Parramatta is a western district of Sydney, a city in its own right within the Sydney Metropolitan Area and the second oldest European settlement on the Australian mainland.

Located 24 km from Sydney CBD and just 6 km from Sydney Olympic Park, Parramatta is both the demographic heart of the Harbour City and one of its most historic neighbourhoods.


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.


The climate of Parramatta is very similar to Sydney, but the cooling effect of the Sydney seabreeze on hot summer days has its limit at around Homebush Bay. There is only a 1-2 degree difference cooler in Winter and warmer in Summer.

Get in

The Parramatta River at Parramatta

By car

Parramatta is located next to the M4 motorway (Metroad 4). Parramatta is well signposted from the motorway. Surrounding suburbs also have signposted exits from the city.

If you are in no hurry you can use Victoria Rd or Parramatta Rd. Traffic between Sydney City and Parramatta during peak hours can be extremely slow. Easily twice as long as the time taken for the trip during off-peak times.

By train

Parramatta is well served by [ T1 Western Line trains] to Central Sydney & the North Shore. Trains run at least every 10 minutes and take 30 minutes for the trip. From the City, single fares cost $5.40.

Penrith, Blacktown, Richmond and Strathfield are also on the T1 Western Line, making trips to these centres quick and simple. Trains to and from the Blue Mountains on the Blue Mountains Line also stop at Parramatta.

Connections to Campbelltown and Liverpool can be made by changing at Granville outside peak times. In peak hours, there are services on the Cumberland Line which travels directly to Campbelltown and Liverpool. Sydney Olympic Park can be reached by changing at Lidcombe for the "Olympic Sprint" train.

By bus

Parramatta is a hub for many buses, which operate from a bus interchange near the station. If you coming from the city, or near a train station, the train will usually be quicker than the bus.

By ferry

The Rivercat Ferry on its way to Parramatta

The Rivercat ferry service runs between Circular Quay to the Charles Street Wharf. Its a very pretty and relaxing way to for a traveller to visit. It takes a fair bit longer and costs more than the train, if you have already "done" the harbour. Note that the ferry will not go all the way to Parramatta when river levels are too low, and you will have to swap to a bus at Rydalmere. It is about five minutes walk to the centre of Parramatta from the wharf.

At $7.20 for a one way trip, it is an expensive trip or a cheap 30 minute harbour cruise, depending on which way you look at it.

By bicycle

The Parramatta Valley cycleway offers off-road and quiet road cycling to Parramatta from Sydney Olympic Park and Putney. It is quite well signposted, and should be possible to cycle without a map. It has pretty sections following the Parramatta river from Putney and Sydney Olympic Park as far as Rydalmere, passing by University of Western Sydney and a small industrial area before the residential streets of Parramatta. It would be quite possible to hire bicycles from Sydney Olympic Park and cycle to Parramatta if you would like a bit of a ride. The bicycle will come in handy to see the sights of Parramatta as well.

Starting from Pyrmont Bridge in the city, and following the signed route towards Drummoyne, Gladesville, Putney and then Parramatta it is also possible to cycle from the City to Parramatta on off-road or on quiet roads, the circuitous route is nearly 30km, but you miss the a couple of hairy sections around Concord that the more direct route encounters.

Although not as scenic, the Parramatta to Liverpool Railtrail links Parramatta with Liverpool on largely off-road paths. The off-road cycleway extends from Parramatta all the way to Windsor through Westmead and along Old Windsor Road.

Get around

By bus

  1. Parramatta Station (Darcy Street, other side of the station from Westfield).
  2. Westfield (Argyle Street) Westfield shopping Centre, Church Street Mall/
  3. Law Courts (Marsden Street - south) Parramatta Park
  4. Cathedral (Marsden Street - north) St Patricks Cathedral, Prince Alfred Park, Riverside Theatres
  5. Leagues Club (OConnell Street) Parramatta Swimming Centre, Parramatta Stadium and Leagues Club, Parramatta Park
  6. Church Street North (Church Street - north)
  7. Prince Alfred Park (Church Street - mid) Prince Alfred Park, Riverside Theatres, Parramatta Heritage and Visitors Centre
  8. Lennox Bridge (Church Street - south) Eat Street, Riverside Theatres, Parramatta Heritage and Visitors Centre, River Walk
  9. Phillip Street (Phillip Street - west) Retail, Eat Street and Dining
  10. The Wharf (Phillip Street - east) Parramatta Wharf -Rivercat Terminal, River Walk, Harris Park Heritage Walk
  11. Charles Street, Commercial Offices
  12. Macquarie Street, Post Office, Commercial Services and Retail, Lancer Barracks and Military Museum

By foot

The CBD area of Parramatta is quite small and can be easily walked.

