The Justice and Police Museum located in the city a short walk from Circular Quay was a busy place in the 1850s with the recent end of convict transportation, the discovery of gold, and improved transport and communications, people of all kinds flooded through the bustling port which meant crime as well as trade was on the rise. The crimes of drunken flights, petty criminals were hauled before the Water Police Court daily, so busy in fact that a new building was needed urgently. The new Water Police Court was completed by 1856, and soon after the new Water Police Station was opened. In 1886 a Police Court was squeezed into the vacant land between the two buildings, making the three-building complex one of the busiest legal precincts in the colony.
Today as the Justice & Police Museum, the history of crime, policing and justice are explored in these same buildings, where the gritty business of maintaining law and order once played out.
Visitors can brave the steep steps in front of the Justice & Police Museum or use the side ramp to enter with prams and wheelchairs. Once in, visitors can read up on the notorious criminals and bushrangers who have left their stories at this museum.
Visitors can appreciate the old building which has been well kept and preserved when moving from one part of the Museum to the other.
Kids or adults can dress up as witnesses, criminals and the like in the Police Court using provided outfits and play pretend.
Visitors can view an interesting range of weapons confiscated by NSW Police in the Crime Museum.
My little ones loved playing in the Charge Room, there's a hole puncher, some paper, finger printing quest sheet and a small open cell they can sit in.
The 1890 holding cells are pretty interesting, the first one is as they were back in those days whereas the other cells have been fitted with artefacts, stories and draw visitors into a world of crime, punishment and policing, from bushrangers, sly grog and razor gangs to forensics.
There's lots to read up on, Mister 2 wasn't so interested except when he saw dogs, bikes and cars on photos and displays. Little Miss was following a little trail throughout the Museum.
The highlight of the visit was the Mock Trial in the Police Court which happens Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 am for 30 minutes and asks visitors to either step into the shoes of a notorious bushranger and plead your innocence. Or perhaps visitors can wear the barrister’s or the judge's wig to test their powers of persuasion. Visitors can see first-hand how a 19th century magistrates court put Sydney’s infamous criminals behind bars. The Police Court retains the original magistrate’s bench, reporter/jury box, witness stand and prisoner’s dock (not pictured).
On your way out, don't forget to checkout the City of Shadows installation (some photos aren't kid friendly) but this room provides a vast archive of crime scene photography and mug shots from more than a century of underworld Sydney.
The Justice & Police Museum is a great place for primary school children, teenagers and adults to read up on, understand and appreciate the rich history of the buildings and underworld Sydney. The Museum is only open weekends and the Mock Trial is only on once a day on Saturday and Sunday so make sure you attend during those times. Kids can play dress ups and follow a little trail to find their missing friend provided at reception. I did query reception regarding the Cop or Robber activity available weekends at 10:30 am for 30 minutes but was told there was no such activity and that a tour takes place during that time instead.
The Justice & Police Museum is located at Corner Albert and Phillip Streets, Circular Quay, Sydney CBD.
The Justice & Police Museum is open 10am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday only.
Admission is $15 per adult, $12 per concession, $38 per family, Members and Kids under 5 go free.
Free self guided tour and guided tour at 10:30 am.
Free dress ups in the courtroom.
Free family-friendly Bushrangers Behind Bars mock trial at 11:30 am.
Entry to the Museum for prams and wheelchairs is available on the side of Albert Street using the ramp. Ring and hold the bell to make sure someone opens up for you. The Museum is pram and wheelchair friendly throughout most of the building however you can leave the pram at the entry and the staff is cloak it for you.
Busy City Kids were invited to the Justice and Police Museum for the purpose of a review. All opinions & feedback are genuine & truthful. Travel and food were self funded.
For more ideas on what to do with the kids in Sydney, head to our blog, our daily spots list or pools & beaches or playgrounds list. And for a full list of parents rooms around Sydney, head to our parents room page.