When the First Fleet Arrived at Sydney Cove, their food
stores were limited and certainly insufficient for the settlers and convicts
who had just arrived. The newcomers experienced difficulty farming the sandy
soil in the unfamiliar climate, so Governor Arthur Philip surveyed the land
along the Parramatta River to farm and settle because the freshwater made the
area more inhabitable, and the soil was less sandy there, which made it easier
to farm. Parramatta, which is located on the banks of the Parramatta River
about 23 kilometres west of Sydney’s CBD, was founded in 1788. It is considered
Australia’s oldest inland European settlement.
Governor Philip granted a parcel of land to James Ruse so that he could develop
Experiment Farm. Here, Ruse grew grain while nearby, another settler focused on
wool at his plot of land, which he named Elizabeth Farm. Although Sydney
quickly surpassed Parramatta in size and importance, it could never have
flourished without the success and support of this small farming district.
Although it was originally named Rose Hill, the suburb’s name was later changed
to Parramatta, which is similar to Burramatta, the name that was given to the
area by the original Aboriginal inhabitants. Governor Philip chose to build his
home here, and Governor Macquarie replaced it with a more elaborate home, which
survives to this day. Old Government House is now a museum, a historic site and
is considered the oldest surviving public building in Australia.
Government House is not the only important historic site in Parramatta. Many of
these sites date back to the 1700s and 1800s and include protected parklands,
churches, museums and monuments. Most of these sites are open to visitors.
These sites offer exhibitions, art, cultural, visitor information, educational
activities, historical artefacts, oral histories, interactive programs, videos
and other programs under one roof and trace the history of Parramatta from the
days of the Aboriginal inhabitants to the first European settlers to modern
After the two world wars, development exploded. The suburb today has one of the
largest CBDs in the country and is considered the economic capital of Greater
Western Sydney. Parramatta is home to the New South Wales police headquarters
and has extensive public transportation systems to help its residents move in
and around the area.
Visitors to Parramatta are often attracted to the waterfront where they can
explore the visitor’s centre or enjoy water sports. Some of Sydney’s best
restaurants are located in Parramatta, and although The Rocks is known as
Sydney’s oldest district, Parramatta has more heritage-listed buildings,
including many of the country’s oldest colonial buildings, which are open and
waiting to be explored.
Top Parramatta destinations include Elizabeth Farm, the oldest homestead in the
country, and Experiment Farm Cottage, which has survived since the beginning of
Parramatta and Governor Philip’s desire to create a sustainable settlement. Old
Government House is no longer a retreat for Sydney’s governors but is instead a
museum designed to take you back in time. Expansive parks, world-class
theatres, eclectic shopping, vibrant clubs, nature walks, bicycle trails,
galleries, cultural expositions and camping are all also popular here.