Alcohol Bottle

Early to mid-nineteenth century

Recovered from beneath the ground floor of Hyde Park Barracks, this dark olive glass alcohol bottle which once contained wine, spirits or beer, suggests that, despite the rules, convicts smuggled alcohol into the Barracks. Rum or other spirits commonly watered down and mixed with molasses, tobacco and even vitriol (sulphuric acid), was the convict’s poison of choice - a drink known as ‘grog’. Escaping from the Barracks during the evening to join others at the public houses (pubs) and ‘sly grog’ shops around the town provided a relief from the daily drudgery of the convict’s existence. In their own ‘flash’ slang language, the convicts had several ways to describe those who had been imbibing excessively, including floor’d (so drunk, as to be incapable of standing), spoony (a man who has been drinking till he becomes disgusting by his very ridiculous behaviour); and lushy-cove (a drunken man).

…no Spiritous Liquors, Wine, Ale, or Porter, shall, on any Pretence whatever be suffered to be brought into the Barracks, excepting for the domestic use of the Deputy Superintendent…

Governor Lachlan Macquarie, Government and General Orders, Sydney Gazette, 8 May 1819, 1.

Published on 
Convict Sydney, Level 1, Hyde Park Barracks Museum
Convict Sydney


These convict-era objects and archaeological artefacts found at Hyde Park Barracks and The Mint (Rum Hospital) are among the rarest and most personal artefacts to have survived from Australia’s early convict period

Close up of a ceramic bottle. This item was featured in one of our virtual excursions.

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West elevation (front) of Hyde Park Barracks, from across Queens Square

Hyde Park Barracks

UNESCO World Heritage convict site