Best Of Sydney Hyde Park Barracks Museum

Explore The Hyde Park Barracks Museum With Sydney Bus Charter

Designed by a convict architect, Francis Greenway, the brick building and compound of the Hyde Park Barracks was originally built at the head of Macquarie Street in 1819 to house male convicts. Currently it serves as a public museum, and is maintained by the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales.

The site is also listed on the Australian National Heritage, and is positioned on the World Heritage List of UNESCO as one of the renowned convict sites, being the best surviving example of extensive convict transportation and the majestic expansion of European rule through the labour of convicts.

If you are looking to explore the history of this region that was once a home to convict men and boys, make sure to choose bus charter in Sydney for a convenient and affordable group ride to the Hyde Park Barracks.

History Behind The Hyde Park Barracks

Following the orders of the then Governor Lachlan Macquarie, construction of the Hyde Park Barracks is considered as one of the most renowned works of Francis Howard Greenway, an England-born, Australian architect. Being a major male-convict barracks in the state of New South Wales, it accommodated convicts working as government employers around the city of Sydney, till the time it was closed in mid-1848.

Since then, it had an extensive number of occupants. For single female immigrants in quest of work as domestic servants and expecting family reunion, it was an immigration Depot from 1848 to 1886, and also an asylum from 1862 to 1886. Later from 1887 to 1979, government offices and law courts were based at this spot.

Transformation Into A Museum

Award winning architects Clive Lucas Stapleton and Tonkin Zulaikha Greer undertook adaptation and conservation work of the Hyde Park Barracks in 1991, which eventually won the Lachlan Macquarie Award in 1992. This newly renovated historical architecture is now a museum operated by Historic Houses Trust of NSW, and is a pure reflection of what it was truly like to be a convict in those days. You get an opportunity to discover the daily life of a convict through exhibitions of complex spaces, exposed layers of building fabric, excavated artefacts, an innovative soundscape, Australian convict system and the male convict labour force.

An interesting part of this museum is the recently launched 2-year program initiated by the Minister for the Environment, Mark Speakman by the name of ‘Unlocking Heritage’, which gives children an opportunity to experience living museums of Sydney. It allows students to put on convict clothing and sleep in the hammocks. This is an ideal chance to learn more about the history and life that once existed two centuries back.

World Heritage Listing

At the 34th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in July 2010, 11 Australian convict sites along with the Hyde Park Barracks were inscribed on the World Heritage List for being a masterpiece in connection with convict transportation. It was judged to be a surviving quintessence of European colonial expansion through the labour and presence of convicts. Old Government House at Cockatoo Island and Parramatta, along with the Old Great North Road are also included in the list.

Nearby Attractions

The historical region of Hyde Park is no doubt surrounded by some major city attractions that shouldn’t be missed out. Here are a few of these:

  • Bistro Mint

Tucked neatly on the first level of one of the oldest public buildings in Sydney, Bistro Mint at Macquarie Street is a mini-Paris of sorts. Set in a relaxed ambiance, this chic café serves modern French cuisine on week days. Breakfast is lined up with a scrumptious menu of omelettes, granola, muesli, toasted sandwiches and pastries, followed by a delectable lunch with salmon tartare, scampi in rosemary butter, mignonette and oysters as starters, with the main course of piece de resistance, veal cutlet stuffed with brie and tiger prawn-stuffed courgette flower. Given the laid-back atmosphere amid the historically rich surrounds, Bistro Mint is certainly one of most elegant architectural sanctuaries in the middle of Sydney.

  • St Mary’s Cathedral

Standing in the heart of central business district, the St Mary’s Cathedral is a statement of elegance and beauty. A wide generation of artists has bestowed it to their splendid gifts in glass and stone, crafting an innovative space of prayer and solace within the city. Representing the spiritual origins of Australian Catholic church, the Cathedral is one of the most precious historic buildings in Sydney, and the finest example of an English Gothic church.

Shaping the structure from the local yellow-block sandstone, it was the 19th Century architect, William Wilkinson Wardell, who dreamt of such a gothic masterpiece, which was eventually completed 100 years after his demise. Dedicated to mother Mary, the Cathedral invites all who visit this haven to realize their destiny and worth. Beyond the distinction of race, religion and community, we all are brothers and sisters.

  • Archibald Fountain

Considered as one of the finest public fountains in Australia, the Archibald fountain in Hyde Park was unveiled in 1932, just before the Harbor Bridge was opened. The structure was built with the legacy of Mr J.F. Archibald, and the design was crafted by a French artist, Francois-Leon Sicard. The idea to get the sculpture designed by a French architect was to honour the relationship that existed between France and Australia during World War I.

Laden with mythical creatures and various bronze sculptures of Greek Gods emerging out of a large rounded pool, the Archibald fountain is a spectacular sight to watch, especially at the night time, when the lights add to its elegance. Standing high upon a granite base, Apollo features at the centre. This is surrounded on the lower level of pedestals with several groups of sculptures, including that of Diana, the Hunting Goddess with a deer and hounds, the Minotaur and Theseus.

In case you are travelling to this spot in a big group, it’s advisable to avail Sydney bus charter for a hassle-free ride to the destination without having to break up the group. What’s more, it will be more cost effective!

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