Artist Jonathon Jones inspecting his work on the Hyde Park Barracks courtyard.
Artist Jonathon Jones inspecting his work on the Hyde Park Barracks courtyard.

Updated barracks offer a trip back into Oz history

ON GADIGAL land in the heart of Sydney city looms large the UNESCO World Heritage listed Hyde Park Barracks with its gates reopened to the public after a major refurbishment.

Sitting at the top of Martin Place in Queen's Square on Macquarie Street, the convict era structure has been transformed, providing an immersive experience.

Next generation technology and history combine to present an insight into the lives of both the convicts that resided there and the Aborigines that were impacted by the arrival of the penal colony inhabitants.

About 4000 artefacts are on display, some of them preserved thanks to the rodents that collected and hid them in the bowels of the building.

It takes about 90 minutes to walk through the three floors of the building, which now has a lift.

 

A digital story board in the Hyde Park Barracks.
A digital story board in the Hyde Park Barracks.

 

Instead of text storyboards each visitor uses a personal audio unit with the commentary controlled by where you are standing. Step too far in one direction or the other and the audio picks up your location so that it can share the story of the nearest exhibit.

For the hearing impaired, soon there will be an ipad option to use when touring the building.

The rooms contain an array of artefacts, dioramas and digital storyboards. It's not cluttered; the space, light and modern presentations make it a pleasure to slowly move around the space.

In the courtyard is the artwork of Jonathan Jones. He had created an exceptional display of cobblestones of convict arrows and emu feet that show the intersection of early Australian life.

To view the display, visitors are encouraged to book in advance at hydeparkbarracks.sydneylivingmuseums.com.au.

Please check government advice for likely future opening times.


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