A night in the barracks for Taree Public School

Boy dressed in convict clothes holding up lamp.
Student from Taree Public School at Hyde Park Barracks. Photo © Miriam Buckley


As part of the 2016 NAIDOC Week program at Barangaroo Reserve, students from Taree Public School got to spend a memorable night in the Hyde Park Barracks.

This year Barangaroo Reserve on Sydney Harbour’s foreshore was home to one of the largest NAIDOC festivities in Australia. With the Barangaroo Delivery Authority keen to maintain this site as a place of national relevance for indigenous people, they partnered with Taree Public School to bring a group of school students down to Sydney to experience the festivities and cultural programs. 

With financial support provided by the Barangaroo Delivery Authority and fundraising at the school, 15 students from years 3 to 6 were invited to come to Sydney as a reward for their hard work during the school term. For some of these students this was their first visit to Sydney and the organisers were determined to find unique opportunities for them to experience, one of which was the Convict Sleepover at the UNESCO World Heritage listed Hyde Park Barracks Museum.

Arriving at the gates at 6pm on a rainy night, the students, three teachers and two brave parents experienced their first convict muster where they were allocated convict identities and provided with convict shirts. Di Murray, Instructional Leader at Taree Public School said that this was the moment that brought to life the convict experience for her students. Students and adults then sat down to enjoy a serving of convict rations, followed by a lantern lit tour of the barracks, learning about the history of early Sydney and convict life. The hardship experienced by the convicts became a reality for the children and teachers as they tried to fall asleep in the convict hammocks with the clock bells chiming every hour. It was a truly unique experience that they will never forget. 

The Convict Sleepover at Hyde Park Barracks is part of the Unlocking Heritage program, a two year trial project initiated by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. Financial support is provided for NSW primary school children in lower socio-economic areas and rural and remote regions so they have the opportunity to visit some of the state’s most significant heritage sites managed by Sydney Living Museums and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

For more information on this program and the educational experiences available as part of the Unlocking Heritage project, go to the Unlocking Heritage website  or contact the Project Manager on (02) 8239 2306. 



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