Hyde Park Barracks, trip activities — what to do and see
History buffs fall in love with a heritage site that is not boring, dull, stuffed with documents and insert objects in glass cases. Visitors are part of an immersive experience where you are visually part of someone’s life. Lights on, you are invited to stand by my bed while I talk to you. Walk around the corner onto the paths and footsteps that I took in the nineteenth century. Fabulous interpretative narratives definitely a must visit site for both locals, Australians and international visitors alike.
Best time to visit
Year round, as the buildings are air conditioned it is a great place to visit in the heat of an Australian summer.
Either walk from your central city accommodation, catch the hop on hop off bus tours or use public transport. Hyde Park Barracks is on the Circular City Train Route.
Hyde Park Barracks is an intact splendid example of Francis Greenway’s architectural vision for the new colony. Majestic, solid and speaking to the new inhabitants about the might of the British Empire. The clear Georgian lines are a testimony to the period and speak to all visitors about the power of a building to message visitors about the function and intention of the makers.
Macquarie Square, where Hyde Park Barracks is located is a great place to start the day exploring historic Sydney.
What to do nearby:
- Royal Botanical Gardens – chill out and relax
- State Library of NSW – explore
- St Mary’s Cathedral – beautiful church architecture
- Museum of Sydney – find out about Sydney’s past
- The Rocks – shops, nocks and grannies to walk
- BridgeClimb Sydney – fun, adrenaline rush getting to the top
IRISH ORPHAN GIRLS - MEMORIAL Hyde Park Barracks
Over 4,114 Irish orphan girls were shipped to Australia between 1848 and 1850. The monument is to the nineteenth century Great Irish Potato Famine and the personal stories of the girls’s lives. You could quickly walk past the southern wall of Sydney’s heritage Hyde Park Barracks. Stop and take time to read the girl’s story.
Ireland’s overcrowded workhouses with young female paupers were viewed, by the Secretary of State for the Colonies as a two pronged ideal solution. Empty the government supported workhouses of paupers and supply female labourers and future mothers to the heavily dominated colony of Australia. Between 1848 to 1850 girls between 14 to 19 were compulsorily shipped to Australia. Forced emigration was tough with appalling shipboard conditions and the fraught process of finding work in the colonies.
The artistic interpretation of the journey by artists Hossein and Angela Valamanesh is inspired for its visual messaging. The Hyde Street Barracks was Sydney’s female immigration arrival depot with over 2,253 girls being processed in the facilities.
There is an ongoing effort to trace the origins and names of the girls with 420 names etched into the glass. On the memorial website, is a database record of known orphans. It is not complete as the shipping records from the 20 ships that brought the girls from Ireland were either inaccurate or non-existent. The issue of literacy, and the girl’s primary language being Galic further compounded the difficulties of accuracy and completed the record of Australia’s emigration story.
Travel Pack Information
- An excellent brief introduction to the Hyde Park Barracks with further recommended reading for history buffs, A short history of the Hyde Park Barracks
The journey is worth it.
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