By train

Parramatta has one main railway station. Its suburbs of Harris Park, Granville, Rosehill and Westmead also have railway stations.

Westmead station is on the Western Line and can be accessed by taking a train west from Parramatta (towards Blacktown, Penrith, or Richmond). Harris Park and Granville are also on the Western Line and can be accessed by taking a train east from Parramatta (towards the city). Rosehill is on the Carlingford Line and requires taking a train east from Parramatta to Clyde station and then changing trains one stop to Rosehill. Note that although Rosehill is closer to some attractions like the Rosehill Racecourse, the Carlingford Line is only served hourly by trains outside of peak times due to extremely low usage and it's single track bottleneck. You can walk to Rosehill from Parramatta in less than half an hour, and to Harris Park in around 15 minutes.

By car

There is a general shortage of on-street and free parking in Parramatta. Expect to have difficulty parking in the CBD on weekdays, and near the shops on weekends. Paid parking is usually available and is considerably cheaper than in the Sydney CBD. Westfield has free parking for the first three hours.


The Parramatta Tourist information and Heritage Centre, is where Church St crosses the river at Lennox Bridge. It has a free exhibition showing the history of Parramatta from colonial to modern times.

Historical Landmarks

As Parramatta was the first site of European settlement outside Sydney it contains many historical landmarks. How interesting this is to you, will depend on your historical perspectives. The oldest buildings here date to the colonial settlement in the early to mid 1800's. Old Government House, and Elizabeth Farm are the two primary historical sites. (Topp Tours conduct guided tours of Parramatta landmarks as does Past Times Tours)

Open to Visit

The Old Government House
Hambledon Cottage, on the Harris Park Heritage Walk

There are also historical sites at Queens Wharf, and Parramatta Park. See the Parks listings below.

Historical Properties Now Used for Commercial Purposes

Historical Properties Now Used for Public Purposes


HMAS Parramatta memorial in Queens Wharf Reserve


(Destiny Tours conduct Ghost tours of the Parramatta Cemeteries as does Past Times Tours)


The historic towers of St Johns Cathedral, Parramatta. The towers are some of the earliest structures remaining in Australia.

Other Places of Worship


Lennox Bridge - one of Australia's oldest

Parramatta River runs through the Parramatta CBD. There is a weir at Charles Street which is the limit of navigation from Sydney. Between the Charles Street Weir and the O'Connell Street Weir the river is really only a wide canal, though there are a number of pleasant riverside walks including walks by the northern bank by the Riverside Theatres and on the south bank through the new Justice Precinct. The river widens upstream of the O'Connell Street Weir. There is another weir damming the river further upstream in Parramatta Park. There are a large number of bridges spanning the river, in the city centre. In order they are -



Foundation Day in early November celebrates (appropriately enough) the foundation of Parramatta.

Parramasala - the Australian Festival of South Asian Arts





To Watch

To Play


Shopping Malls



Parramatta has many restaurants, from the budget to upmarket. $50 mains are certainly not uncommon in the nicer establishments, so if you are on a budget, check the menu carefully.

Restaurants are located in three broad precincts plus nearby Harris Park and Parramatta Park/Westmead:

Eat Street

Eat Street is at the northern end of Church Street. The largest number of restaurants are between Phillip Street and Market Street.

Phillip Street/George Street

Phillip Street and George Street run east-west from Marsden Street down to the ferry wharf.

South Church Street

South Church Street is south of the railway line and north of the Great Western Highway. Heading away from the railway down Church Street is a small chinatown.

Harris Park

Harris Park is located to the east of Parramatta, it has its own railway station but is within easy walking distance of Parramatta. It is famed for its Indian restaurants.

Parramatta Park & Westmead

Parramatta Park is located at the western end of the city. Westmead is located to the West Of Parramatta, on the other side of Parramatta Park



There are Pubs galore in Parramatta

Night Clubs



City Centre




Near Rosehill

The following hotels are all located along James Ruse Drive or just off it, close to both Rosehill Racecourse and about 5 minutes drive from the City centre

Near Westmead


Parramatta has well developed contact facilities. Internet cafes, public phones, all 3G mobile networks, post offices, are all readily available. Parramatta library offers Internet facilities.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, March 06, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.