feature of the building and you can enjoy uninterrupted views of the harbour in four out of the five world-class venue spaces.

The Museum houses several unique galleries that explore WA's maritime relationship. From leisure boats and handcrafted sailing boats to commercial pearl luggers, the Museum inspires visitors to discover WA’s affinity with the ocean.

The Museum is home to the winning America's Cup yacht, Australia II, an Oberon class submarine — HMAS Ovens, Jon Sanders’ Parry Endeavour and many other iconic vessels from WA's maritime history.

The WA Maritime Museum is as versatile as it is spectacular, able to accommodate anything from small groups up to 500 people. There is an opportunity to integrate your event with the museum's displays providing guests with a private viewing of the any fascinating artefacts on show.

The awards-winning building design offers beautiful, unique spaces for our event clients providing ideal venue spaces for weddings, galas, banquets, cocktail functions and corporate events such as conferences, products launches, presentations, meetings and tradeshows.

With a dedicated team of event specialists to assist with all your planning needs and spaces guaranteed to deliver wow-factor, the museum is the perfect location for your next event.

Albany Boat Shed

The building now known as the Albany Boat Shed was originally used in Fremantle to house the construction of a replica of the Dutch explorer Duyfken.

  • Historical Sites:Buildings
  • Museums:Local History

Details

  • Facilities:Free
  • Open Days:Sunday

Description

At the completion of this project the facility was gifted to the City of Albany , in due recognition of the area's rich maritime history, and relocated to the foreshore of picturesque Princess Royal Harbour.

It has since been managed by the Albany Maritime Foundation, which has driven a number of successful wooden boat construction and restoration projects within its walls. Plus, Shed space has been leased to private individuals, for their own wooden boat activities, the building has been home to schools delivering maritime-based educational programs and is now the Foundation is developing the Shed into a tourist destination. 

Albany Convict Gaol

The Albany Convict Gaol (1851) is a museum designed to to tell the story of Albany's convict past. It contains displays relevant to the convict era.

  • Historical Sites:Prisons
  • Museums:Local History
  • Open Days/times:Daily 10am to 4pm

Details

  • Wheelchair Access:Partial access to most areas
  • Open Days:Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday

Description

Fully restored, the Gaol is a complex of men’s cell blocks and some warders' quarters, built in 1852 for Imperial convicts shipped to WA as artisans and skilled labourers.
 
Women’s cells, the Great Hall and more warders' quarters were constructed of brick between 1872 and 1875. At this time the complex was also used as a colonial prison.
 
The Gaol was last used as a police lockup in the Great Depression of the 1930s. Extensive restoration from 1989 to 1996 returned the Gaol's condition to its original state. Cells, warders' quarters and the Great Hall contain displays pertinent to the times and usage of these stark quarters.
 
Facilities
 
    Tours (self-guided, unless by prior arrangement)
    Night tours and venue hire
    Partial wheelchair access to most areas
    Postcards and souvenirs
    Books of historical interest for sale

Albany Historical Society

Historic Albany - Come and Visit our Past!

  • Museums:Local History
  • Historical Sites:Buildings,Prisons

Details

  • Open Days:Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday

Description

The Albany Historical Society administers three of Albany’s premier tourist attractions; the Albany Convict Gaol, Patrick Taylor Cottage the oldest dwelling in WA and the Brig Amity. No visit to Albany can be complete without visiting these three wonderful venues that tell the story of Albany and it’s history.

Open 7 days per week, closed Christmas day.

Albany's Historic Whaling Station

Experience the best day out on the amazing South Coast! History comes alive when you join a tour at Albany's Historic Whaling Station. Enjoy our Australian Wildlife Park & Regional Wildflower Garden.

  • Museums:Local History,Maritime
  • Open Days/times:9AM - 5PM

Details

  • Facilities:Cafe
  • Open Days:Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday,Public Holidays

Description

Visit the only complete whaling station tourism attraction in the world!

Albany’s Historic Whaling Station was the last operating station in Australia and provides a fascinating insight into Albany’s colourful past.  Recognised as a heritage site, the whaling station is an engaging and educational tourism attraction for all ages to enjoy.

Join our knowledgeable tour guides on a complimentary tour through the restored whale processing factory. Find yourself immersed in the sights and sounds of the whaling industry.  Enjoy short films within the converted whale oil tanks.  Climb aboard the Cheynes IV, the world’s only preserved Whalechaser ship; see our giant blue whale skeleton; enjoy our world-renowned marine animal art collection and view our precious scrimshaw art.  Visit our museum exhibits filled with authentic, whaling artefacts and memorabilia or relax in our café overlooking one of Albany’s most picturesque bays. 

Our unique, biodiverse location is also home to over a 100,000 species of native plants which are now displayed in our Regional Wildflower Garden.  Families can enjoy free BBQ’s in the gardens and learn about our friendly collection of native animals at our Australian Wildlife Park.  Join us for a memorable day on The Amazing South Coast.

Aravina Estate Sports Car Gallery

Our Sports Car Gallery is ever changing with a eclectic collection of car and motorcycles for you to browse through on your visit at Aravina Estate.

