Parramatta - Place Where Eel Lie DownParramatta - Place Where Eel Lie Down

Parramatta is a city rich in history, a place of elegant parks, a vibrant multicultural community, and a shopper's paradise, and a centre for sport, dining and entertainment.

Just 23 kilometres (14 miles) west of Sydney city centre, it is Australia's second European settlement, founded in November 1788 - just nine months after the First Fleet landed in Sydney Cove. During 1788, Governor Arthur Phillip had reconnoitred several places before choosing Parramatta as the most likely place for a successful large farm.

Parramatta was the furthest navigable point inland on the Parramatta River (i.e. furthest from the thin, sandy coastal soil) and also the point at which the river became freshwater and therefore useful for farming.

The discovery of this region had a significant impact on the fledgling colony, providing fertile soil to grow crops vital to the colony's survival-a feat not managed at Sydney Cove; Governor Philip originally named the area Rose Hill and established several building and a small fort.

The indigenous people of the region, knows as the Burramattahal, are a clan of the Darug people of the Sydney Basin. Derived from the name of the clan, the name Parramatta means' "place where eel lie down" and was officially adopted in 1791.

The city centre of Parramatta leads down to the Parramatta River, which is crossed by seven bridges. The River features one of the cultural highlights of the city-The River Walk. This evocative Indigenous artwork incorporates a painted pathway, interpretive plaques and native plantings. The walk meanders along the foreshore from Charles Street Ferry Wharf to the historic Lennox Bridge. Its shape reflecting the winding river, the path tells the history of the river and its people from an Aboriginal perspective. The walk ends in a reconciliation sounds cape outside Parramatta Heritage and Visitor information Centre.

Parramatta's appearance as a thriving modern, city often masks the rich history lying beneath its foundation. Visitors can follow the footsteps of the early colonists on one of the many heritage walks that take in some of Parramatta's nationally significant sites.

Delve into Parramatta's past with a stroll along the Harris Park Heritage Walk, which is accessible from the ferry wharf or the Railway station. One of the highlights of the walk is Elizabeth Farm. John Macarthur, a military man and a shrewd operator who wielded significant influence in the fledgling colony, built the house in 1793. The farm was named for his wife, a great woman of great influence herself. The current site still contains part of Australia's oldest private building, and the garden features exotic plants spanning two centuries, including on olive tree that has been bearing fruit since 1805.

A short stroll down the Heritage Walk brings you to Experiment Farm Cottage, Former convict James Ruse became the first to meet Governor Phillip's challenge of developing a self -sustaining farm. Ruse was given six and half acres to cultivate crops, with the promise of an additional 24 acres if his farm was successful. With the success of "Experiment Farm" Ruse became the recipient of the first land grant in the colony. Colonial Surgeon John Harris bought the property from Ruse in 1793 and built the brick cottage that exists on the site today.
by Charlotte Giles
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Charlotte Giles is a travel writer for last minute accommodation site - LastBeds. Charlotte is currently backpacking around Australia, she loves staying in cheap hotels in Sydney.
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