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The first thing to notice at the Bass Strait Maritime Centre is the building itself. Designed in the shape of a compass, the facade suggests a trove of old-world nautical discovery.

Models of ships, interactive displays, artworks and memorabilia are on show, with the centre exploring the early European exploration and endeavours through Bass Strait. The centre holds evidence of early shipbuilders and entrepreneurs, shipwrecks and the impact of steam and the creation of Devonport.

A highlight of a visit is the chance to get behind the helm of the SS Woniora in a state-of-the-art simulation. It gives a first-hand experience of bringing a 1910 steamer into the Devonport docks - watch for those other ships! - or through the heads of Port Phillip Bay.

There’s also an opportunity to sail in the fully restored Julie Burgess ketch. If weather allows, two-hour sailings operate from October through June on Wednesdays and Sundays, taking passengers out into Bass Strait.

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