Penrith is a suburb in western Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Penrith is located west of the Sydney central business district and is the administrative centre for the local government area of the City of Penrith.
Penrith is a commercial centre, designated a major centre under the NSW Metropolitan Plan It lies east of the Nepean River, at the foot of the Blue Mountains, part of the Great Dividing Range. Penrith is colloquially known as 'The Riff'.
Penrith was named after the town of Penrith, Cumbria
. How it got the name is unclear. One theory is that in the early days, development in Penrith was entirely on one road, like the English Penrith, and someone familiar with both spotted the similarity and suggested the name. The earliest known written reference to the name Penrith dates back to 1819.
Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the Penrith area was home to the Mulgoa tribe of the Darug people
. They lived in makeshift huts called gunyahs
, hunted native animals such as kangaroos, fished in the Nepean River, and gathered local fruits and vegetables such as yams. They lived under an elaborate system of Law which had its origins in the Dreamtime
. Most of the Mulgoa were killed by smallpox
shortly after the arrival of the First Fleet
in 1788. Early British explorers such as Watkin Tench
described them as friendly, saying, "they bade us adieu, in unabated friendship and good humour".
Watkin Tench was the first British explorer to visit the area in 1789 and named the Nepean River
after Lord Evan Nepean
, under-secretary to the home department. Governor King
began granting land in the area to settlers in 1804 with Captain Daniel Woodriff's 1000 acres on the banks of the river the first land grant in the area. In 1814, William Cox
constructed a road
across the Blue Mountains
which passed through Woodriff's land at Penrith. Initial settlement in the area was unplanned but substantial enough for a courthouse to be established in 1817.
The post office was established in 1828, the Anglican church, St Stephens, was built in 1844 followed by the Catholic church, St Nicholas of Myra, in 1850. Two other prominent Penrith pioneers were Irish-born Thomas Jamison (1752/53-1811), a member of the First Fleet and surgeon-general of New South Wales (after whom Jamisontown is named), and his son, the landowner, physician and constitutional reformer Sir John Jamison (1776-1844). In 1824, Sir John erected the colony's finest Georgian mansion, Regentville House, near Penrith, on a ridge overlooking the Nepean River. Sir John established an impressive agricultural estate at Regentville and became a Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council. His grave can be seen in St Stephen's graveyard. Regentville House burned down in 1868 but most of its stonework was salvaged and used for building projects in and around Penrith.
Another well-known early settler was Thomas Frost (d. 1862) who arrived from Buckinghamshire in 1810. His wife Sarah had been baptised by Samuel Marsden and her brother, Robert Rope, was reputed to be the first European born in Australia. In a Petition to the governor of the colony, Sir Thomas Brisbane, on 13 October 1822, Thomas Frost declares that he is a Free Man and cultivates a farm on the Nepean River where he has a herd of 125 cattle. He mentions that the previous Governor, General Macquarie, was pleased to grant him, Thomas, a further 50 acres of land at Bathurst and he now craves the Governor's consent to drive cattle across the mountains to that property for pasturage. Frost's gravestone still stands in good condition in St. Stephen's Churchyard, Penrith.
The first bridge was opened over the Nepean in 1856 and was washed away the following year in a flood. The railway line was extended to Penrith in 1863, a school was established in 1865 and in 1871 the area became a municipality. It officially became a city in 1959.
Penrith is one of the major commercial centres in Greater Western Sydney
. Penrith hosts a number of shopping complexes
, the largest being Westfield Penrith
, formerly known as Penrith Plaza. The shopping centre features over 200 store ranging from department stores to specialty shops.
Penrith Railway Station
is a major railway station on the Western Line
of the CityRail
network. It has frequent services to and from the City and is also a minor stop on the intercity Blue Mountains Line.
Penrith railway station has its own bus interchange (as do several major railway stations in Sydney). Penrith is also served by Nightride Bus route 70.
Penrith can easily be accessed from St. Marys and Mt. Druitt via the Great Western Highway. Access from further east is best obtained by the M4 Western Motorway using either The Northern Road or Mulgoa Road exits. If travelling east from the Blue Mountains, access is best obtained by the Great Western Highway.
