Arthur Phillip Park



2a Edward St, NORTHMEAD

Arthur Phillip (1738 -1814) was appointed captain of HMS Sirius and appointed Governor-designate of New South Wales, the proposed British penal colony on the east coast of Australia. Captain Arthur Phillip (later Admiral) was charged with the task of bringing the first fleet of ships to the land discovered some 17 years previously by James Cook. His fleet consisted of 11 ships with 160 marines and 729 convicts on-board. Unlike the British authorities, he had a great vision of a new British outpost to be established in the southern seas. He wanted free settlement encouraged and proposed to try to reform the convicts and to treat Aborigines kindly, establishing harmonious relations with them. He also had good understanding of administrative detail and considerable foresight. He understood the difficulties involved in transporting men and women from England to an unknown land on the other side of the world and lobbied for sufficient equipment, food and clothing to enable a safe passage.

The fleet weighed anchor in Portsmouth, England, on May 13, 1787, and reached Botany Bay on the 18th January 1788. Finding it too barren, sandy, and shallow for permanent settlement, fresh water was inadequate and the anchorages were too open in the wide bays) Phillip investigated the next inlet to the north. There, spreading its fingers of deep water into sheltered sandstone promontories, he found "one of the finest harbours in the world, in which a thousand sail on the line might ride in the most perfect security." The harbour, which had been discovered and named by Cook earlier, was Port Jackson (now known as Sydney Harbour). Sydney takes its name from Lord Thomas Townshend Sydney, the British home secretary to whom Governor Phillip reported. On 26 January 1788, Phillip's First Fleet was unloaded 8 miles (13 kilometres) from the heads in what is now known as Sydney Cove.

However, the British Colony only had enough food to support itself for a short time and the soil around Sydney Cove proved too poor to grow the thousands of kilos of food that 1000 convicts, soldiers and administrators needed to survive. During 1788 Governor Arthur Phillip had investigated several places before choosing Parramatta as the likeliest place for a successful large farm. On Sunday November 2 1788, Governor Phillip took a detachment of marines along with a surveyor and, in boats, made his way up the harbour to what was called The Crescent, now part of Parramatta Park. Tents were set-up and the work of determining the best places to farm began. A work team of convicts followed, who would have to hoe the land by hand, and clear what trees they could to grow wheat, corn and barley – initially they grew these grains mainly for seed, in order to establish farming in the new colony. The farming (at what became known as Rose Hill) proved successful and enabled the early colony to survive, whereas it otherwise would have certainly failed. In 1791, on the King's Birthday, Governor Phillip changed the name of the growing town to Par-ra-mat-ta, a name which approximated the term used by the local people to describe their place.

Governor Arthur Phillip built a small house on Rose Hill for times he spent in the town. This was replaced by what is now known as Old Government House in 1799. It was used as a retreat by Governors until the 1850's, and is Australia's oldest surviving public building. This 3.2 hectare is located in the Arthur Phillip ward and has the following facilities:

  • Sporting fields
  • Children’s playground
  • Seating
  • One third basketball court
  • Picnic shelters
  • Cricket pitch

For bookings or further information regarding Council's parks and reserves please contact our customer service line on 9806 5050