I’ve always loved science museums. In fact, a visit to a science museum as a child may have prompted me to tell everyone that I wanted to be a scientist when I grew up. Having the worst science teachers (one threw a metal dust pan that narrowly missed a student’s head) and performing poorly in science during my formative school years (I was told to stand in a corner after tracing light rays on the table instead of my workbook during an optics experiment) quickly put those dreams into a permanent coma. But my passion for science museums remains alive.
And so during our recent trip to Canberra, my number one must-visit was Questacon, Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre. Questacon is located at King Edward Terrace, home to a bunch of other galleries and museums such as the National Portrait Gallery, the Museum of Australian Democracy, and is adjacent to Parkes Place, which is where the High Court of Australia current sits. By the way, Australia’s highest court of law is a dump.
Questacon is undoubtedly designed for curious children, but that didn’t stop me and many other adults from trying out the 200+ interactive exhibits across the 8 galleries in the museum. The layout is uniquely designed. You start off on the first exhibition hall on the top floor, then slowly make your way down the circular walkway through the various halls until you reach the eighth and final one on the ground floor. Reminded me a little of the astoundingly good aquarium at Osaka (Kaiyukan), which has a similar design.
For us, we started off with a dry ice show in one of the theatres on the ground floor (there are a few throughout the day, and this one was supposed to be the best), which was very cool. I learned a few things and was surprised by how many children were willing to volunteer to answer questions they clearly did not know the answer to.
I’m not going to bother going through all the exhibits they had — you can check them out for yourself at the Questacon website. For me, the coolest were the ‘Perception Deception’ gallery (especially the ‘phantom limb’ — that was freaky!), the ‘Awesome Earth’ gallery (where you could experience earthquakes and massive lightning strikes) and the ‘Sideshow’ gallery (like a free theme park with those rotating clowns, roller coaster simulators and a six-metre free fall slide!).
Questacon was a lot of fun. It was hygienic too, with free hand sanitizer pumps in every gallery. We went during school holidays, so there were a lot of kids (though I imagine not as many as there would be on the weekend), but the good thing is that as an adult you can just shove them out of the way.
Questacon is open 9am-5pm every day except Christmas Day
Adults $20, Concession $15, Children (4-16) $15, Family (2 adults+3 children) $60 + $7 for each additional child.