The Australian Museum has had a facelift! Well its entrance way has, and this has meant that the Museum's previous cafe has had to move upstairs, to allow for a fancy new Crystal Hall that you now walk through to enter the Museum (it's our answer to the Louvre); and also to make way for the seriously impressive Wild Planet exhibition. As a result, the cafe has caught the lift up to the fourth floor and been re-branded the Rooftop Cafe. And let me tell you, if you are after a cafe with a view in Sydney to take visitors to, this is it my friends!
On the day we visited recently, the new entrance/exhibition was 2 days away from being completed. This was actually ideal, as it meant that we didn't have to share the Museum with too many other pesky tourists. On arrival, we paid our entrance fee (and remember kids under the age of 16 are now FREE for general entry, but still have to pay for major exhibitions) and headed straight up to the cafe via the lifts, for a spot of lunch. The Rooftop Cafe is so spacious and THOSE views over Centrepoint Tower, St Marys Cathedral, the Domain and the city are just fabulous. The cafe has a wee bit of an unfinished feel to it, but there are loads of tables and chairs as well as some booth seating available. There is plenty of access for those of you who have prams, and quite a few high chairs have been provided. Toilets can also be found on this level, and if you need a baby change table they are in toilets lower down in the Museum.
At the Rooftop Cafe, you order and pay for your meals at the cash register and your meals are then brought to your table. On the day we dined, the cafe was relatively quiet and our meals arrived quickly. This is perhaps because it was during the school term. Our only dining companions were quite a few young gents from the school next door (Sydney Grammar), who were monopolising quite a few tables and also the lifts. And between you and me, their manners could do with a wee bit of refining. On weekends and school holidays I don't think you will find them lurking in the cafe, however I'm sure the cafe would be very busy with other paying Museum visitors.
The menu at the Rooftop Cafe is small, but there are choices to suit most dietary requirements. The choices for kidlets are the chicken strips & chips, a sauso roll, a pie, hot chips or the Dinosaur Lunch Box. The lunch box costs $8.00 and includes a pre-made cheese sandwich, Whole Kids juice popper and a freddo frog. The kids can then take the box home as a souvenir if they want. The cake cabinet also has some yummy sweet treats if you are stopping by mid morning/afternoon, including Frogs in the Pond, and Whole Kids Frooshies. There is also a fridge full of Ben & Jerry ice creams if your babes need cooling down.
The adults in our group taste tested the Angus beef burger & chips, the beef & brisket pie as well as the fish and chips. All meals received the thumbs up, especially as they were served so quickly, which was handy when we had two very anxious children wanting to explore the museum below! If nothing on the menu appeals to you, make sure you check out the cake cabinet as there are sandwiches and other light snacks for sale. We only had table water with our meals to drink, which we poured for ourselves from the self help water station up near the cash register. The Museum's website claims that they make an awesome brew of coffee, so I'll just have to take their word for it, until next time I visit when I can sample it for y'all.
After we finished our lunch and soaked up the last of the view, we headed downstairs to check out the Museum floor by floor. The Australian Museum is so child friendly and hands on for little kids. There is a permanent dinosaur exhibition which is my boys current favourite, as well as so many other exhibits on Australian flora, fauna, minerals etc. Your kids can check out specimens under microscopes, pretend they are archaeologists and have a little dig and basically touch everything they can see - it's all hands on at the Australian Museum.
The only hands on activity that is discouraged is knocking on the glass cabinets that are home to live creatures. There are baby crocs, blue tongue lizards and Jurassic looking insects, to name but a few, living at the Museum (hence why it is known as a living museum). If you see a care taker wandering around feeding any of the local residents, make sure you have a chat to them as they have a wealth of knowledge and are very patient with kids.
Now if your kids are a bit over looking at dinosaurs and stuffed animals, take them for some time out in the brilliant Kids Space. This area is a fully secure space dedicated for kids 5 years and under and their siblings. In here you can change you babe's nappy, you can secure your little crawlers in their own padded space, you can read your kids a book, let them dress up or just let them do their own thing. There are staff on hand to answer questions and to get the little ones involved in activities such as the x-ray machine, colouring in etc.
During the year the kids space offers special activities for little explorers. They have singing and dancing for tiny tots, as well as science explorations for mini explorers aged 3-5 years old - there are fees involved so check the Museum's website for details. You can even take your kids to Dinosnore sleepovers - it will cost you a bit of coin but hey, how often can you have your very own Night at the Museum, just like the movie?
The motto of the Australian Museum is to "feed those hungry young minds with creative Museum fun" and they do this very well, and thanks to the Rooftop Cafe you can also feed their little bellies quite well too!
1 William St, Sydney
02 9320 6000
Open 7 days 9.30am - 4.30pm
Closest Parking: Domain Car Park