Things to do in Sydney – Hyde Park Barracks


Hyde Park Barracks.

Hyde Park Barracks is Australia’s first government-built convict barracks, and the only remaining barracks building and complex from the Macquarie era of convict administration. It marked a turning point in Australia’s management of transported convicts from Britain. It is also significant because it was designed by Australia’s first architect Francis Greenway, and is regarded as one of his best works. Visitors can explore the museum and join a guided tour.

Hyde Parks Barracks was included in the National Heritage List on 1 August 2007.



The construction of the Barracks enabled the more systematic control of government assigned male convicts and the work they undertook. Convicts were subject to greater surveillance and their freedom was restricted. As such, the Barracks demonstrated the penal philosophy that transportation was a punishment and that convicts should be subject to hard labour and strict control. Its construction also signalled that the colony of New South Wales was no longer a temporary penal outpost but a permanent settlement.

In the early days of the colony of New South Wales, convicts were assigned to government service or private masters, and while the master was responsible for providing rations, convicts were responsible for their own ‘lodgings and fire’ in private houses and hotels. In order to pay for this accommodation they were permitted to work for themselves after hours. Convict men and women and soldiers associated freely in public houses after working hours, often resulting in disorderly public behaviour and robberies, and leading to increasing demands for greater control of convict living arrangements.


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