Would you and the kids like to learn more about Western Australia’s rich maritime history? The WA Shipwrecks Museum in Fremantle is a great place to start and is home to a number of shipwreck artefacts and exhibits dedicated to marine life in WA.
Located just next to Fisherman’s Wharf in Fremantle and housed in a 19th Century Commissariat Building, the Shipwrecks Museum is a fascinating look at some of the ships and relics that have washed up on the state's hazardous coastline.
Along with the permanent exhibits housed at the Shipwreck Museum, young children are invited to take part in several activities just for kids, including A Trek Through Time, Pondering Pirates and Now and Then.
I recently visited the museum with my 20-month old toddler, who is still a bit young to take part in any self-guided activities. She found the wheelchair ramp was the most fascinating area of the museum – thank goodness for doting grandpas who have already visited the museum several times and are happy to watch her while mum learns something new.
School aged and kindy kids will probably gain the most value out of the museum through the self-guided activities on offer. A Trek Through Time is self-guided walking trail aimed at school kids in years four to six and takes place between the Shipwreck Museum and the Maritime Museum (located at Victoria Quay.) This activity, which is designed for groups of three and five students with an adult supervisor, takes between 25 and 40 minutes and will give kids an understanding of what life in the area was like some 200 years ago.
Now and Then is an activity suitable for kindy aged kids to children in year two. The idea is to look through a selection of common, modern day items and then search the museum for similar items from days gone by, comparing the two items to see if and how they have changed. Bookings are required, and the activity takes approximately 20 minutes.
Pondering Pirates is another activity suitable for kindy kids to year twos. They will meet finger puppets Comparing Colin, Wondering Will, Opinionated Olly and Factual Fred. With the help of the characters, the children will focus on the museum artefacts and gain an understanding of the difference between fact and opinion. Like the Now and Then activity, bookings are essential and the activity takes about 30 minutes.
If your kids are a bit older, they may appreciate looking at the museum relics and artefacts, including the fascinating history of the Batavia Mutiny, which took place on the Abrolhos Islands. The Batavia Gallery is home to a large piece of the VOC ship Batavia and a real life skeleton – a victim of the terrible mutiny. There is an observation deck from which you can view the Batavia from above.
Other exhibitions at the museum include the Xantho Gallery, dedicated to a restored steam engine which spent over 100 years under the water, plus learn about relics from a number of Dutch shipwrecks.
For more great child-friendly museums in Perth, read on here.
Essential Information WA Shipwrecks Museum
Address: Cliff Street, Fremantle
Phone: 1300 134 081
Cost: Free entry ($5 suggested donation.)
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 9:30am to 5pm, ANZAC Day 1pm to 5pm, closed some public holidays.