RAN Heritage Centre
From the Director's Desk
Since the Navy Heritage Centre opened in 2005 over 100,000 visitors, including school groups and private tours have enjoyed and experienced the ‘In Peace and War’ exhibition. As well as sampling the fine fare offered by the Salthorse Café, with its magnificent Sydney Harbour view as a backdrop, visitors have enjoyed the hidden gem that is the quiet gardens and grassed areas behind the Heritage Centre for picnics and BBQ’s. I have appreciated greatly all the kind remarks on the exhibition and surrounding grounds offered by the Heritage Centre visitors.
The installation of the ‘HMAS Sydney Found’, ‘National Legacy’ and ‘Rare Books’ exhibits with items not seen by the public before have been well received by our patrons. The conning tower of the Japanese Midget Submarine, preserved and on display along with the documentary video of the attack on Sydney Harbour, is also well received by our visitors, many returning with friends and family.
I would like to thank ex-serving members and their families who have generously donated personal items to the Naval Heritage Collection. Although the Collection has criteria for accepting donations we are always seeking items that will add further to the story of the RAN. The Naval Heritage Collection does not purchase heritage items. It does however offer tax-deductibility for donated items valued under the Commonwealth’s Cultural Gifts Program.
I have received many e-mails requesting information on the service history of a relative or details on a previous ship of the RAN. The best source for information on the service records of ex-members is held by the Australian National Archives whereas the best information on ships’ histories is held by the Navy History Directorate at Navy’s Sea Power Centre in Canberra which can be contacted through the You do not have access to view this node of the Navy website.
The RAN Heritage Centre and its sister museums, the Fleet Air Arm Museum and Museum of HMAS Cerberus have become important institutions through which the story of Australia’s Navy is available to the people it serves seven days per week. I would encourage all to take the opportunity to visit your Navy’s museums and spend an enjoyable and interesting day with us.
Naval Heritage Collection
What to See
The RAN Heritage Centre exhibits the physical history of Australia's Navy. Displays range from large weapon systems to personal momentos representing the developments and events in Navy over more than 100 years.
Visitors to the RAN Heritage Centre will be able to enjoy seeing, touching and listening to a range of displays that provide an experience of Navy.
The Battle of Sydney
View the conning tower of one of the Japanese midget submarines that attacked Sydney Harbour in World War II and watch the battle unfold on interactive Audio/Visual. See the Boom Boat that first raised the alarm on 31 May 1942.
'In Which We Serve'
View a variety of items from the ships and battles of Navy's history. Artefacts include those from the colonial Navies, Sydney/Emden - Navy's first victory at sea, the struggles of World War II, the Cold War and the Persian Gulf.
'A Sailors Life For Me'
Gain a greater understanding of what it was and is like to live at sea in a warship. View a Mess Deck from World War II (hammocks and all), see the traditions and pastimes of Navy and how they reinforce the spirit of a fighting Service.
Stand in a simulated open bridge of a World War II destroyer. Touch original equipment that was used over 60 years ago. You to can be a Captain, Officer of the Watch, Quartermaster or Yeoman.
The Professions of Navy
See how Navy's people have 'done the job' at sea over the years. From gunnery to stores, from navigation to aviation, all are included in this display of how the 'profession' has changed and developed over a century of naval warfare.
Get a submariner's view of Sydney Harbour through the only fully operational attack periscope available for public use in Australia.
Naval Technology & Ordnance
See how technological developments have been applied to the naval environment. Precision instruments for navigating and gunnery and a range of ordnance used in naval warfare from shells to torpedoes and missiles.
'Boats and Dockyards'
Without the dockyards, Navy goes nowhere. Artefacts include original workers tools from the early 20th Century and a range of items that track the history of warship construction and repair in Australia.
HMAS Sydney Found
The 2008 discovery of the HMAS Sydney (II) and HSK Kormoran wrecks ended one of the greatest maritime mysteries. The Sydney Found exhibit contains poignant reminders of Sydney and her crew of 645 – the most grievous loss in the Navy’s long history.
A National Legacy
View unique artefacts presented to the Navy over the last 100 years. Items include a sledge from Captain R.F.Scott’s tragic expedition to the Antarctic, a silver plate from Lord Nelson’s Copenhagen setting and the plotting table used by Captain Cook during his second and third voyages in HMS Resolution.
A range of rare and important first editions from the 18th and 19th centuries are displayed. Books displayed include: Flinder’s ‘Terra Australis’ (1814); Cook’s ‘Voyages of Discovery’ (1781); Steel’s ‘Handbook on Rigging and Seamanship’ (1789); and Philip’s Voyage to Botany Bay’ (1789) – the first book published about the foundation of European settlement of Australia.
