The Hyde Park Barracks Museum in Sydney was on the top of my list of places to visit and see when in the city; that’s of course after the Opera house and the Harbour bridge.
The barracks museum is not only an amazing structure with a rich and interesting history, it’s also a UNESCO world heritage landmark. This was the center of the world’s largest and longest running convict labor system. As we all know, the convict culture of Australia is the backbone of the country. Now, before you go all prepping your jokes and everything, you must understand what this meant and how it shaped a country into what it is now – diverse, strong and skilled.
The barracks was constructed back in 1817 and it’s a pretty solid structure. I’ve always loved bricks and there’s just a certain romance to it. Nobody builds with bricks anymore. It was used as a convict barracks from time it was built until 1848 – when the convicts were moved to Cockatoo island instead. The barracks then was converted into an immigration depot and an asylum for destitute women. It was also used as a government complex with judicial courts.
After that, it was then refurbished to be a museum and archaeologists were able to unearth convict treasures and artifacts that show more of what life used to be back in the day.
There were moments were I just felt for the convicts. Sure there were some hardened criminals there but most were just pickpockets and thieves. Some were even just political protestors and political criminals. Most of them gained their freedom back and with the skills that they have and shared, they’ve built Australia and shaped the culture.
I strongly suggest that you take one of those audio guides. It’s convenient and you get to learn at your own pace. The museum is open daily except for Christmas and Good Friday. They open at 10 am and close at 5 pm. You can also rent the grounds for any of your events.
Check out their website here.