School holidays

Two women & baby in the entrance hall

Family tours at Elizabeth Bay House

Take a family tour of Elizabeth Bay House to discover the secret histories and interesting stories of the Macleay Family who used to live in this gorgeous house over a century ago! Or discover what was once one of the world’s largest collections of beautiful butterflies, magical moths and interesting insects. Don’t worry, they aren’t alive! 

Each tour lasts approximately 30-40 minutes.


Friday to Sunday in the school holidays

10am, 12pm, 2pm: Children’s Tour – Science & Specimens
11am, 1pm, 3pm:   Macleay Family Tour


Elizabeth Bay House

Included with museum entry 
Adult $12, Concession $8, Family $30, FREE for members and children under 5 years

In the entrance hall, Elizabeth Bay House. Photo © Stuart Miller & Hayley Richardson for Sydney Living Museums


Explore Elizabeth Bay House

The cellars

Elizabeth Bay House has two large and entirely separate cellars. To the north is the wine and spirit cellar, which could be accessed internally via a set of stairs that would have allowed the house butler or footman to swiftly deliver drinks to the Macleay family and their guests. The cellar in the south wing contains the larder as well as space for dairy and coal storage.

The house’s original owner, Alexander Macleay, was once a London wine trader, so the family never lacked for variety or quantity when it came to drinks. In fact, eagle-eyed visitors can still spot original handpainted labels for sherry, sauterne, madeira, claret and brandy on the stone walls of the cellar.


The Grotto

Elizabeth Bay House was originally surrounded by a 21 hectare garden that included a famous collection of both native and exotic plants. However, as subdivisions and leaseholds slowly divided the estate, these features began to disappear and today little remains of what was once a truly spectacular garden.

One surviving feature is the grotto, attributed to the architect John Verge. Designed to provide a shaded place to view the harbour, it’s a hidden gem that can be found about 100 metres south of Elizabeth Bay House along Onslow Avenue. Tucked within the stone walls that support the garden terrace above, it features stone seats with a roof carved from an overhanging rock.