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Hyde Park Barracks Cafe, Sydney CBD

Hyde Park Barracks Cafe on Urbanspoon
Remniscient of a manor in countryside Britain, this preserved building now houses a delightful venue to meet up for meals in Sydney's own colonial quarter.

Times were not exactly as hoped for. The natives did not pose a strong threat to colonial interests as in the nearby South Pacific and the climate was more benign than Mother England.  Still, there were concerns about sustaining a viable fresh food and water supply, the hinterland was mostly unknown and the Euro adventure powers were fighting amongst themselves on the sea routes leading to this land.  The motley make up of the settlers ranged from teenagers convicted for stealing a loaf of bread in London to the well heeled males of ambition and power representing the government of the harbour settlement.  This was yet another new frontier, after the American colonies were lost and the next stage of possibilities away from the sultry climes of the Equatorial spice islands.  Here was a huge basin, with a river that ran inland and with a landscape of hills, bays and creeks - the home of the Eora. And so began the story of the British settlement of Sydney.  Three main clans of indigenous tribe already were there before the advent of Governor Macquarie - the Cammeraygal, the Wanegal and the Cadigal.  The well known Bennelong, remembered today near the Sydney Opera House,belonged to the Wanegals.

Beautiful fresh produce are critical to a memorable breakfast.

Today, the grounds of modern day Hyde Park Barracks are free to explore for any visitor.  Located at the north-eastern corner of Sydney CBD, they are located on high ground, with the obvious advantage to ward off military attacks.  Sandstone was and is prevalent - lending stability and solidity to the constructions of a new colony around 225 years ago.   Hyde Park lay in the realm of the Cadigal peoples.  The Barracks were constructed to house convict men and boys - and the architect Francis Greenway himself was one of them.  Surrounded by Queens Square and Macquarie Street, the brick buildings were later utilised to accommodate destitute women. The occasion of the 50th anniversary of the reign of Queen Victoria was an opportunity to refurbish this area - which was renamed the Chancery Square.  What were once working courts, offices and corridors has now been assigned as a living museum in the 21st century.

Hidden delights of heritage architecture can amaze visitors to the Cafe.

One specific  building houses the Hyde Park Barracks Cafe, open for breakfast, high tea and lunch.  The site suggests a theme of heritage for weddings, gatherings and dress up.  The menu however has touches of the Mediterranean instead of just only scones and English tea - you can have your panini,  yogurt Pannacotta and afagato, in addition to Eggs Benedict, cheesecakes and poached salmon.  there are also modern Australian variations like twice cooked pork belly omelette, pan fried duck breast and crispy skin barramundi fillet - hmmn, stirring memories of Salamanca Place in Hobart, Tasmania.  All day available dessert items include sorbets, gelatos, apple date and almond cigars, gananche tarts, flourless cake and mango parfait.  The cuisine suggests of country side air and ambiance, but you could be in David Jones department store, Pitt Street mall and Chinatown within half an hour's walking distance.

Only Italian design can complement so well with Australian sand stone.

Attestation to the influences of immigration, the surroundings not only echo colonial history, but Italian charm, Irish famine, modern chic and architecture of government.  The green lung of Sydney CBD, Hyde Park itself, literally is across the road, with its War Memorial, giant chess set and evening summer Noodles Market.  The park is the oldest public parkland in Australia. Notable  icons to visit in this area are the Australian Museum, St. Mary's Cathedral, the Obelisk, the Supreme Court of New South Wales and the Sydney Grammar School.  Londoners have no uncertainty as to the origin of the name of the Park - and this same penchant for naming streets and places in the Antipodes after places in Britain itself is replicated in almost every corner of modern day Australia.

Turbulent times in old Ireland are respectfully remembered near the Cafe.

The regulars do get their cuppa in the early morning.

Cafe staff Trudy was chatty and friendly even at breakfast time. By sheer coincidence, she used to reside in the Wollongong area but now dwells in inner city Sydney.  In the cafe, you can observe the outside world through colonial fashioned glass windows but there are not many passers-by here, adding to a quaint sense of remoteness even when you are in Australia's largest conurbation. could this cafe do more to attract regulars, perhaps by holding themed nights, special tours for kids and tourists, or by holding dear its heritage advantage than just naming a breakfast as convict?  The question is whether guests come here to find a refuge or to have a party.

A selection labelled the Convict, but with modern Australian produce.

This precinct does offer a feel and time different from the more crowded parts of Sydney city centre. As a collective experience, institutions, businesses and public places here have to do more than rely on heritage and food. Yes, there are annual events like Light Up Sydney which magically transforms this area on early winter nights. The area benefits from events held at Sydney Harbour like the massive fireworks on New Year's Eve and the recent Naval Review.  The big question is how to draw individuals back and not just to come to the place once or only revisit after a long period of time.

Bricked fireplaces open to the inspection of visitors after a meal at the Cafe.


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