RAN Heritage Centre

RAN Heritage Centre Main Building
RAN Heritage Centre Main Entrance
RAN Heritage Centre Lobby
Main Gallery Entrance
Time Line and Ceremonial Silver Drums Display
Business on Great Waters
Naval Technology
The 'Rabaul' Gun
Small Arms
Mezzanine Level
The Uniform
The 'Run Ashore'
Navy 'Hard Hat' Diving Equipment
'The Boys'
The WRANS 1941-1985
'The Mess Deck'
Sealed Patterns
Personal Stories
Salthorse Café (Outdoor)
8-inch Gun Barrel – HMAS Australia (II)
Surface Torpedo Launcher
Ikara ASW Weapon System
Model: Garden Island 1940
Half Ship Models
Shipwright Tool Display

Example Frame

From the Director's Desk

RAN Heritage Centre brochure.
RAN Heritage Centre brochure
PDF : 736.15 KB

Since the Naval Heritage Centre opened in 2005 over 100,000 visitors, including school groups and private tours have enjoyed and experienced the displays. 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 BBQs. I have appreciated greatly all the kind remarks on the exhibition and surrounding grounds offered by the Heritage Centre visitors.

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 emails 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, ships’ histories can be found on this 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.

Peter Cole
Commander, RANR
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 mementoes representing the developments and events in Navy over more than 100 years.

The displays

Visitors to the RAN Heritage Centre will enjoy 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.

'The Bridge'

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.

'The Periscope'

Get a submariner's view of Sydney Harbour through our fully operational attack periscope from an Oberon class submarine.


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.

A Century of the Silent Service

Explore Navy’s century of submarines beginning with the WWI deployments of AE1 and AE2, the Royal Navy squadron, the diesel electric Oberons and the 21st century Collins class.

The RAN's Indigenous Heritage

We have a long and proud history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service. This display explores this service and the recognition of Australia’s first people.

Facilities and services

A range of facilities and services that are available to the public beyond the exhibition galleries themselves.

Salthorse Café

The Salthorse Café is open Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 3:30pm except for Australia Day, Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Located with the Heritage Centre, the Salthorse Café is run by Navy Canteens.

The Salthorse Café provides all visitors with the opportunity to enjoy a 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.

Salthorse Café.
Salthorse Café.
Salthorse Café's outdoor area.
Salthorse Café's outdoor area.

All enquiries regarding the Salthorse Café or catering should be directed to:

Mr Iain McAndrew
Navy Canteens Senior Business Manager
Mobile: 0477 477 857
Email: iain.mcandrew@navycanteens.com.au

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 Manager. Email heritage.centre@defence.gov.au.

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° 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.

Disabled access

The RAN Heritage Centre and the Public Access Precinct have been designed to allow full access to the disabled.

Opening times

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.


How to get there

Visitor access to the RAN Heritage Centre and the Garden Island Public Access Precinct is by Sydney Ferry.

Due to ongoing construction, ferries will only be running to Garden Island on Sundays.

Bus tours

Organised 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. To organise a tour for your organisation, contact Centre staff via email, heritage.centre@defence.gov.au.

Sydney ferry

In collaboration with Sydney Ferries Corporation, pedestrian visitors to the RAN Heritage Centre arrive by Sydney Ferry using the Circular Quay to Double Bay route. The ferries will stop at the Garden Island Wharf during RAN Heritage Centre opening hours only.

Due to ongoing construction, ferries will only be running to Garden Island on Sundays.

All pedestrian visitors are to depart the Public Access Precinct by the last ferry each day.

For information on current ferry times, please visit https://transportnsw.info/timetables. 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.


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.

General enquiries

Entry fees

Entry to all areas of the RAN Heritage Centre is free of charge. EFTPOS facilities are available at the Salthorse Café.

Contact us

Postal Address
  RAN Heritage Centre
  Locked Bag 7005
  Liverpool NSW 1871
Office Telephone 02 9359 2003
Office Fax 02 9359 2005
Reception/Security Telephone 02 9359 2611
Café Telephone 02 9359 2023
Functions Telephone 0477 477 857
Email heritage.centre@defence.gov.au


CMDR Peter Cole, RANR
Navy Canteens Senior Business Manager Mr Iain McAndrew
Email iain.mcandrew@navycanteens.com.au

Related websites

RAN Fleet Air Arm Museum
RAN History (ship histories) https://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/
National Museum of the Royal Navy (UK) http://www.nmrn.org.uk/
Royal Navy Submarine Museum (UK) http://www.submarine-museum.co.uk/
National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy http://www.navymuseum.co.nz/
Naval History & Heritage Command (US) http://www.history.navy.mil/