This noble brick building was designed by the convict architect Francis Greenway to house prisoners arriving in the colony. Now a flagship museum, the barracks house an entertaining modern display. Beautifully constructed dioramas tell the story of expanding colonial settlement and its devastating impact on the lives and culture of Indigenous Australians. All information is via an automatic audioguide, which can be clunky but gives charismatic narration from the point of view of participants in the building's history.
Highlights of the tour include the upstairs hammock room where convicts – some 50,000 passed through here – slept cheek by jowl, a variety of period artefacts, and stories from the building's later history as a women's immigration depot and asylum.
Entry is by timed ticket, so it's worth prebooking online to avoid a wait.