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The Museum’s Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Centre is a fun, immersive play and learn space for children of all abilities from birth to 6 years.

Event Create and Curate workshop Time: 10.30am–12pm Date: Saturday, June 15, 2024 Ticket information: Costs apply, bookings essential Ticket information: Book tickets

Celebrate the launch of the new book How Mother Kangaroo Got Her Pouch, by Rebecca Beetson and illustrated by Paul Lalo, in this interactive children’s workshop. Listen to the story then learn about First Nations symbols and other stories before creating and displaying your own artwork. Recommended for children aged 3–6 years.

The Discovery Centre tells five stories from Australian history, each one encouraging different types of play.

Discovery Centre play space 1:58

Discover the five stories through hands-on and immersive activities, virtual storytelling, animation and imaginative play.

Three children sit and talk in a large cushioned pod

Pretend to be a joey in a pouch

In our quiet reading area children can snuggle up and pretend to be a joey in a soft, warm pouch.

They can choose books from our library or listen to the story of Wambuwuny the grey kangaroo.

The space includes the grassland bunker, a secret nook and several large pods, one of which is wheelchair accessible.

Squeeze through the woolly rollers

Meet Chris, the world’s woolliest sheep. He was lost in the bush for about five years before he was found, rescued and shorn.

No one really knows what Chris got up to on his adventure but children can imagine what he might have done when they set off on their own journey, wandering through the bush maze and squeezing or wheeling through woolly rollers.

Children can make their way to the shearing shed where they can create patterns on the giant knitting board before sliding down the shearing chute and onto the next adventure.

Did you know?

The fleece from Chris the sheep holds the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s heaviest sheep fleece, weighing 41.1 kilograms! See it on display in our Landmarks gallery.

Learn more about the world's woolliest sheep.

Discover the story of Gelam, a boy who became a dugong

Learn the Torres Strait Islander creation story of Gelam, a boy who transformed into a dugong.

Children can help baby turtles make the hazardous journey from their nests to the ocean.

Sit on the ocean floor and watch as different sea creatures travel past. Build a fish trap or collect and sort shells before your next nautical adventure – with Matthew Flinders' cat, Trim.

A child plays in the Discovery Centre play space at the National Museum of Australia.

Try out the wheelchair-accessible rocking deck

Trim was a cat who sailed around Australia with Matthew Flinders and Bungaree.

In this space you'll find ropes to climb, a wheelchair-accessible rocking deck, telescopes, a ship’s wheel and an upper deck to explore.

Children playing dress-ups in the Bunyip Billabong area of the Discovery Centre

Play dress-ups in the bunyip billabong

The bunyip is a legendary Australian creature. In the billabong, children can use a range of dress-ups – tails, wings, fins, scales and furs – and become their own mythical creature.

Frolic under the big trees, watch the shadowy projections and listen to the sounds of the water, frogs and animals.

Sessions

Daily sessions (75 minutes)
9.15am, 10.45am, 12.15pm, 2pm, 3.30pm

Bookings essential

Book now

Cost

$10 per child
$5 per adult
$30 for a family ticket (2 adults and 3 children or one adult and 4 children)

Children must be supervised by an adult

Friends play free

Entry is free for all adults and children with Friends memberships.

Friends also enjoy discounts on some Discovery Centre events and programs.

Regular programs

Mini makers: Explore art, science and games through hands-on learning and play in the mini makers corner.
Daily, self-directed and free with valid entry to the Discovery Centre.

Pyramid making: Explore the themes of ancient Egypt in this hands-on activity for our youngest budding archaeologists. Toddlers will explore and experiment with a range of materials and textures to shape their own sandy pyramids.
Suitable for children aged 2–6 years. Wednesdays from 10.30–11am during ACT school term. Free with entry to the Discovery Centre. Children must be supervised by an adult.

Story time: Enjoy free 15-minute story time sessions in the workshop next to the Discovery Centre.
Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10.30am during ACT school term. Drop-in, places are limited.

Community days

The Museum holds regular free community days in the Discovery Centre. Check our calendar and follow us on social media for details. Bookings essential.

In the play space

This space is designed for intergenerational learning. Children must be supervised by their adult carers at all times.

Children’s shoes must be taken off before entering the designated play space. Socks can remain on.

Photography, food and drinks

Photography is permitted for personal use only. Please be mindful of the privacy of others.

Food and drinks can be consumed in the Cafe, Garden of Australian Dreams and the Discovery Centre foyer. Food and drinks are not permitted in the play space.

Parents room, lockers

A parents room is available with change tables, microwave and a children’s toilet.

Breastfeeding is welcome in the space and all areas of the Museum.

Personal items should not be left unattended. Lockers are available at no charge. The Museum is not liable for lost or stolen property.

Cancellations, refunds

The Museum reserves the right to cancel at any time. In the event that we must cancel, we will issue a refund.

If you are feeling unwell, please stay at home. Email us at information@nma.gov.au to organise a ticket refund.

The Discovery Centre strives to be an accessible space for all children and their carers. For more information contact programs@nma.gov.au

Directions
  1. From the main entrance, go past the Information Desk towards the orange ‘Galleries’ sign at the far end of the Gandel Atrium.
  2. You will come to glass sliding doors. Before you enter, there is a lift to your left. Through the doors  are stairs going down to your right. Go down the stairs or use the lift. If using the lift, go to the Lower Ground floor and continue up the ramp.
  3. Turn left and pass through glass sliding doors.
  4. Turn immediately right and pass through another set of glass sliding doors outside to the Garden of Australian Dreams.
  5. On the far side of the Garden is a white structure.
  6. The entrance of the Discovery Centre is to the left and just behind the white structure.
Neurodiversity

A visual story is a guide that helps visitors.

This visual story tells you what to expect when you visit the Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Centre at the National Museum of Australia. Our staff are here to assist you and ensure you have a great experience.

Quiet hours

Quiet hours with reduced noise and sensory experiences are held in the Discovery Centre from 3.30–4.45pm on the first Tuesday of the month. Bookings essential, costs apply.

Our picture books build on the innovation of the Discovery Centre, bringing Australian stories based on the five areas of the play and learn space to children and their carers. The series encourages conversations around place, identity and Australian stories in a dynamic and exciting way.

Learn more

The Bunyip and the Stars

On a starless night, Wumbirr leaves the safety of the campfire and is captured by the fearsome bunyip.

How Mother Kangaroo Got Her Pouch

Follow Mother Bunda and her spirited joey, Baabay, as they adventure across the vast Australian landscape.

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