Shortly after the arrival of the British First Fleet in 1788, Governor Arthur Phillip established Parramatta as a market town to supply fresh produce to the new settlement at Sydney Cove. Parramatta then outshone Sydney as a cultural and social centre for a time.
As a result Parramatta has some excellent examples of early colonial architecture including Old Government House, Elizabeth Farm, St John’s Cathedral, the Lancer Barracks and the Linden House Museum. Today’s Parramatta is a modern city with a range of cafes and restaurants exploring cuisines from around the globe, large shopping centres, cinemas, theatre and the Rosehill Racecourse.
Parramatta is best a understood with a visit to the visitors centre which features Parramatta: People and Place, a major exhibition that traces the development of Parramatta, and can then be explored following a walking map.
Located just 6km west of Sydney Olympic Park, Parramatta is easily accessed on a picturesque Rivercat ferry ride up the western arm of Sydney Harbour. Stroll along the Harris Park Heritage Walk that links the Rivercat with historic properties in East Parramatta. The Riverside walk features Aboriginal artwork inviting you to explore the story of the Parramatta river.
Visit the Parramatta Heritage and Visitors Information Centre, the perfect starting point to experience the area known as “Sydney’s Living Museum”.
Catch a performance at the Parramatta Riverside Theatres, offering drama and comedy shows.
Have a flutter at nearby Rosehill Gardens, home of the famous Golden Slipper.
Step back in time at Old Government House (1799) home to the early governors and see some of the finest Australian colonial furniture in the country.
Experience life in the early colony at Elizabeth Farm (1793) and Experiment Farm Cottage (1834), built on the site of the first private land grant issued to ex-convict James Ruse.
Visit Australia’s oldest Christian cemetery next to St Johns Cathedral to see headstones of early convicts. You can also tour the cemetery at night on a Whispering Bones torchlight tour.
Visit Parramatta Park to experience the many historic sites such as the Governor’s Bathhouse and the Dairy Precinct