Access from the south can be obtained by The Northern Road and Mulgoa Road, north from Castlereagh road or Richmond road, or from north and south via Westlink M7 and the M4 Western Motorway.
Penrith has two public schools. Penrith Primary School and Penrith High School
are situated next door to each other in High Street. There is also a Catholic primary school, St Nicholas of Myra (which is part of Catholic Education, Diocese of Parramatta
), located in Higgins Street.
There are a few options for people interested in post-secondary education. The Penrith campus of Nepean College of TAFE is located in the centre of town on Henry Street. The Penrith campus of the University of Western Sydney is located in nearby Werrington.
Landmarks and tourist attractions
The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Complex is in High Street next to the Council Chambers. Named after opera
singer Joan Sutherland
, the building was designed by architect Philip Cox
and opened in 1990. It incorporates the Penrith Conservatorium of Music and the Q Theatre, which had been operating in Railway Street for 30 years before moving to the complex in 2006.
Sport and Recreation
Penrith has a number of local sporting clubs, the most well known being the Penrith Panthers rugby league
club who play in the National Rugby League
. The club (one of the largest in Australia) has a massive entertainment complex and resort, Panthers World of Entertainment
. Penrith's Junior Rugby League competition is the largest in the world, which also incorporates teams from the Blue Mountains, Blacktown and Windsor/Richmond areas. Visit the Penrith Junior League Website
for more information.
Penrith is now also home to a soccer club, Penrith Nepean United The club has been quite successful, perhaps the team's most memorable result has been a 2-1 Win against Asian Champions League contenders Sydney FC in a home game friendly match in front of 5000 fans on August the 17th 2007.
The city is also home to the Penrith Lakes Scheme, a system of flooded quarries that are now recreational lakes. One of these lakes hosted the rowing events of the Sydney 2000 Olympics. This facility is rated as a Level One course which can be used for international events . The course itself is fully buoyed and can be modified to accommodate swimming and kayaking events.
There are also many other sporting associations, including cricket clubs, AFL clubs and swimming clubs. Penrith is also home to the Penrith City Outlaws, Penrith's own gridiron team Penrith is also home to the Penrith Panthers Triathlon club For a full list see the Penrith City Council's list of sporting groups
Penrith is home to Kick 87.6
and community radio
station Wow FM 100.7
Penrith sits on the western edge of the Cumberland Plain
, a fairly flat area of Western Sydney, extending to Windsor
in the north, Parramatta
in the east and Thirlmere
in the south. The Nepean River
forms the western boundary of the suburb and beyond that, dominating the western skyline, are the Blue Mountains
. There is a difference of opinion between Penrith City Council
and the Geographical Names Board of New South Wales
as to the boundaries of Penrith the suburb. The Board includes in its official description the area of Kingswood Park, Lemongrove and North Penrith, which the Council considers separate suburbs.
The climate is warm temperate, similar to Sydney (Observatory Hill) although usually a few degrees warmer on summer days and a few degrees cooler on winter nights. In extreme cases, there could be a temperature differential of 10 degrees Celsius in summer due to sea breezes, which do not usually penetrate inland to the Nepean. Mean Summer temperatures are 18°C to 30°C and in the Winter 6°C to 18 °C. Median
yearly rainfall is 710.1 millimetres
, which is less than Sydney (Observatory Hill), as coastal showers do not penetrate inland. The highest recorded temperature is 46.0°C in January 2001.
According to the 2006 census
conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics
, Penrith had a population of 11,396. The median household income of $755 per week was substantially lower than average ($1027). Almost half of all dwellings were rented (49%), almost double the national average (27%), and around a quarter of rented properties were rented from the NSW Department of Housing. Apart from English, no language was spoken by more than 1% of the population with Arabic
(0.9%) topping the list. Of people born overseas, three of the top five countries were England, New Zealand and Scotland with India (1.0%) the leading non-English speaking country of birth.
The following were all born in or resident in Penrith:
There are a number of websites which contain information about Penrith: