Spy: Espionage in Australia | The Workshops Rail Museum

kids with spy activity trail booklets

The Workshops Rail Museum in Ipswich is has always been popular with Brisbane families, and from now until February 6th 2022 they’re also hosting a free temporary exhibition called Spy: Espionage in Australia.

This new exhibition features stories and artefacts, including actual disguises and hidden cameras from real life spies from the time of Australia’s federation in 1901 right through until today and also offers a glimpse at the future.

While most of what we know about spies and their work is probably through the lens of Hollywood or James Bond films offering a dramatised and international perspective, this exhibition tells the very real stories of spies who operated in and for Australia. 

kids with spy sign

There are 2 booklets available to help guide families through the exhibition which would be particularly useful for younger kids.  There is one targeted at families with children 3-7 years old and a second prepared for children over the age of 7. 

The Activity Trail Booklets

The Spy Story Activity Trail booklet for younger families encourages kids, along with an adult, to find and discuss the artefacts in the room. The booklet provides prompts on each page for you to talk about different aspects of spy craft with your Brisbane Kids as well as prompts to write or draw things based on the displays in the exhibition.

There is also a Spy Mission Family Activity Trail booklet which is designed for kids from ages 7 and up.  This activity trail poses more complex questions to children and aims to get them thinking about spy craft and interacting with the exhibition.  A highlight for our 8 year old reviewer was completing a secret file dossier about her younger brother.  Older Brisbane Kids will be able to complete much of this activity trail independently.

spy disguises and info

It could also be fun to pack some disguise elements for your Brisbane Kids to dress up and get into character – things like scarves, hats, sunglasses and costume jewellery could really help your Brisbane Kids to get into the theme and add to their experience. 

There is quite a lot of text and reading to get the most out of this exhibition whether or not you follow the Activity Trail booklets or just explore the exhibition for yourself, so be prepared, especially with younger Brisbane Kids who might not be able to read the information for themselves yet. 

Upon completion of their booklets, Brisbane Kids will be presented with a License to Spy card to keep by the friendly and enthusiastic museum staff. 

The fascinating history of espionage in Australia 

Brisbane Kids with an interest in history and espionage particularly could find this a fascinating exhibition, and it doesn’t shy away from some of the more controversial aspects of Australia’s ASIO history including the surveillance of people involved in protests against the Vietnam War and people who might have been interested in Communism. 

spy interactive code wheel

This exhibition is held in a fantastic air-conditioned gallery space in the heart of The Workshops Rail Museum and will offer a respite from the summer heat for Museum visitors and well as a glimpse at the often shadowy world of espionage. Your ticket into The Workshops Rail Museum includes entry into Espionage in Australia. What this means is that in addition to this captivating limited time exhibition, your kids will also gain access to all the usual fun of the museum.

Read our review about all the regular fun of The Workshops Rail Museum.

Spy: Espionage in Australia runs from now until February 6th at The Workshops Rail Museum at North Street, North Ipswich and is included in the cost of entry to the museum.

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