This is a tiny museum, just 5 minutes walk from Circular Quay. A visit will take less than an hour. Entry is free so if you are in this part of the city, it can be worth a look but I wouldn’t go out of my way.
The highlight here is a display of the 11 ships of the First Fleet. This small section is really good. The models are detailed and we were intrigued by the stories of the First Fleeters, especially the group of enterprising convicts who set up a coin counterfeiting ring below the decks and under the noses of the officers.
The other point of interest is that the museum’s located on the site of the original Government House. Nothing remains of the structure. Instead, a white outline in the forecourt and the ground floor shows the outline of the former building, like a ghost of where it once stood.
A model on the second floor shows what the building would’ve looked like - a sprawling white colonial house. Remnants of china, glassware and pottery found in the ground and piping are also on display.
However the museum is short on artefacts and lacks substance. It is heavily reliant on videos and temporary exhibitions. It all just feels a little bare and what’s there, feels padded out.
I’d been keen to see a new temporary exhibition on Barangaroo, but there was disappointingly little information on Barangaroo, the woman. Instead, it was an interpretative display, themed around Barangaroo rather than being about Barangaroo herself.
Facilities include a kids’ indoor play area on the top level and a cafe, bathrooms and bookstore on the ground floor.
Overall, this is not a go-to destination. There’s just not enough here to plan a day around. However if you are in the area, it’s worth swinging by and having a look.