Facilities and Services
A range of facilities and services that are available to the public beyond the exhibition galleries themselves.
The Salthorse Café provides all visitors with the opportunity to enjoy a light meal, coffee or cold drink on a unique foreshore of Sydney Harbour. Surrounded by artefacts of Navy's heritage, watch the boats pass by and the changing moods of the harbour in this most idyllic location.
Heritage Centre - Function Hire
The Open Gallery within the RAN Heritage Centre can be hired as a function venue. All functions are held outside the normal opening hours of the Centre and the highest level of function possible is a Cocktail Party for 120. For further details contact the RAN Heritage Centre Functions Manager.
Yours to Enjoy
The RAN Heritage Centre is a unique facility within one of the most historic and beautiful locations on the harbour and is available for the enjoyment of all.
Public Access Precinct
The RAN Heritage Centre is located within the Garden Island Public Access Precinct. The Public Access Precinct has a number of relics from Garden Island's past including the earliest known graffiti in Australia (January 1788) from when Fredrick Meredith, a First Fleet sailor, carved his initials into a sandstone rock - and they are still there.
The Public Access Precinct also includes fortifications from the colonial period, the first grass tennis court in Australia (not for public use), a heritage rose garden, 150 year old trees, beautiful grass verges, and picnic tables and seating.
The ex-Main Signal Building, which once controlled the movement of naval vessels in and out of the harbour, has had its roof converted to a viewing platform. From there visitors can enjoy a spectacular 360 degree view of Sydney Harbour.
Where Is It?
The RAN Heritage Centre is located within the Public Access Precinct on the northern end of Garden Island. The Centre is housed in two heritage-listed buildings: The Gun Mounting Workshop (1922) and the Boatshed (1890).
The Public Access Precinct is itself of heritage significance and includes historic gardens, heritage locations and has panoramic views of Sydney Harbour.
The RAN Heritage Centre and the Public Access Precinct have been designed to allow full access to the disabled.
The RAN Heritage Centre is open from 9:30am to 3:30pm daily except for Australia Day, Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day.
Easter Opening Hours
The RAN Heritage Centre will be closed on Friday 10th April and Sunday 12th April, and open as normal on Saturday 11th April and Monday 13th April.
How To Get There
There are two ways for a visitor to access the RAN Heritage Centre and the Garden Island Public Access Precinct: Sydney Ferry and Bus.
Bus tour groups that visit the RAN Heritage Centre are permitted to transit Garden Island Dockyard in their own bus. There is no bus transport provided by Navy. Additional directions and maps are available from Google Maps.
In collaboration with Sydney Ferries Corporation, pedestrian visitors to the RAN Heritage Centre arrive by Sydney Ferry using the Circular Quay to Watson’s Bay route. The ferries will stop at the Garden Island Wharf during RAN Heritage Centre opening hours only. All pedestrian visitors are to depart the Public Access Precinct by the last ferry each day.
For information on current ferry times, please visit www.131500.com.au. Passengers are advised to check wharf indicators on the day of travel and to be ready for boarding 5 minutes prior to the departure time. Additional time is required to purchase your ticket.
Tour bus operators are to ensure passengers do not disembark until inside the RAN Heritage Centre precinct.
Due to security requirements there is NO pedestrian access or private vehicle access to or from the RAN Heritage Centre via HMAS Kuttabul Garden Island Dockyard.
Private vessels are NOT permitted to enter or anchor within the buoyed area marking the extent of Naval Waters around Garden Island. Private vessels are not permitted to land passengers or tie-up at the Garden Island Wharf.
Entry to all areas of the RAN Heritage Centre, including the Special Exhibition Gallery, are free of charge.
EFTPOS facilities are available at the Salthorse Café.
RAN Heritage Centre
Locked Bag 12
Pyrmont NSW 2009
|Curator Telephone||02 9359 2003|
|Curator Fax||02 9359 2005|
|Reception/Security Telephone||02 9359 2611|
|Café/Functions Manager Telephone||02 9359 2023|
|Director||CMDR Alex Hawes|
|Café/Functions Manager||Mr Brett Ednie|
|RAN Fleet Air Arm Museum||http://www.navy.gov.au/faam|
|Australian Navy History (ship histories)||http://www.navy.gov.au/history/|
|Australian War Memorial||http://www.awm.gov.au/|
|Australian National Maritime Museum||http://www.anmm.gov.au/|
|Imperial War Museum (UK)||http://www.iwm.org.uk/|
|Royal Naval Museum (UK)||http://www.royalnavalmuseum.org/|
|Royal Navy Submarine Museum (UK)||http://www.rnsubs.co.uk/|
|Royal New New Zealand Navy Museum||http://www.navymuseum.mil.nz/|
|United States Navy Historical Center (US)||http://www.history.navy.mil/|