6 un­usual mu­se­ums to visit

From ob­scure to off­beat, these quirky mu­se­ums dis­play the most un­usual his­tor­i­cal arte­facts around town. By Ju­liana Yu

Time Out (Sydney) - - THINGS TO DO -

Syd­ney Bus Mu­seum

A huge col­lec­tion of vin­tage buses is kept at the 100-year-old Le­ich­hardt Tramshed. Poke around ev­ery­thing from the 1924 Rug­gles, a cute, boxy lit­tle thing for only 22 peo­ple, all the way up to those white-and-blue Mercedes-Benz buses. You can peer into, climb on and nose around ex­hibits to your heart’s con­tent, and the space is manned by knowl­edge­able vol­un­teers, many of whom are bus in­dus­try re­tirees who just couldn’t keep away. In­cluded in the ticket price is a ride to or from the QVB on a vin­tage dou­ble decker bus. Sit up­stairs and en­joy the view as you whirr (at a low speed) over the AN­ZAC Bridge. 25 Der­byshire Rd, Le­ich­hardt 2040. 02 9572 6789. www.syd­ney­bus­mu­seum.info. First and third Sun­day of the month, 10am-4pm. $10-$15.

May Gibbs’ Nut­cote

There’s plenty of happy nos­tal­gia for young and old on a visit to the au­tho­ril­lus­tra­tor’s home over­look­ing Neu­tral Bay. Re­live the adventures of Snug­gle­pot and Cud­dlepie fea­tured on the wa­ter­colours, post­cards and prints scat­tered through­out the mini-mu­seum. The house is a care­fully main­tained example of Span­ish mis­sion ar­chi­tec­ture filled with mid-cen­tury fur­ni­ture and knick-knacks. Af­ter the tour you’re wel­come to en­joy the gar­dens, per­haps with a cup of tea and a scone from the Nut­cote’s café. Wal­laringa Ave, Neu­tral Bay 2089. 02 9953 4453. www.may­gibbs.com.au. Wed-Sun 11am-3pm. $4-$10.

Mu­seum of Hu­man Dis­ease

Hypochon­dri­acs and We­bMD en­thu­si­asts, this spe­cial­ist mu­seum housed within the UNSW is for you. In its pos­ses­sion are 2,000 spec­i­mens of hu­man dis­ease, ob­tained from au­top­sied pa­tients who have do­nated their bod­ies to sci­ence. You’ll see ap­petite-bust­ing spec­i­mens of ev­ery­thing from tape­worms and ty­phoid to tu­ber­cu­lo­sis and ter­atoma, an alien-like tu­mour that grows its own hair, skin and teeth. Ex­hibits are ac­com­pa­nied by a de­tailed clinical his­tory of the ill-fated donor pa­tient, giv­ing the weird fleshy bits you’re look­ing at some (sad) hu­man­ity.

Ground Fl, Sa­muels Build­ing, Uni­ver­sity of New South Wales, Col­lege Rd, Rand­wick 2052. 02 9385 1522. dis­ease­mu­seum.unsw.edu.au. Mon-Fri 10am-4pm. $5-$10.

Mu­seum of Fire

Be pre­pared for the full frontal as­sault of super-eerie life-sized dio­ra­mas il­lus­trat­ing the hor­rors of home fires. We’re talk­ing flame-black­ened bed­rooms, shred­ded cur­tains, melted ap­pli­ances on glo­ri­ously ’80s retro fitouts, and even burnt dolls and teddy bears to re­ally drive fear into the depths of the heart. If you can fight the urge to rush home and check you’ve turned off the stove, the rest of the mu­seum swaps trauma for awe, with an ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of his­tor­i­cal fire trucks. There are some se­ri­ously re­gal ve­hi­cles here, stretch­ing as far back as horse-drawn fire carts from the 1800s. They’ve also amassed a cat­a­logue of or­nate brass hel­mets and uni­forms. 1 Mu­seum Dr, Pen­rith 2750. 02 4731 3000. www.mu­seum of­fire.net. Daily 9.30am-4.30pm. $6-$12.

Syd­ney Tramway Mu­seum

Mel­bourne may be known for them, but Syd­ney was the OG tram city, with an ex­ten­sive net­work that op­er­ated un­til the mid-1900s. The Syd­ney Tramway Mu­seum op­er­ates vin­tage tram rides ev­ery Wed­nes­day and Sun­day over four kilo­me­tres of track to the Suther­land and Royal Na­tional Park. We rec­om­mend go­ing for the lat­ter op­tion – you’ll end up at a pic­turesque lit­tle pic­nic spot, so bring a spread (there’s a tiny kiosk for ice creams and sausage rolls), be­fore head­ing back into the 21st cen­tury. Back at the mu­seum you’ll find an ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of tram cars lov­ingly re­stored by an army of vol­un­teers. Cnr Raw­son Ave & Pitt St, Lof­tus 2232. 02 9542 3646. syd­ney­tramway­mu­seum.com.au. Wed 10am-3pm; Sun 10am-5pm. $10-$18.

Aus­tralian Mu­seum of Mag­i­cal Arts

The Ma­gi­cians Cabaret Theatre is known for flashy din­ner shows, but it also keeps a side hus­tle, op­er­at­ing the Aus­tralian Mu­seum of Mag­i­cal Arts by day. Those who still dust off their David Cop­per­field or Penn and Teller DVDs ev­ery Christ­mas will get a kick out of see­ing tonnes of magic para­pher­na­lia up close. And yes, you’ll learn the me­chan­ics of a few en­try-level tricks (af­ter you sign a ‘ma­gi­cian’s oath’ of se­crecy).

91 Ri­ley St, Dar­linghurst 2010. 02 9267 4747. syd­ney­mu­se­ums.com.au. Tours Tue-Fri 11.30am & 1.30pm; Sat, Sun 1.30pm. $31-$41.

Mu­seum of Hu­man Dis­ease Syd­ney Tramway Mu­seum

Aus­tralian Mu­seum of Mag­i­cal Arts

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