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A colourful sea exhibition
Photograph: Supplied/Australian National Maritime Museum

Wonderwater is the ultimate playground for curious kids this school holidays

Here are four fun and family-friendly events to explore at the Maritime Museum this summer

By Melissa Woodley for Time Out in association with Australian National Maritime Museum

Summer is officially here and while we’re always up for some fun in the sun, there are plenty of ways to cool off indoors at the Australian National Maritime Museum. As a special school holiday treat, Sydney’s landmark sea museum has put together its most packed program of events and activities to date. You can head to Wonderwater from December 22 until February 4 to discover a new immersive Octopus Garden, construct your own rare Lego sea creature, play in the museum’s dedicated kids’ activity space and explore the many underwater exhibitions. You can book a Wonderwater See It All ticket starting from $15, with free entry for members and children under four. Check out the top family-friendly things to do with your kids this summer.

Family-friendly events at Wonderwater

Step into the shoes (or legs) of one of the ocean’s most mysterious creatives in this huge immersive exhibition created in collaboration with Junior Major and with artwork by Ink Hunter. Only popping up at the Maritime for a limited run this summer, the new interactive Octopus Garden is your chance to discover more about the eight-legged creatures’ fascinating behaviours including their shapeshifting abilities and surprising survival techniques. 

Challenge the kids to find this magical artwork, which is tucked away in a semi-hidden nook of the Maritime Museum. Created by award-winning artists Rosie Deacon and Emily Crockford, this colourful exhibition is a tribute to Bondi’s ‘Mermaid Rock’ and the legend it tells of two bronze-coloured mermaids who washed up there 50 years after the rock was formed in 1912. Peer through the portholes to discover the colourful creations that lie beneath the surface of this watery mermaid’s garden.

Dive into the enchanting underwater world of the Great Southern Reef – one of Australia’s lesser-known, but most incredible ecosystems – in this fully interactive Lego exhibition. You and your little ones can join the Great Southern Reef Foundation and Ryan ‘The Brickman’ McNaught on this Lego building adventure by constructing your very own rare and fascinating sea creature. There are eight animals to pick from including red handfish, weedy seadragons and striped pyjama squids. After building your Lego creature, you can display it in the shared reef space in the centre of the room. 

Round up your excursion to the Maritime Museum with special summer holiday craft activities in the dedicated kids’ creative space. Every day from 10.30am to 4.30pm (except December 25, 26 and 27), the Museum will host drop-in Ocean Superhero sessions where you can create your own octopus hats, puppets, sculptures and badges. Dressing up as your favourite aquatic creature is encouraged and will give you extra superpowers to take part in the water play and boat racing outside. Those who need some time out after a big day of exploring the Museum can cosy up in the quiet coral reef reading zone and learn fascinating underwater facts to impress their classmates when school returns. 

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