Parramatta is a suburb in the west of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It sits on the bank of the Parramatta River, west of the Sydney central business district, approximately at the geographical centre of its metropolitan area. It is known colloquially as 'Parra'.
Parramatta is the administrative seat of the Local Government Area (LGA) of the City of Parramatta. Part of the suburb is shared with the City of Holroyd LGA. It is a major urban centre of New South Wales; the economic capital of Greater Western Sydney; and the sixth largest central business district in Australia.
Since 2000, Parramatta has seen the consolidation of its role as a government centre with the relocation of agencies such as the New South Wales Police Force headquarters, and Sydney Water in 2009, from the Sydney CBD. Simultaneously, major upgrades have occurred around the railway station with the expansion of Westfield Parramatta, the creation of a new transport interchange, and the ongoing development of the Civic Place local government precinct.
The Darug people
had lived in the area for many generations, and regarded the area as a food bowl, rich in food from the river and forests. They called the area Baramada or Burramatta ('Parramatta') which means "head of waters or "the place where the eels lie down". To this day there is a plentitude of eels and other sea creatures attracted to the profusion of nutrients created by the saltwater of Sydney Harbour
meeting the freshwater of the Parramatta River
's catchment. The eel has been adopted as the symbol of the Parramatta Eels Rugby League
Parramatta was founded in 1788, the same year as Sydney. The British Colony, which had arrived in January 1788 in the First Fleet
at Sydney Cove
, had only enough food to support itself for a short time and the soil around Sydney Cove proved too poor to grow the amount of food that 1,000 convicts
, soldiers and administrators needed to survive. During 1788, Governor Arthur Phillip
had reconnoitred several places before choosing Parramatta as the most likely place for a successful large farm. Parramatta was the furthest navigable point inland on the Parramatta River (i.e. furthest from the thin, sandy coastal soil) and also the point at which the river became freshwater and therefore useful for farming.
On Sunday 2 November 1788, Governor Phillip took a detachment of marines along with a surveyor and, in boats, made his way upriver to a location that he called The Crescent, a defensible hill curved round a river bend, now in Parramatta Park. As a settlement developed, Governor Phillip gave it the name "Rose Hill" (now used for a nearby suburb) which in 1791 he changed to Parramatta, approximating the term used by the local Aboriginal people.
In an attempt to deal with the food crisis, Phillip in 1789 granted a convict named James Ruse the land of Experiment Farm at Parramatta on the condition that he develop a viable agriculture. There Ruse became the first person to successfully grow grain in Australia. The Parramatta area was also the site of John Macarthur's pioneering of the Australian wool industry at Elizabeth Farm in the 1790s.
Governor Arthur Phillip built a small house for himself on the hill of The Crescent. In 1799 this was replaced by a larger residence which, substantially improved by Governor Lachlan Macquarie from 1815 to 1818, has survived to the present day, used as a retreat by Governors until the 1850s with one Governor (Governor Brisbane) making it his principal home for a short period in the 1820s. The house, Old Government House, is currently a historic site and museum within Parramatta Park and is Australia's oldest surviving public building.
Parramatta has many buildings on the Register of the National Estate, including: Elizabeth Farm House
, Experiment Farm Cottage, Lancer Barracks, Parramatta Town Hall, the former Post Office in Church Street, Centennial Clock, Lennox Bridge
, St John's Cathedral, St John's Cemetery, St Patrick's Cathedral, Parochial School in Elizabeth Street, Arthur Phillip High School, Macarthur House
, Brislington in Marsden Street, Hambledon in Hassall Street, former King's School Group, Roman Catholic Cemetery in North Parramatta, Parramatta Psychiatric Centre, Parramatta Park, All Saints Church Group (Source: The Heritage of Australia, Macmillan Company, 1981)
Parramatta is a major business and commercial centre, sometimes called Sydney's "second central business district". Parramatta has many high density commercial and residential developments. It is home to Westfield Parramatta, which is the third largest shopping centre in Australia. Church Street is home to many shops and restaurants. The northern end of Church Street, close to Lennox Bridge, features al fresco dining with a diverse range of cuisines. The southern end of Church Street, past Westfield is known as Auto Alley for the prevalence of car dealerships. Parramatta Town Hall stands in the heart of the city in 'Church Street Mall'.
Since 2000, Parramatta has seen the consolidation of its role as a government centre, with the relocation of agencies such as the New South Wales Police Force
Headquarters and the Sydney Water Corporation in 2009 from Sydney CBD
. At the same time, major construction work occurred around the railway station
with the expansion of Westfield Shoppingtown, the creation of a new transport interchange and the ongoing development of the Civic Place local government precinct. Numerous private businesses have also relocated their offices to Parramatta.
Parramatta is the legal hub of western Sydney.
- The Garfield Barwick Commonwealth Law Courts Building, on the corner of George and O'Connell Streets, houses the Federal Magistrates Court and the Family Court of Australia.
- Directly opposite stands the multi-million dollar Parramatta Justice Precinct, containing the Children's Court of New South Wales and the Sydney West Trial Courts.