  • Open Days/times:Open 7 days
  • Museums:Motoring

Details

  • Facilities:Cafe,Free,Wheelchair Access
  • Open Days:Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday

Description

In addition to the cellar door and restaurant, Aravina boats a car gallery full of muscle cars, vintage cars and motorcyles.

Is your car club looking to host a state or nationals meeting or provide a ‘Show 'n Shine’ opportunity for the public? Get in contact with Aravina Estate to discuss your function in more detail.

Army Museum of Western Australia

The Army Museum tells exciting stories of Western Australians in the Army and the Army in Western Australia through tanks, guns, medals, uniforms and art.

  • Museums:Local History,Military
  • Open Days/times:10.30AM - 1PM

Details

  • Facilities:Wheelchair Access
  • Open Days:Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday

Description

History is brought to life through dioramas, soundscapes and audio-visual at the Army Museum of Western Australia.

 

Several impressive galleries display various periods and themes. These are located within the main museum building. There is a substantial collection of vehicles, artillery field guns and other military hardware located around the perimeter of the parade ground outside the main museum building. And in some of the adjacent sheds vehicles are also on display.

 

The museum's collection includes a substantial amount of archival material in the way of documents, letters, diaries, photographs and art work. The reference library is accessible by arrangement.

 

Download our app and enjoy a self-guided audio tour.

 

We offer school programs in line with the national curriculum and can tailor them to your needs.

 

Visit our website to find out more armymuseumwa.com.au

ArtGeo Cultural Complex

Immerse yourself in art, history and architecture at the ArtGeo Cultural Complex! Walk through the heritage listed buildings and feel the history between their walls.

  • Historical Sites:Buildings,Prisons
  • Galleries:Sculpture,Art Gallery,Ceramics,Craft,Jewellery,Painting,Mixed Media,Artist Studio,Public Art Gallery
  • Open Days/times:Daily 10am to 4pm
  • Museums:Local History

Details

  • Open Days:Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday
  • Facilities:Cafe,Free

Description

The City of Busselton’s ArtGeo Cultural Complex is a creative hub for the visual and performing arts housed in heritage-listed buildings on Queen Street, close to Busselton’s much-loved foreshore. Once linked to the Jetty, the heritage-listed Courthouse, built in 1860, is one of the oldest buildings in Busselton and played an important role in its settlement history.

Walk through the buildings and feel the history within their walls.Explore the gaol cells and imagine being locked up for 14 days for disorderly conduct in a public place behind one of the heavy wooden doors.

The Courthouse Gift Shop reflects the transition from colonial courthouse to modern-day art house. Once inside, you'll discover a tempting range of high quality locally crafted art, jewellery, pottery, cards, photography and woodwork.

Set in the rear courtyard of the complex, there are two artist in residence studios featuring ceramic artist Tracie Anderson and jewellery designer Nalda Hoskins. The general public are welcome to visit these studios, which were once stables, to see the artists at work.

The cultural precinct is also home to the Busselton Art Society, the Busselton Woodturners' Association and the children's theatre group Acting Up.A sheltered courtyard, bush food garden and life-size bronze sculptures augment the ambience of the precinct.

Open daily 10am to 4pm, free entry. 

Augusta Historical Museum

Established in 1979, the Augusta Historical Museum offers visitors a comprehensive display documenting the rich history of Augusta and Districts since settlement in 1830.

  • Museums:Local History
  • Open Days/times:1pm - 4PM

Details

  • Open Days:Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday,Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday

Description

A fascinating collection of artefacts, photographs and books documenting the rich history of the Augusta-Margaret River Region. Displays include details of families involved in the settlement of Augusta in 1830, which was the third European settlement in Western Australia, artefacts from local shipwrecks, from the MC Davies timber empire (1880s to 1915); the local environment, personal effects of early settlers, details of the 1920s group settlements, commemorative china, coins and medals, garments from various eras, church organs and the whale rescue events which put Augusta on world news headlines.

Aviation Heritage Museum of Western Australia

The aim of the Museum is to promote and preserve our Aviation Heritage for the enjoyment and understanding of our past in the air for today's and future generations.

  • Museums:Aviation
  • Open Days/times:10AM - 4PM

Details

  • Open Days:Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday

Description

The Museum is housed in two huge pavillions and contains a magnificent display of 30 military and civilian aircraft aero engines, models and other aviation memorabilia.

Azelia Ley Homestead Museum

Visitors to the Azelia Ley Homestead Museum can see a vast collection of furniture, clothing, photographs, paintings, toys, memorabilia, historical artefacts and much more

  • Open Days/times:Sunday afternoon 1:30pm to 4:00pm | Other times by appointment
  • Museums:Local History

Details

  • Open Days:Sunday,By Appointment Only

Description

The Azelia Ley Homestead Museum is situated in Manning Park, Hamilton Hill and is open to the general public on Sunday afternoons from 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm. The Museum is also open to schools and other groups on weekdays by appointment.

Manning Park is accessible all year round for organized events, family day-outs and social gatherings. When the Museum is open there are always two members of the Historical Society of Cockburn in attendance.

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