Convict sleepover

Key Information

This program is offered only to DEC rural and regional schools in NSW with an FOEI score of 100 or more, on application. This program is for Stage 2 and 3 students.
Supervision ratios

Adults will be accommodated with the students in the Hammock Room and will be responsible for overnight supervision of the students from 9.30pm to 6am.

If your school’s application is successful, we subsidise the full cost of the program, including food and accommodation, and allocate a travel subsidy of an additional $20 per student.
Sessions offered

No dates have been set for the Convict Sleepover at this stage, and availability will be dependent on the donations received. Once funding becomes available, schools that have registered will be notified and offered a session on a Tuesday or Wednesday night during school term, dates to be negotiated. .

Maximum students
Maximum - 40. 
Please note that a minimum also applies - your school may be required to share with another school.

The Sleepover exceeded my expectations because I was thoroughly impressed with the level of engagement shown by my students. The activities and information was presented in a way that was accessible and fun for my students and made convict life real for them.

The Unlocking Heritage Convict Sleepover – an opportunity for NSW primary students from disadvantaged rural and regional schools to travel to Sydney and take part in a unique overnight experience at the UNESCO heritage-listed Hyde Park Barracks Museum.

Eligible schools are invited to register an expression of interest.

The Sydney Living Museums Foundation is working towards accessing corporate funding to reintroduce this ‘once in a lifetime’ experience for students and we are inviting eligible schools to register their interest to take part in the Convict Sleepover.

About the program

The Convict Sleepover is an immersive experience where children can live the life of a convict exactly where they were 200 years ago. In this program students learn about the convicts that came through the Barracks, eat convict fare, participate in convict games and then sleep in the hammocks where convicts slept.

This program was initiated as part of the Unlocking Heritage two year pilot project launched in 2015 to assist NSW primary students from disadvantaged and regional and rural schools to access quality educational experiences at some of the state’s significant heritage sites. Over 3,000 students from 100 NSW regional and rural primary schools participated in the Convict Sleepover; and for many of these children it was their first opportunity to visit Sydney and experience the cultural and social diversity that would not have been available to them without the funding provided by the Unlocking Heritage project.

Evening schedule

6pm – Under lock & key

Convicts are mustered, issued with a convict shirt and given an identity.

6.30pm–7.15pm – Regulation rations

Convicts sit down for supper, the menu inspired by typical convict fare.

7.15pm–8pm – Dark deeds & misdemeanours

Experience a lantern-lit tour of the barracks.

8pm–9pm – Pastimes

Play knuckles, ‘chuck-penny’, dominoes or marbles, or create a keepsake.

8.30pm–9pm – Cleanliness & order

Prepare for bed.

9pm–9.30pm – Thieves, tricksters & swindlers

Hear stories about past convict characters.

9.30pm – Sleep, and dream of a new life

Climb into hammocks in the dormitory and then it’s ‘lights out’.

Morning schedule

6am – Rise at dawn

Be woken by the sound of the morning bell.

6.30am – All in line

Dress and get ready for the morning muster.

7am – ‘You don’t starve but you’re always hungry’

Convicts have a typical breakfast.

7.30pm – Freedom at last!

Receive a ‘Ticket of Leave' to be released from Hyde Park Barracks.


DEC schools in regional and rural NSW with an FOEI score of 100 or more are eligible to apply. This program is open only to schools from regional and rural NSW, covering Hunter and Central Coast, Illawarra and South East, New England, North Coast, Riverina and Western NSW.

The program is suitable for students in Stages 2 and 3.

It was [a] unique and interesting experience particularly for country students who rarely get the opportunity to visit the city.

Fill out my online form.

Stages 2 & 3

Register your expression of interest

Use our online application form
Enquiries: 02 8239 2306;

Hyde Park Barracks Museum
Queens Square, Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW 2000


Risk assessment: Hyde Park Barracks Museum

Download PDF [317.69 KB]


Thank you Broadcast Australia for supporting our Sponsor a Sleepover campaign with a generous donation of $5,000. This will bring our first group of 50 students from a disadvantaged primary school in regional NSW to Sydney for a convict sleepover in 2018.