Parramatta’s rich history: Festival showcases our foundation

HISTORY buffs, residents and visitors are invited to celebrate Parramatta’s rich cultural heritage through a series of guided walking tours, performances, workshops and demonstrations as part of this year’s Foundation Festival.

Kicking off on Wednesday, November 9, the Foundation Festival culminates with City of Parramatta’s Foundation Day celebration on Sunday 13 November – with the North Parramatta Heritage Core to host a number of tours, workshops, family activities and live music from 10am to 4pm.

The City of Parramatta and Female Factory Friends will host guided tours on the day, taking you on journey through the City’s history. There will also be horse and carriage rides, flying fox displays and a number of historical vehicles on show, as well as a re-telling of women and children’s experiences at the Parramatta Female Factory and Institutions Precinct, and talks by artist, raconteur and historian Judith Dunn.

For those who prefer more hands-on activities, try your hand at basket weaving, old furniture making, or ceramics at a Parra Clay drop-in workshop. There will also be some blacksmith demonstrations and a chance to learn about beekeeping.

“As more people move to Parramatta they are discovering our incredible history and rich heritage hidden in plain sight,” City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Donna Davis said. 

“Parramatta’s Foundation Festival is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the people, culture and buildings that have shaped our City and define our place in Australia’s story.

“The variety of walking tours, heritage talks and family activities provide an interesting insight into Parramatta’s past – and offer a fun day out.”

There will be number of fascinating activities in the lead up to Foundation Day.

On Saturday, November 12, Past Time Tours will host their ‘Ghastly gruesome and gripping tour’, where attendees will learn about the surprising true-crime tales of early Parramatta while strolling through St John’s Cemetery at dusk.

Over the weekend, self-proclaimed ‘tombstone talker’ Kerima-Gae Topp will hold several tours of Mays Hill Cemetery, delighting audiences with stories of some notable and notorious characters as well as the respected and rogues throughout history.

History-buffs will be sure to enjoy guided tours of Hambledon Cottage, a colonial Georgian cottage originally built for John Macarthur in 1824, as part of his Elizabeth Farm estate. The tours will take place from November 11-13.

Foundation Day is a free event proudly presented by City of Parramatta Council. Some Foundation Festival events are ticketed and require pre-booking online.

For more information or to register for a tour, visit

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