ellaslist Enjoyed A Trip Back To Convict Times At Hyde Park Barracks
By: Alana Whitting, ellaslist explorer
The school break might seem like a gaol sentence for some parents so these holidays send your little convicts back to the barracks. Convict Escapades is an immersive theatre experience for kids set in the convict days of 1836 and held at the historic Hyde Park Barracks.
You’ve just arrived on the convict ship ‘Moffatt’ and are welcomed at the barrack gates by some seasoned inmates. Step inside, slap on your convict slops and select your convict slang name, then set out through the barracks to be part of activities and events that were daily occurrences for Sydney’s convicts.
Explore the largest convict barracks in New South Wales with a cast of cheeky convict characters and complete tasks to earn your freedom and ‘ticket of leave’.
Roll call - everyone must muster
There are 10 scenes set throughout the barracks to be a part of and the convict crew guide you through each experience staying strongly in character throughout the day – watch out for the Superintendent along the way, he demands that best behaviour is the only way.
Convict Cleo, otherwise known as Kitty Kinchen, a young farmer from London, transported for stealing a kitten, was completely captivated. A game of knuckles with the other convicts was the highlight of her day until the Superintendent dispersed the crowd of rowdy revellers.
Don’t get caught - order in the court
We stopped by the courthouse to see the sentencing of the disorderly Ann Carruthers and checked out what cook was conjuring up for the ravenous crowd. We were taught how to wash our stinky clothes and ‘dirty toe rags’ – but beware don’t just let them dry anywhere. Others will steal what’s left lying around so drying over your shoulder is the best suggestion to be found.
Inside the barracks building, more adventures awaited. We were almost led astray by the Wharf Taxman ‘Magpie’ with his wayward advice, where payment in rum was the demanded price. Exhausted after all our toils we rested in the cramped convict quarters on handy hammocks.
You’re free to leave
Having successfully completed all of our tasks we were presented with our ‘ticket of leave’ by the Superintendent.
Museum – Ratty’s Kids Trail
We spent some time exploring the rest of the barracks after the event. The museum has a great Kids Trail activity book where you follow ‘Ratty’ through each floor of the museum discovering and uncovering interesting facts and anecdotes, gaining a special stamp when your booklet is completed.
The museum has a host of great experiences and hands-on activities that you can enjoy throughout the year.
The Bakehouse - special offer
The Bakehouse onsite café is located in the barracks courtyard and offers a great selection of snacks and more substantial options. Devonshire tea is a must have and during Convict Escapades they have a special lunch offer for convict kids.
The ‘convict kids lunch box’ includes a chicken sandwich, juice, cheese stick, brownie and apple for $12.
The cast of characters are so convincing you’ll leave feeling like a convict. This hidden gem is a must visit – so much of Sydney’s history in one perfectly preserved location.
The kids are the key participants in this event with adults accompanying them around the barracks on their convict adventures.
Most of the event's activities take place in the courtyard with the selected activities on the third floor of the building which is only accessible via a staircase, so any prams need to be left downstairs.
In a nutshell
• Limited tickets for Convict Escapades can be bought on the day, so it is best to book ahead
• Tickets are required for both adults and children
• Aim to arrive 15 minutes before your allocated time slot
• The event runs for 1.5 hours
• Suitable for ages 6 to 12 years
What you need to know
Event dates: Friday 21 to Monday 24 April
Session times: 2 sessions each day, 10am–11.30am and 1pm–2.30pm
Phone: 02 8239 2311
Address: Hyde Park Barracks Museum, Queens Square, Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Find out more: Event details here