Parramatta is on the upper reaches of the Parramatta River, that flows into Sydney Harbour. It was inhabited by the Barramatugal Aboriginal people. Originally called Rose Hill by the Europeans, the name was changed in line with a colonial policy of using Aboriginal names for places already named by Aboriginal people. Parramatta is likely a variation on Barramatugal.
Parramatta was the earliest vice-regal home of colonial Sydney. An agricultural settlement was established there within weeks of the first fleet arriving from Britain. The present day Sydney CBD was established as the colony’s port settlement to service the more desirable Parramatta which became the preferred home of governors and the privileged free settlers in the early years of the colony. Sydney soon began to eclipse Parramatta in both size and importance over the next century, however it was the establishment of Parramatta that allowed the future global city to survive and then thrive.
Fast forward to the 20th Century.Parramatta became less of a discrete town or city following post-WWII suburban development, and as such became the centre of Western Sydney. It is now recognised as Sydney’s “Second CBD” with many companies and state government departments having their headquarters exclusively in the rapidly consolidating city.
In the 21st Century, Parramatta again serves the whole of Sydney as an economic powerhouse constituting a large percentage of Sydney’s economic output and workforce.
Parramatta is again looking to its waterfront as a centre of community activity, with the tourist information centre itself located next to the Lennox Bridge on the river. The city celebrates its vibrant multicultural community, and the eat street along Church Street at night makes it one of the best places to dine in Sydney. Most of Australia’s earliest colonial buildings remain standing and open for visitation. In fact, there are more heritage listed buildings in Parramatta than Sydney’s historic Rocks quarter.
Parramatta has elegant parks, the world class Riverside Theatres, and other attractions that make it a must-see destination within Greater Sydney. The ferry trip under the Harbour Bridge and up the Parramatta River makes the trip to Parramatta worthwhile simply for the journey itself.
There are many more attractions for the visitor to discover, and Parramatta is indeed one of Australia’s best kept tourism secrets.