The Hyde Park Barracks

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hyde Park Barracks Museum

Top choice in City Centre & Haymarket

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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby City Centre & Haymarket attractions

1. The Mint

0.05 MILES

The stately Mint building (1816) was originally the southern wing of the infamous Rum Hospital, built by two Sydney merchants in return for a monopoly on…

2. St James’ Church


Built from convict-made bricks, Sydney’s oldest church (1819) is widely considered to be architect Francis Greenway's masterpiece. It was originally…

3. Sydney Hospital


Originally the Rum Hospital, built by two Sydney merchants in return for a monopoly on the rum trade, Australia’s oldest hospital has a grand Victorian…

4. Archibald Memorial Fountain

0.11 MILES

Hyde Park’s northern end is crowned by this richly symbolic art-deco fountain, featuring Greek mythological figures.

5. St Mary’s Cathedral

0.12 MILES

Sydney has traditionally been quite a Catholic city, and this is the hub of the faith. Built to last, this 106m-long sandstone Gothic Revival–style…

6. Reserve Bank of Australia Museum

0.12 MILES

Hidden inside the Reserve Bank is this surprisingly interesting museum detailing the history of Australia's banknotes, from pre-Federation to the polymer…

7. Parliament House

0.15 MILES

Twin of the nearby Mint, the venerable Parliament House (1816) has been home to the Parliament of New South Wales since 1829, making it the world’s oldest…

8. Macquarie Street

0.15 MILES

A swathe of splendid sandstone colonial buildings graces this street, defining the central city's eastern edge. Many of these buildings were commissioned…