Visited: Sept 16, 2014
Site Type: Cultural
Background and Opinion:
Before passing by Sydney on a long layover from Malaysia to New Zealand, my knowledge of Australian history was limited. To my understanding, thousands and thousands of prisoners were pretty much dropped off in this new British territory to fend for themselves. A century or two later, they somehow escaped, became advanced, and had the will to fight in WW2 all the while becoming a first world country.
Needless to say, Australian history does not get a whole lot of coverage in American history books so I was
extremely excited and delighted mildly interested (no need to BS you) in finding out what actually happened. After visiting the convict site in Sydney, I think I now know LESS and am more confused than I was before.
The Sydney prison consists of two buildings a modest walk away from the Opera House. While the nearby library and church were very interesting, I cannot believe how bored I was here. Nothing particularly fascinating is said at all and the site pretty much explains the mundane tasks that prisoners do IN PRETTY MUCH ANY PRISON! There were also signs like “here is where the warden lived” and the like, but to get the full experience, you have to pay $10 Aussie dollars. For a museum that reminded me of the ‘coal museum’ in Taebaeksan, Korea, I might not have even entered if it were free. I passed and did my best to look all around at the free stuff. I will say this, the bathrooms were excellent and I did come back for a second flush!
I am very sorry to say that I do not think the Australian Convict Sites (at least the one in Sydney) are worth your time. I don’t think I have ever said that about a UNESCO World Heritage Site (well, maybe the Last Supper) but that’s just how I feel and am in no mood to sugar coat it. I mean, just reading the description on UNESCO’s own website, it is hard not to see how repetitive they get as if they too are bored talking about it.
1) Completeness and Originality (3 out of 15): The main building remains, but much of it is destroyed.
2) Extensiveness of the Site (0 out of 15): Not sure I even took an hour.
3) Cultural Significance (3 out of 25): This is definitely arguable. UNESCO lists it for its contributions to the British Empire. Personally, I think it was what came after, not the prisons themselves, that are a testament.
4) Personal Impact (0 out of 15):
5) Logistics (2 out of 10): Easy to reach, but 10 dollars for the museum. C’mon now.
6) Uniqueness (1 out of 20): Alcatraz, Holocaust Camps, the list goes on and on for more iconic and historically important prisons, but its subjective.
Combined Score: 9/100
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