Up on the third floor of The Barracks is the hammock room. This is a brilliant idea by the historians to bring history to life. Classes of school children, and community groups, are invited (for a cost!) to stay over for the night and experience life as we think it may have been for the early inhabitants of our city.
Hyde Park Barracks was a form of gaol. I guess. This is where convicts were housed durng the night and before they went out on their work gangs over Sydney town. It housed convicts for only 30 years. Only! It must have seemed an eternity to those poor blighters.
When it was converted into a museum in the 1970s and 80s, it was stripped back and everything under the floor boards saw the light of day. I got a real feel for the paucity of their existence as I wandered the rooms. Sydney Town at that time sprang to life in my imagination. Sydney has a short history, and its early population could be regarded as the 'dregs' of London of the time. However, those years from 1788 to 1821 set the national psyche up until more recent times.
As I stumbled back out into the sunshine of the present, I came face to face with a couple singing along to the drone of a hurdy-gurdy. This instrument is not everyone's cup-of-tea, but it does recreate the sounds of the times. A Hurdy Gurdy is a wheel fiddle. The sound is made by hand cranking a wooden wheel that acts as an endless violin bow, sounding drone strings and melody (chanterelle) strings. Wooden tangents are pushed against the melody strings, stopping them at different points to produce the different notes. Note the marvellous head on this model.