Hyde Park Barracks

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Built between 1817 and 1819, the Hyde Park Barracks is one of Sydney’s most popular historical attractions. The barracks provided lodgings for convicts working in government employment around Sydney until its closure in 1848.

Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney
Hyde Park Barracks seen from Sydney Tower
Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney
Hyde Park Barracks

The Buildings

Hyde Park Barracks, as seems fitting, was built by convict labor. It was designed by architect Francis Greenway, an emancipated convict who became well known as one of the premiere Australian architects of his era.

The three-storied main building, a prime example of Australia’s refined architecture of that period, sits in the center of this walled compound. There’s also a cookhouse, bakery, cells and soldiers’ quarters located within the walls.

Records note that the Barracks’ primary purpose was to house the large working convict population, which, until this project, roamed the streets at night causing street crime. Each floor was divided into four large rooms with hammocks. About seventy convicts were stuffed into each of these large rooms, with about half that number occupying several smaller rooms within the main building. At any one time, about 800 convicts occupied the Hyde Park Barracks.

After it closed, it served as an immigration depot for single female immigrants awaiting a reunion with their family and was later used as a female asylum. Government offices occupied the barracks in the early to mid-twentieth century.

Hyde Park Barracks Today

After many decades of decay, concerned citizens stepped in to renovate Hyde Park Barracks, which now serves as a museum. Exhibits educate visitors as to the daily lives of Sydney’s convicts through video, photos, artifacts, and much more. Guided and group tours are available upon request, or visitors may tour on their own. The museum is open daily and a small entry fee is charged.

During the summer Sydney Festival, enjoyable evening jazz concerts are held on the grounds of the Barracks.

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