Re-enactment marks 200th anniversary of the Barracks

 

Tuesday 4 June marks the 200th anniversary of the first convicts to take up residency in Hyde Park Barracks – recognising the beginning of new chapter of Australian history.

In recognition of this significant date, 12 Fort Street Public School students, in convict replica shirts, joined Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AO, QC, Governor of New South Wales in sharing a simple meal of roast beef, plum pudding and punch inspired by the one hosted by Governor Lachlan Macquarie for 589 male convicts 200 years ago. It was an auspicious occasion being the Birthday of King George III which was celebrated as a public holiday.

“We are delighted to have the Governor of NSW here to acknowledge this milestone event as part of the Hyde Park Barrack’s bicentennial year,” said Dr Caroline Butler-Bowdon, acting Executive Director, Sydney Living Museums.

“This building is such an important part of Sydney’s history, drawing together key stories of the convict men and later, the immigrant and asylum women and the Aboriginal people who were all affected by the site - stories which still inform our lives today.”

UNESCO World Heritage listed, Hyde Park Barracks is one of the most significant convict sites in the world. Commissioned by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1817, the building, designed by convict architect Francis Greenway, took two years to build and was as remarkable then as it is now.

Originally built to accommodate male convicts, the barracks had far-reaching impact from 1830 as the administrative hub of the colony’s convict system. After 1848, it sheltered immigrant girls and young women and cared for older, sick and poor women. Once a place of control, fear and brutality, the barracks later became a place of shelter and hope.

Today, 200 years after the first convicts moved in, the barracks is now a museum offering visitors an extraordinary living record of early Australia. The collection is considered one of the best preserved examples of materials representing 19th century institutional life anywhere in the world.

In 2020, the Hyde Park Barracks has been transformed with a rich, new visitor experience like no other in Australia. This bold new project employs the best in contemporary museum design, offering visitors an authentic, emotionally moving and memorable experience.

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