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Parramatta Walk

Sydney sightseeing

This walk covers some ten kilometres and needs three hours, or considerably longer if one wishes to visit any of the historical sites en route. First get to Parramatta either by ferry or by train. The latter takes half an hour from the city centre by the fastest trains. The ferry takes nearly an hour but is an enjoyable scenic journey. If you arrive by train, exit on the north side of the station, noting, almost opposite, the Lancers
Barracks and Linden House Museum.


The Barracks were built in 1818 and formerly housed the New South Wales Lancers, the first cavalry regiment in Australia. The history of the regiment is on display inside the Linden House Museum, a building originally constructed in 1828, but moved here from a site in Macquarie Street about 500 metres away. It is open only on Sundays between 11am and 4pm. Now turn right into Station Street, immediately left into Hassall Street and left into Charles Street, which will lead to the Parramatta River and the ferry terminal. Turn left, or, for ferry passengers, proceed in the direction in which you were travelling along the river.


You can walk on either side of the river, but eventually you will want to be on the other side, so cross over a bridge of your choice on the way. This is Riverside Walk, designed to give an aboriginal interpretation of the river, as you will see from the patterns on the footpaths. Just before Lennox Bridge, built by convict labour in 1836 to 1839 and over which Church Street runs, you will find the Parramatta Heritage Centre and Visitors Information Centre on the northern (far) side. It combines art, craft and history exhibitions with the dispensation of tourist information and has a copy of an 1844 map of the city laid into the floor. Admission is free.


After your visit there, come back along Church Street over the sandstone Lennox Bridge, the oldest bridge in Parramatta, and turn right into Phillip Street, then left into Marsden Street. On the next corner is Brislington, the oldest residence in central Parramatta, built in 1821 by an ex-convict named John Hodges. It was operated by the members of a single family as a doctor’s surgery for almost a century, but now it is a hospital museum, open only on the first and third Sunday in the month and the second and last Thursday, in both cases from 10.30 until 3.30. Turn right into George Street and you will see the George Street Gatehouse at the entrance to Parramatta Park. This has been the principal entrance to the park since 1788, but the gate itself, known because of its design as Tudor Gate, was constructed in 1885. Just inside the park, you will find Old Government House. Governor Phillip built a cottage here in 1790, only two years after the arrival of the first European settlers. The foundations of this building can be seen, but the present edifice was constructed between 1799 and 1818 and inhabited by Governors Hunter and Macquarie. Now it contains an outstanding collection of colonial furniture. It is open from 10:00 (11:00 at weekends) until 4pm daily. Continue beside the river through the park, much of which was originally farming land, and, before that, the home of the Burramatta aborigines. You will reach Dairy Cottage, built between 1798 and 1806 and one of Australia’s oldest buildings. It was converted into a dairy by Governor Macquarie. Dairy Cottage is open from 10:00 until 15:00 daily. A little further on is the Burramatta Visitors Centre, also open from 10am until 4pm daily, with free admission. Walk round the park and return this time to the Macquarie Street Gatehouse which dates from 1887 and has the appearance of a rural cottage.


Walk ahead for one block and then turn right into O’Connell Street. Soon after crossing over the railway, you will come to St. John’s Cemetery on your right. This is the oldest Christian graveyard in Australia and it contains the country’s oldest marked grave, that of Henry Dodd, a servant of Governor Phillip, who was interred here in 1791. Leaving the cemetery, walk almost straight ahead along Aird Street, and then turn left into Marsden Street and back across the railway. On your right now is St. John’s Cathedral, in Hunter Street. This has been used as a church site since 1803. The two spires were built by convict labour and date from 1819. They are the oldest church spires in Australia. The cathedral owns a bible printed in 1599 and an embroidery of a service in the first church here in the 1840s. The font has Maori carvings. The cathedral
is open every day and offers guided tours on Thursdays and Fridays. Walk now to Church Street, which is for pedestrians only at this point, and continue north to George Street, where turn right. Soon you will reach the Spanish style Village Roxy Theatre, which has been in operation as a cinema since 1930, at which time it was one of the most modern of picture palaces. It no longer has that distinction, but its ornate architecture merits a look inside. Continue down George Street to Harris Street, then turn right. On reaching Ruse Street, turn left.


On your right at 9, Ruse Street is Experiment Farm Cottage. The street was named after James Ruse, an ex-convict granted land here in 1791, who created Australia’s first private farm. Experiment Farm Cottage has an exhibition on his life. The cottage itself was built in 1834 by the Colonial Surgeon, John Harris, and now contains furniture from the 1830s. It is open on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am (11am on Sundays) until 4pm, admission charges apply.


Retrace your steps for a short distance to Harris Street and turn right into Parkes Street, which runs into Hassall Street. On your right is Hambledon Cottage, the former abode of Penelope Lucas, governess to the daughters of John and Elizabeth Macarthur, the owners of Elizabeth Farm, our next stop. Hambledon Cottage, at 63, Hassall Street, was built in 1824 and is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and weekends from 11:00 until 16:00. Admission costs $3. Continue just a short distance along Hassall Street and then turn right into Gregory Place, at the end of which there is a path connecting to Alfred Street. Turn right and then immediately left into Alice Street, where, at no. 70, you can find Elizabeth Farm, the home of John and Elizabeth Macarthur, Australia’s first pastoralists. Parts of the building date from 1793, making these parts the oldest European construction remaining in the country. There is also what is claimed to be the oldest olive tree in Australia, a tree which produced its first fruit in 1805. Elizabeth Farm is open from 10:00 until 17:00 and admission charges apply, or the Ticket Through Time can be used, covering eleven museums. From here, continue to the end of Alice Street, turn right into Arthur Street and left into Weston Street. Ahead is Rosehill Station, with the Rosehill Racecourse on the other side. Trains run from here one station south to Clyde, from where there is a frequent service back to the city.


Click here for the Parramatta Map.


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