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South Australian Maritime Museum

Climb aboard historic ships, see antique nautical instruments and hear of tales of Australia’s past dependence on the vast seas.

Climb aboard a historic ship to see nautical artefacts, examine maritime memorabilia and discover Port Adelaide’s history as a seafaring community. Find out about British colonial expansion into the Southern Hemisphere and learn about life at sea.

The collection at the South Australian Maritime Museum began in 1872 and is the oldest nautical collection in the country. Almost 20,000 artefacts and 20,000 images tell of the maritime heritage of South Australia and of life on the southern oceans. Many of the significant artifacts are from the voyages of Matthew Flinders, who was the first person to sail around Australia and identify it as a continent, and Nicolas Baudin, the French commander who charted the South Australian coast in 1802.

Walk on the decks of 25 vessels in the Vessels Collection. Step onto surfboats and sharpies, take a seat in dinghies and canoes, and walk through larger vessels such as the iron-hulled Nelcebee, and the wooden Annie Watt. 

Memorabilia from the 1800s include model ships, ship portraits and nautical instruments such as quadrants, octants chronometers, compasses and station pointers. See artefacts from the HMCS Protector; learn about the coastal traders who came from Europe in 1836 and the ketches they sailed that were adapted for the southern coast.

Admire the 17 ornamental figureheads that decorate the bow of a vessel and discover the fate of ships that never made it back to shore. 

In the Lighthouse Collection, climb to the top of the Port Adelaide Lighthouse, which shone its first light in 1869 and discover artefacts such as iron plate lanterns and navigational aids.

Find out about the country’s largest 19th-century shipping company, the Adelaide Steamship Company, and its trading of wool, wheat and minerals. See the company’s ship fittings, crockery and furnishings. View tickets, ship plans and documents, wage books, uniforms and furnishings. 

The museum is open daily (except Christmas Day and Good Friday), with tiered prices. It is located in the centre of historic Port Adelaide and is accessible via train, bus or taxi, and free parking is available on the surrounding streets.


Guide to Exploring around South Australian Maritime Museum


Map

Best Lodging Options Near South Australian Maritime Museum

See all 912 Properties near South Australian Maritime Museum
Quest Port Adelaide NT$2,899
Quest Port Adelaide

Quest Port Adelaide

36 North Parade, Fishermen's Wharf, Port Adelaide, SA
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated in Port Adelaide, this apartment building is within a 10-minute walk of South Australian Maritime Museum and Australian Museum of Childhood. Semaphore Jetty and The Semaphore Waterslide Complex are also within 2 mi (3 km). Port Adelaide Station is 12 minutes by foot and Port Adelaide Ethelton Station is 12 minutes.

    Port Adelaide Backpackers NT$1,145
    Port Adelaide Backpackers

    Port Adelaide Backpackers

    24 Nile St, Port Adelaide, SA
       
      2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Situated on the waterfront, this hostel is within a 10-minute walk of South Australian Maritime Museum and Australian Museum of Childhood. Semaphore Jetty and The Semaphore Waterslide Complex are also within 2 mi (3 km). Port Adelaide Station is 11 minutes by foot and Port Adelaide Ethelton Station is 12 minutes.

      Port Adelaide Harbourside Home
      Port Adelaide Harbourside Home

      Port Adelaide Harbourside Home

      9 Sarnia Way, Port Adelaide, SA
         
        3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

        Situated in Port Adelaide, this vacation home is within a 15-minute walk of Australian Museum of Childhood and South Australian Maritime Museum. The Semaphore Waterslide Complex and Semaphore Jetty are also within 2 mi (3 km). Port Adelaide Ethelton Station is 8 minutes by foot and Port Adelaide Station is 14 minutes.

        Ethelton Serviced Apartments
        Ethelton Serviced Apartments

        Ethelton Serviced Apartments

        6 Warrawee Road, Ethelton, SA
           
          3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated near the beach, this apartment building is within 1 mi (2 km) of South Australian Maritime Museum and Australian Museum of Childhood. The Semaphore Waterslide Complex and Semaphore Jetty are also within 2 mi (3 km). Port Adelaide Ethelton Station is only a 4-minute walk and Port Adelaide Glanville Station is 10 minutes.

          Nightcap at Exeter Hotel NT$2,078
          Nightcap at Exeter Hotel

          Nightcap at Exeter Hotel

          152 Semaphore Road, Exeter, SA
             
            3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated in Exeter, this apartment building is within 1 mi (2 km) of Semaphore Jetty and The Semaphore Waterslide Complex. South Australian Maritime Museum and Australian Museum of Childhood are also within 2 mi (3 km). Port Adelaide Glanville Station is 7 minutes by foot and Port Adelaide Peterhead Station is 13 minutes.

            Semaphore Splash Apartments
            Semaphore Splash Apartments

            Semaphore Splash Apartments

            59-63 Semaphore Road, Semaphore, SA
               
              4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

              Situated near the airport, this luxury apartment building is within a 10-minute walk of Semaphore Jetty and The Semaphore Waterslide Complex. Westfield West Lakes and Henley Beach are also within 6 mi (10 km). Port Adelaide Peterhead Station is 13 minutes by foot and Port Adelaide Glanville Station is 14 minutes.

              Discovery Parks – Adelaide Beachfront NT$1,717
              Discovery Parks – Adelaide Beachfront

              Discovery Parks – Adelaide Beachfront

              349 Military Rd, Semaphore Park, SA
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Offering direct access to the beach, this Semaphore Park campground is in the historical district and within 3 mi (5 km) of Semaphore Jetty and South Australian Maritime Museum. Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Adelaide Entertainment Centre are also within 9 mi (15 km). Port Adelaide Ethelton Station is 26 minutes by foot.

                Largs Pier Hotel Motel NT$2,816
                Largs Pier Hotel Motel

                Largs Pier Hotel Motel

                198 The Esplanade, Largs Bay, SA
                   
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated in Largs Bay, this beach hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of The Semaphore Waterslide Complex and Semaphore Jetty. South Australian Maritime Museum and Australian Museum of Childhood are also within 3 mi (5 km). Port Adelaide Largs Station is 7 minutes by foot and Port Adelaide Peterhead Station is 16 minutes.