Wednesday, November 19, 2008



I didn't realize how far out west Parramatta was. Looking at Google Maps. Parramatta is north west of the CBD. From the map, it looked to be hours away, but I clicked on get directions and it said it's only 37 minutes. That's by car, though. We'll be doing public transportation. I'm sure that will take longer.

Lord Wiki says Parramatta is the sixth largest central business district in Australia. That's interesting since it's so close to Sydney's CBD. I wonder what the other top CBD's are.

Let me go see if I can find the answer to that.

I couldn't find it.

I was thinking though that I don't even know what they mean by largest central business district. Is it the largest in size? Population? Makes the most money? Sells the most chocolate Easter Bilbys?

The word Parramatta comes from the Koori word Burramatta which means head of water or the place where eels lie down. I remember writing about this before. Did I already do a post on Parramatta? Am I losing my mind?

No, I'm joking. I think I remember. I mentioned the eel thing in my post about things we plan to do in Sydney. That's when I first mentioned we might go to Parramatta.

Lord Wiki says the Koori who lived there were called the Darug people. There is debate over whether they were part of the Eora people or if they were a different group all together. This article from the Sydney Morning Herald says that the Darug and Eora were one and the same. Eora was how they described themselves to the white people.

I'm thinking it's like if aliens came to Texas. They introduce themselves and then ask where I'm from. I might say here. The aliens might assume that's what my people are called. The Here people. They might fail to understand that I'm a Texan. Although to be honest, I don't really consider myself a Texan. That's a whole other story, though.

All right. As for white history, the story goes that the land around Sydney Cove did not provide enough good soil to grow enough good food for all the convicts. They needed to find a place where they could grow some stuff. On November 2, 1788--about ten months after the First Fleet arrived in Sydney, Arthur Phillip and some marines landed in Parrammata. They didn't call it that, though. They called it The Crescent. Then later they called it Rosehill and then a little later after that, it became Parramatta.

Governor Phillips did one of those land grant things. He gave land to a convict named James Ruse. This became known as Experimental Farm. What the government wanted to see was how long it would take someone to become self-sufficient--rather than depending on government assistance. According to Lord Wiki, it took fifteen months.

The farm is now a museum, but offers guided tours only. I'm not a fan of guided tours so we'll probably skip that.

Instead, I think we'll go to the Elizabeth Farm Museum. This place seems much more my style. I'm reading about the history of this Elizabeth Macarther person now. Lord Wiki says she was the first soldier's wife to arrive in New South Wales. She and her husband John were pioneers in the wool industry. Wool is a pretty important industry in Australia, so I guess that would make Elizabeth and John pretty important.

Unfortunately the actual website for Elizabeth Farm Museum seems to be out-of-order, so I'm having to rely on Lord Wiki here. He makes the museum sound incredibly fun. Instead of the usual house museum where everything is roped off, here you're encouraged to touch stuff, sit in chairs, read old letters, etc. I like interactive museums. Jack loves them.

According to Lord Wiki, Elizabeth Farm is the oldest surviving European home. I mean in Australia--not in the whole world. There are probably older European houses in Europe.

Parrammatta seems to be the place to go if you like old buildings. It also contains Australia's oldest PUBLIC building. Old Government House. Their website IS working, thankfully. I'm a bit tired of Lord Wiki. I think that's because he keeps asking me to donate money. And I know I probably SHOULD donate money, because I use him so much. But I'm too lazy to go downstairs and get my damn wallet.


Old Government House was the country home of the first ten Governors.

John Hunter, the governor after Arthur Phillips build the house--well, at least the beginning part. Later, the Macquaries added extensions.

The house was the government house until the 1840's. A new government house was built, and the old one was rented out for other purposes. From the early 1900's to sometime in the 1960's, the house was a school. The Kings School.

Now I am going to look up The Kings School. Why? I'm nosy.

It seems I was a bit confused. I had the idea that The King's School main building was the government house, but from what I'm reading, it seems it wasn't. I guess it was one of their buildings, but not the main one.

Really. I've spent ten minutes on this thing already and I'm not sure I really care. If you care, here's the link to the school.

