“Dog must not steal from dog” – Convict saying.
Recently, I decided to become a tourist in my own city of Sydney and visit one of Australia’s oldest European buildings, The Hyde Park Barracks Museum. Listed on the New South Wales and Australian National Heritage registers and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site as one of “the best surviving examples of large-scale convict transportation and the colonial expansion of European powers through the presence and labour of convicts.” The museum, located at the southern end of Macquarie St is a easy walk from most parts of the city.
The barracks have had an interesting history before becoming a museum in 1979. Designed by Francis Greenway, It was built between 1817 and 1819 as night lodgings for the government assigned male convicts of the city. Between 1848 and 1886, the building became the Female Immigration Depot for single females and during the years 1862 to 1886 it also housed the Female Infirm and Destitute Asylum. From 1887 to 1979 it acted as some of the law courts and government offices for the city.
Dedicated to the colonial settlement of Australia, the first floor of the museum is dedicated to artefacts, murals and life in early Sydney. The barracks were opened in 1819 and although designed to hold 600 men, it sometimes held over 1400 until 1848 when the last remaining convicts were resettled at Cockatoo Island after deportation was ended in 1840.
With a huge imbalance of gender in the colony, the barracks converted to the Female Immigration Depot. The second floor depicts what life was like for these new arrivals from famine stricken Ireland or the wives and children of convicts. I found this section quite interesting, especially being allowed to only bring one trunk full of their possessions, dictated by a list.
The most confronting room, however, was the convicts quarters with hammock after hammock lined up in cramped and what would have been squalid, smelly conditions. Sleeping like dogs.
The last part of the self guided tour was outside, the former court houses of 20th century Sydney. The main building was divided into a maze of government offices with courthouses outside. A landmark case, the basic living wage, was settled here in 1927.
FreakyFlier paid for his own entry
5 Comments Add yours
My goodness can you sleep in a hammock? I mean a nap but I don’t know as a substitute for a bed!
Well done for begin a tourist in your own city. I love doing the same, but just realised I haven’t actually been to this museum! Slaps self. I’m going to have to change that one and soon. Have you also been to the Museum of Sydney? I’ve been to lots of their exhibitions and learnt so much about this city of ours.
Times were much tougher back then!
Wow, look at those hammocks! This was an interesting tour, Matt. Thanks for showing us!!!
Julie & Alesah
Gourmet Getaways xx
What a neat tour of your own city! It is always exciting to discover historical treasures.