- Nearby on Marsden Street is the headquarters of the New South Wales Police Force, the Parramatta Court House and the Drug Court of New South Wales.
- Further north on O'Connell Street, Parramatta Gaol is Australia's oldest prison. Today it is known as the Parramatta Correctional Centre and functions as a short-term detention centre . The gaol's more infamous guests over the years have included Chopper Read and Neddy Smith .
Parramatta railway station is a major transport interchange on the CityRail network. It is served by the Blue Mountains line, Cumberland line and the Western line. The station was originally opened on July 4, 1860, five years after the first railway line in Sydney was opened in 1855, running from Sydney to Parramatta Junction. It was recently upgraded, with work beginning in late 2003 and the new interchange opening on February 19, 2006.
The Parramatta ferry wharf is at the Charles Street Weir, which divides the tidal saltwater from the freshwater of the upper river, on the eastern boundary of the Central Business District. The wharf is the westernmost destination of the Sydney Ferries River Cat ferry service which runs on Parramatta River.
The Great Western Highway and Parramatta Road have always been important roads for Parramatta and Greater Sydney. The M4 Western Motorway has taken much of the traffic away from these roads, with entrance and exit ramps close to Parramatta.
Places of worship
Church Street takes its name from St Johns Cathedral (Anglican), which was built in 1803 and is the oldest church in Parramatta. While the present building is not the first on the site, the towers were built during the time of Governor Macquarie . The historic St Johns Cemetery is located nearby on O'Connell Street.
St Patrick's Cathedral (Roman Catholic) is the one of the oldest Catholic churches in Australia. Construction commenced in 1837, but it wasn't officially complete until 1837. In 1936 a new church was built on the site to meet the needs of a growing congregation. It was destroyed by fire in 1996, with only the stone walls remaining. On 29 November 2003, the new St Patrick’s Cathedral was dedicated. The historic St Patricks Cemetery is located in North Parramatta.
Parramatta Salvation Army is one of the oldest active Salvation Army Corps in Australia. Parramatta is also home to the Parramatta and Districts Synagogue, which services the Jewish community of western Sydney.
Parramatta High School
was the first coeducational school in the Sydney Metropolitan area, established in 1913. Arthur Phillip High School
is the oldest public school in the district, established in 1875 (initially a boys' school, later became coeducational). Other schools include Macarthur Girls High School
, Parramatta Public School, St Patrick's Primary Parramatta, Parramatta East Public School, Clare Catholic High School, Our Lady of Mercy College
(OLMC) and The Kings School, Parramatta
The University of Western Sydney's Parramatta campus occupies the site of the historic Female Orphan School.
Parramatta Park is a large park adjacent to Parramatta Stadium. It was formerly the Governor's Domain and contains Old Government House, as mentioned above. Another feature is the natural amphitheatre located on one of the bends of the river, named by Governor Philip as "the Crescent", which is used to stage concerts. Over 120 bird species have been recorded there. It is home to the Dairy Cottage, built from 1798 to 1805, originally a single-room cottage and is one of the earliest surviving cottages in Australia. It was built for ex-convict George Salter. Between 1914 and 1816 it was converted to a dairy. The Tudor Gatehouse, on O'Connell Street, was erected by the Park Trust in 1885 and designed by Gordon McKinnon. It was restored in 1980. The remains of Governor Brisbane's observatory are visible, constructed in 1822. Notable astronomers at the observatory include James Dunlop and Christian Carl Rumker. In 1822 the architect S. L. Harris designed the Bath House for Governor Brisbane and built it in 1823. Water was pumped to the building through lead pipes from the river. In 1886, it was converted into a pavilion.
Lake Parramatta is a 10-hectare reserve, based around a former reservoir. The catchment area for the lake is bounded by North Rocks Road, Pennant Hills Road and Hunts Creek. The entrance is from Lackey Street, North Parramatta.Parramatta River runs through the suburb in an easterly direction.
- Parramatta Park is a popular venue for walking, jogging and bike riding, around Lake Parramatta.
- The Parramatta Swimming Centre is a busy place in the warmer months. It is currently undergoing a $7 million redevelopment program and is due to re-open in late 2008
- Rosehill Gardens Racecourse hosts some of the most important events on the Australian horse racing calendar, including the prestigious Golden Slipper.
- Parramatta City Raceway hosts national and international sprintcar championships .
- Parramatta Stadium is home to the Parramatta Eels rugby league team.
According to the 2006 census
conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics
, Parramatta had a population of 18,448 with the average age 30, compared to a national average of 37. Place of birth of 57.6% of residents was overseas, including 14.1% from India
and 12.8% from China
. Apart from English, the most common languages spoken were Mandarin
(5.1%) and Gujarati
(3.2%). The religious affiliation responses were Catholic
(21.3%), No Religion
(7.4%) and Islam
The majority of dwellings in Parramatta were apartments (72%), compared to a national average of 14%, and 58% of all dwellings were rented compared to a national average of 27%. The average rent in Parramatta was $230 per week slightly higher than the national average of $190 but then the average weekly wage of $482 was also slightly higher than average ($466).