Hyde Park Barracks
Located on Macquarie Street,
Hyde Park Barracks has been home to convicts, single female immigrants, Irish orphans,
government offices, and a resident ghost.The Barracks are the work of Francis Greenway,
who, until recently, had his portrait on the Australian $10 note, the only currency in the
world to pay tribute to a convicted forger.
Convict Quarters: 1819 to 1848
Hyde Park Barracks
was built in 1817 to provide lodging for male convicts, who until that time had been
forced to find their own lodging after their day's work. The first occupants moved into
the Barracks in June 1819 and the central building served as a dormitory for an
average of 600 men who slept in hammocks in 12 rooms. The Barracks were the scene of
brutal floggings, inflicted on the convicts to maintain discipline. During the day the
inmates would work at various places in Sydney, and return at night. They worked from
sunrise to sunset Monday to Friday with a half-day on Saturday. They had to attend church
on Sundays and for this they had to appear in their best clothes, their hands and faces
washed and their boots cleaned. Liquor was forbidden and lights had to be out by 8.30 in
the evening. In 1848 the inmates of the Barracks were relocated to Cockatoo Island due to
changes to the penal system.
Immigrant Women's Depot and
Asylum: 1848 to 1886
In 1848 Hyde Park Barracks became the
Immigration Depot and offices for the Immigration Department. The building was
considerably altered inside. The main building housed offices on level 1, single female
immigrants on level 2, and Irish orphans and families of convicts on level 3. The
surrounding buildings were renovated as offices for the government Printer, the Vaccine
Institute, District Courts, and the Volunteer Rifle Brigade. By 1862 additional government
offices replaced the accommodation for Irish orphans and convicts families on the third
level. In 1867 a separate building was built in the courtyard for aged and infirm females.
Courts and Government Offices:
In 1887 a major program was undertaken to
convert all the buildings for the Supreme Court and other legal and government agencies.
Level 1 housed the Land Evaluation office, a small court, judges, jury and witness rooms.
The Master in Lunacy offices expanded into level 2 and the Curator of Estates shared level
3. Two large courtrooms were attached to the eastern end of the main building and the
other perimeter buildings were remodeled for the District Court and other government
Modern Museum: 1979 to present
Refurbished in 1990, the Barracks
reopened as a museum on the history of the site and its occupants. The displays include a
room reconstructed as convict quarters of the 1820s, as well as pictures, models, and
artifacts. Many objects recovered during archaeological digs at the site and now on
display had been dragged away by rats to their nests; the rodents are acknowledged as
valuable agents of preservation. The Greenway Gallery on the second floor holds temporary
exhibitions on history, ideas and culture. From the Barracks Café, which is located in
the original confinement cell area, you can look out over the gravel courtyard, which was
once the scene of brutal convict floggings. The museum shop has an extensive range of
merchandise relating to convicts, immigration and colonial life. Hyde Park Barracks is
open daily, from 10am to 5pm, and is closed on Good Friday and Christmas.