Hyde Park Barracks Museum#13 in Best Things To Do in Sydney
Considered one of the world's most significant convict locations, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was once used to house convicted men and boys brought to Sydney from Great Britain. After Great Britain stopped transporting prisoners to Australia in 1840, convicts were moved to Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour and the former barracks were converted into the city's Female Immigration Depot. The Hyde Park Barracks Museum also served as a hostel for orphan girls fleeing the Irish Potato Famine and an asylum for elderly women before shutting its doors in 1886. After its closure, the historic building lay in shambles until an extensive restoration began in 1975. Now the property operates as a museum and archeological treasure.
According to recent visitors, the museum's interactive exhibits successfully paint a picture of what life was like as a convict in Sydney. Upon entering the museum, you'll be given an iPad and headset featuring audio performed by actors. As you make your way through the museum, the iPad can detect your location and offer information on what you're seeing (there are no informational placards, only visual displays). The museum says its audio guide is recommended for visitors 8 and older.
The Hyde Park Barracks Museum is located within walking distance of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Royal Botanic Garden. Should you decide to arrive by public transit, there are two train stations – St James and Martin Place – and multiple bus stops in the immediate area. Travelers can also take a ferry to Circular Quay, which is less than a mile north of the museum. There is no public parking offered at the property, but limited street parking and garage spaces are available near Hyde Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
The Hyde Park Barracks Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (excluding Christmas Day and Good Friday). Museum entrance costs AU$24 (about $16.50) for adults and AU$16 (around $11) for children ages 5 to 15 to enter; children 4 and younger enter for free. Admission fees are included for those with a Sydney Museums Pass. Restrooms, a small cafe and a gift shop are also located on the museum grounds. For more information, visit the museum's website.
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#1 Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge stands next to the Opera House as one of the city's most iconic landmarks. Lovingly called the "Coathanger" by locals, this towering structure is one of the world's largest steel arch bridges. And while you can capture stunning pictures of the bridge from one of Sydney Harbour's ferry boats, for an unforgettable experience, sign up for a bridge climb through BridgeClimb Sydney. Ranging from nearly two to nearly four hours in length, the bridge climb provides visitors with panoramic views of the Harbour, the Sydney skyline and the Opera House.
Although some former visitors complained of the high price tags, many said the bridge climbs are the best way to experience this iconic attraction, calling it a must-do experience. While climbs are offered throughout the day every day, travelers recommend scheduling a climb at twilight, which will give you three different views – daylight, sunset and nighttime – in one. If you're afraid of heights, reviewers still suggest you consider the experience as the staff is well-trained to help you overcome your anxieties.
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