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Sydney, Australia: Don’t Miss the Barracks Museum, the Rocks Walk, and Susanna Place

February 16, 2012
After driving around to Sydney’s fascinating harbors and touring the Opera house, make sure to take in the Barracks Museum, which from 1817 to 1840 was used to house convicts the British government  sent to Australia.  The convict experiment was actually a system designed by the English to that they could cleanse themselves of debtors and petty thieves.  The convicts built the city of Sydney, and many became successful upstanding citizens after their terms were completed.
Before I went to Australia, I did not know the program lasted such a short time. One woman from Northern England was sentenced to eight years for stealing a cow to feed her children. An eighteen year old man got four years for putting his  fingers in the till at work.  Upstairs a room with rows of cots hanging from the ceiling illustrates their living conditions, and was one of the many excellent sections of the museum.    The restaurant in the courtyard serves a good lunch too.  The museum was not far from our hotel, The Grace, in central Sydney, and close to many good, moderately priced restaurants.
Another must is the Rocks Walking Tour, which is convenient after a tour of the world renowned Opera House.  The now chic Rocks neighborhood, once in decline and redeveloped in the last few decades, is filled with au courant shops and cafes.  On the walk you go into the alleys behind the buildings and learn how the city was built. The Susanna Place Museum is a good follow up to the walk because you get inside working class houses of the 19th and early 20th century.   Walk north to a quiet adjacent neighborhood and have lunch at Lord Nelson’s Tavern.

by Emilie C. Harting

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