Parramatta was established in 1788 by the British and together with Sydney, became the oldest inland European settlement in Australia. It is now a major business district and suburb in Sydney’s metropolitan area with its own football team, racecourse and a thriving restaurant area. It is also home to Westfield Parramatta, Australia’s ninth-largest shopping centre. Parramatta Region offers an interesting insight into Australia’s early colonial life with its historic buildings, many of which have been adapted into museums.
Old Government House is Australia’s oldest public building, situated in 80 hectares of parkland and also one of 11 Australian Convict Sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The house’s central block was built by Governor John Hunter in 1799 and remained the country residence of 12 other governors for seven decades after that. Other significant buildings include Experiment Farm Cottage, which was the site of the first land grant, and Hambledon Cottage on the Elizabeth Farm Estate the former home of John and Elizabeth Macarthur, Australia’s first cattle farmer. Parramatta’s gardens and parks, originally convict farming grounds, are now popular picnic and walking spots.
A popular way to get to Parramatta is by a Rivercat ferry from Circular Quay which sails under the Sydney Harbour Bridge into the Parramatta River. The area is well served by both rail and buses from Fitzwilliam Street. Parramatta is 24 kilometres from central Sydney with good road connections including Parramatta Road, Victoria Road and the M4 Motorway.
Parramatta was originally called “Baramada” or “Burramatta” by the Darug people who lived in the area prior to the Europeans. The name means “the place where the eels lie down” and “head of waters” and still attracts eels and other sea creatures because of the water’s rich nutrients.