I think that's my problem with research. I have a problem with finding things I don't understand. I'll obsess about it--trying to figure out the answer. And then I have to ask myself. Is it really that important to me? In all honesty, I probably wouldn't mind spending hours looking at a website about a boarding school for boys. I love boarding school stuff. It's so Harry Potter. But there are a million other things I want to read, and things get so overwhelming for me.

Oh! There's a ghost tour at the Government House. I wonder what that's all about. Here we go. Spooky stuff. I'm less interested in a ghost tour now. No, that's not exactly right. I'm still very interested. I'm just too scared. I like spiritual stuff. I believe in ghosts. I like reading about it. I'm just not sure I want to actually encounter ghosts--especially when there are ideas about the ghosts being angry and/or evil.

Here we go! The Old Government House is the site of the first UFO sighting in Australia. That's pretty cool.

I have to admit. There is a part of me that wants to do the tour. Maybe if I find someone who's interested in doing it with me. It's only offered once a month though. I doubt I'll do it. Maybe we'll just go to the house during the day. Maybe that's when the NICE ghosts hang out.

There's a restaurant in the Government House that can also be used for weddings and other functions. Lachlan's. Maybe we'll eat there. I wonder if it's the type of place you need to get dressed up for. We'll probably be in our tourist costumes. I'm thinking it might be a little too formal for us. It looks like somewhere you might go for Mother's Day Brunch.

You know....

Lord Wiki has a photo of important heritage sites/buildings in Parramatta. One of them is the remains of Governor Phillip's House. I felt something when I saw it--a little twinge in my heart. I think I have a bit of an emotional attachment to this guy. Really. I have this thing for him and Bennelong.

Well, on to more modern stuff.

Parramatta has the third largest shopping center in Australia. Well, at least Lord Wiki says so. He might be lying to me since I haven't donated money to him yet. This is cool though. He has a list of the biggest shopping centers in Australia. This might explain why I'm more of a NSW girl than a Victoria one. Most of the big shopping centers are in Victoria. I don't like shopping too much.

I think we'll skip the big shopping center and instead go to Parramatta Park. This has the remains of Arthur Phillips House--which is really just a tiny little monument thing. And it has the old Government House. Hopefully, the Elizabeth Farm isn't too far away.

The funny thing is before I read all this stuff, I really wasn't too thrilled about Parramatta. I was even thinking we should skip it. But now it's one of the places I'm most excited about going to.

The paragraph above sounds like a conclusion, but it's not.

I still have more stuff to look at.

I feel like one of those movies where you think it's over, but then it's not. And then, ten minutes later, you think it's over again, and it's still not.

Parramatta has some interesting demographics. Lord Wiki says 57.6% of its residents were born overseas. Doesn't that seem high? 14% of residents are from India. That's good for me because it increases the chance we might find an Indian restaurant. I like Indian food. I think we'll do that instead of Lachlan's.

Cityhobo Time!

The shoe of Parramatta is Nike or brown work shoe. I HAVE heard of Nike. I don't own a pair, though. I do have brown shoes, but I usually wear black.

Cityhobo says Parramatta is down-to-earth. I like down-to-earth. Although maybe they're referring to the ghosts in Old Government House. Still down on earth. I think someone should come and tell them to move on. You know, like that little old lady in Poltergeist:

Cross over children. All are welcome. All welcome. Go into the Light. There is peace and serenity in the Light.

Although that wouldn't work so well for the people doing the ghost tour. Cityhobo says the vibe of Parramatta is Let's eat. Is that like a foodie thing or are people just really hungry there? Maybe it refers to the fact that the early European settlers had to expand their horizons and go to Parramatta so they could find land to grow food and not all starve to death.


  1. I go to Parramatta maybe once a year - it's such a long way. A couple of years ago someone at worked who had moved to Sydney from Melbourne asked me why people in Sydney ask where you're from as a conversation opener. She (being from Melbourne) thought it was a "class thing". And then I explained it's all about travel distance. Friendships in Sydney are often cemented on whether or not you live within travel distance.

  2. Hi Dina.

    Public transport to Parramatta won't take too long - an express train from Central Station will have you there in about half an hour.

    I remember going on a school excursion to Elizabeth Farm when I was about 10 and we were studying the kiddy version of early Australian history. I've always been fascinated by old stuff, so I quite enjoyed it - but that was a long time ago, so who knows what I would think now?

    I have been to Parramatta shopping centre once, and I think it's my definition of hell....

