What is Heritage?

Parramatta is one of the most historic places in Australia. A major aim of Council is to conserve Parramatta's heritage to help understand our past and to enrich the character of Parramatta for the benefit of future generations.

Parramatta Township from Northbank

Aborigines in the foreground of this painting of Parramatta Township viewed from the north bank of Parramatta River.

Long before European settlement the Aboriginal people inhabited the Sydney area, including Parramatta. The Darug people were known to have occupied the Sydney basin for more than 40,000 years. Made up of many small clans, the Darug followed seasonal food routes within strict territorial boundaries. One of these clans, the Burramattagal, lived at the head of the Parramatta River.

Many places and items remain in Parramatta that are important to the local Aboriginal community and to the Aboriginal people of New South Wales.

In 1788, the first Europeans arrived in Rose Hill (now Parramatta). Governor Arthur Philip established Parramatta as a farming settlement to ensure the colony's survival. By the early 1800s, hospitals, schools, churches and other public buildings had all been established and Parramatta prospered as a convict town and as a centre of regional government.

Reflecting its rich history, Parramatta contains many significant heritage buildings and places. Within the centre of Parramatta there are the well known historical icons such as Elizabeth Farm House, Experiment Farm Cottage and Old Government House.

Outside of this central area, there is also much evidence of the history and growth of Parramatta at a broader level including 19th century and early 20th century houses, early shops, factories, public institutions, bridges and other structures, as well as historic cemeteries, landscapes, parks and street trees.

Parramatta Township c1809

Parramatta township c1809, where present day Smith Street ran down to a rocky river bed ‘where all further progress for boats was stopped by . . . large broad stones over which a fresh water stream ran’.

All Councils in New South Wales have a statutory responsibility under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, 1979 and Heritage Act, 1977 to protect heritage items and conservation areas through their identification in planning instruments.

Last updated on 23 Apr 2013