Local historian Gary John Carter, a little tongue in cheek, dreams about Parramatta’s future.
DATELINE July 2030: Destination NSW has listed Parramatta as one of the premier tourist attractors in the State. It has a mountain of Heritage business success stories and tourist activities that have made Parramatta the place to be and visit in 2030.
Hop on the Light Rail, to the new North Parramatta precinct and visit the historic Female Factory. This place thrives with its diverse multicultural community, living in harmony with history, botanical gardens, cafes and interconnected walks and vibrant local industry.
Some think of it as the Smithsonian of Australia. Visitors and locals can now walk, or bike ride the Parramatta History trail, where they can visit museums, galleries and study centres dedicated to the Aborigines (the first Australians), the story of convicts, free settlers, and immigrants from all over the world.
There is a study centre for Aboriginal culture and local history situated on the tribal land grant site on the northeast quadrant of the North Parramatta precinct. This site abuts the newly developed native species compound, a favourite with our foreign tourists.
In the World Heritage 1821 Female Factory site, there are boutique breweries, timber and leather craft creations, cheese, chocolate and honey businesses, old trades like blacksmiths and cooking schools.
There are also movie studio sets, photo shops, a tea house and Café. In other restored heritage buildings, just outside the sandstone quarter, there is student accommodation and a new University medical faculty, plus many new software APP and Smart Tech start-ups.
They provide job start opportunities and enterprise for this new vibrant tourist and education economy.
Weekend markets in the 1821 Female Factory Yard just across the new access bridge from the World Heritage Parramatta Park, rivals the Sydney Rocks market. In the adjacent third-class convict quarters, witness a living holographic diorama’s of where we came from to the present.
This is a must-see attraction. For tourists there is also the Parramatta Gaol museum and its novel ‘Incarceration Motel’, a surreal and unique experience of being looked after by prison guards and prisoners in period dress. They also have ghost tours and a theatre restaurant. This North Parramatta precinct is an education, a job, a coffee, a chat, and a chance to succeed in a small business, it is all here.
Parramatta Park offers activities too; a punt boat ride from the Little Coogee to the Old Kings School Wharf, with a ‘First Fleet’ sailor as your river guide; or take a Segway, a bike ride, a horse, and carriage experience around the Park; From the Ferry Wharf take the Solar Train to Old Government House and the Tudor Gate Café. While in the Park go to the George Caley Botanical Gardens and the Glengarriff House Medical Museum, this is adjacent to the magnificently restored Wistaria gardens.
Visit the Amphitheatre on the Crescent, if you are lucky you may even catch a concert, opera, or a performance by Parramatta’s own world class choir.
Other walks include the River Trail, where you can stroll pass, or watch the EELS win, at the 30,000 seat Parramatta Stadium. See a show at the renovated Riverside Theatre, the entertainment centre, opposite Parramatta’s futuristic hi-rise developments. Pass through the portals of one of the oldest bridges in Australia, the 1836 David Lennox Bridge.
See a wonderland of coloured fountains and sculptures of Aboriginal warriors and the egalitarian Governor Arthur Phillip. This north CBD Riverside Park offers wetlands, turtle and eel ponds, children’s entertainment facilities and river view restaurants. Here also is the now successfully redesigned, but controversial Museum of Applied Arts and Science and its Governor Brisbane Planetarium.
The wish was, for this whole site to be designed around our wonderful heritage buildings, the St Georges Terraces and Willow Grove house.
Take a stroll across the Parramatta Park Domain to the World Heritage Old Government House and catch the Heritage Bus to some of Australia’s oldest Heritage sites, like Elizabeth Farm, Hambledon Cottage, then onto the CBD and visit the Lancer Barracks, Brislington Nursing Museum, and many other hidden history sites.
Experience cuisine from all over the world, in the restored and Famous Eat Street, or go to one of the many Night clubs or Cafes. See the Hi-rise Burramattagal Tower and the Glass House Civic centre and gallery at the Centenary Square site, opposite one of the oldest churches in Australia, Saint John’s Church.
Walk down Parramatta’s Business Highway (old George St), now renamed Mary Fitzroy Drive, from Australia’s largest legal district to the revamped Charles Street ferry wharf, and see actors dressed as British Red coats and convicts welcoming tourists to the Tourist and Business Capitol of Western Sydney, MY CRADLE CITY PARRAMATTA.
Photo: Old Government House.