  3. Jamesobrien: That reminds me of NYC. I think there location has some effect on whether you decide to be friends with someone or not. I think for the most part people stick to their neighborhood. That's one of the aspects of the TV show Friends that didn't make sense to me. They were supposed to live in the West Village (I think?) yet their hang out was near Central Park. I don't think that's realistic at all. If you live in the West Village then I think your main hangout is going to be in the West Village. Or at least somewhere near that area. I can't imagine people traveling all the way uptown, on a regular basis, to get coffee.

    Gina: I'm going to have to remember all these trains and buses....I mean which ones to take. Elizabeth Farm sounds fun. I guess we'll see......

  4. To help with your transportation questions:

  5. Gina,

    I messed up with that website a few times. I think though it's because I didn't know where exactly to get off. It might be easier this time since we're a little more familiar with Sydney.

  6. I think the secret to using that website is to accept that public transport in Sydney is a debacle of epic proportions, and that timetables will bear minimal resemblence to reality....

  7. Elizabeth Farm should be a great trip, but generally disregard a lot of the stuff about John Macarthur's role in the wool industry.
    He was a trouble making stirrer who was in strife more often than he had hot meals, fought duels, spent a few years in England after being court martialed while his missus Elizabeth was the one running the whole show (with help from the kids when they'd grown).
    He ended up as mad a cut snake, locked in his library until he popped his clogs ;)
    Elizabeth was the real person behind the Merino sheep legend ;)

  8. Gina: Very true! I think I also have to make sure to know where exactly I'm trying to get to. For example, know where in Parramatta we want to stop......It's a big place.

    Jayne: I have a feeling there's probably a lot of stories in history like getting credit for the work the women do. I think for a lot of people, it doesn't matter what the woman does or accomplishes. Her only worth is what's between her legs.

  9. Hi Dina, i grew up near Parramatta you can get there in about 30 minute on an express train from Sydney which runs about every 20 min and you could even take the Rivercat from Circular Quay to Parramatta, i think it takes about 40min. I wouldn't recommend walking to Elizabeth Farm from Parramatta Park as it is on opposite sides of the city and will take about 40min, one suggestion i would make is to take the free black bus around the city which runs every 10min heres a link There is definately a class thing when it comes to the Western Sydney but it is an old sterotype and is slowly changing.
    Another place that you could see is the Parramatta Female Factory
    For lunch i would recommend you go to Church St which has about 100 cafe along it and around it.
    I think when they say 6th largest it means GDP (Gross Domestic Product) but i think Western Sydney as a whole has the 3rd largest GDP in Australia. Hope you have time to come out and you enjoy Parramatta

  10. Matt,

    Thank you SO much for that information. I'm especially grateful to know about the free bus. I'm guessing you're talking about The Loop. I'm trying to figure out which stops we'd get off at. Or maybe I'm looking at the wrong bus. This one IS blue rather than black....

  11. I don't think I've ever been to Paramatta but I've definitely heard of it. Oh and the Old Government House being the place of the first UFO sighting? I've never heard of that - what happened?!

  12. Katie, I don't know much about the UFO thing!! I should look it up...will do now.

  13. Katie,

    I can't find that much info about it...but found a little bit.

  14. Yes it the Loop, it might be Navy Blue as Blue and Gold are the colours of Parramatta, might just looks black to me. i would recommend that you get off at the 5th stop and just go aroung the back of the stadium and you will see a bridge and Old Government House is just on the other side of the river. As for Elizabeth Farm you could walk from Parramatta Station and it will take about 20min but i think it might be better to catch a taxi there as it might be hard to find if you don't know exactly where your going.

  15. Matt,

    You know what I'm getting stressed about. I'm getting all this very valuable information. But in Sydney we won't have easy access to the Internet.

    I need to print out all these comments people give me so I have it handy!!!

    We'll probably just walk. I hate taking cabs usually. Twenty minutes probably won't be too bad.

  16. The bookshop I work in is in Parramatta, but not in the big shopping centre, it's hidden away in an old shopping arcade on the other side of the railway line.

    Parramatta Park is where we meet to do combat training with our historical reenactment group - every second Sunday, weather and other commitments permitting, there's a bunch of Vikings and Anglo Saxons beating each other up with spears and swords by The Bathhouse.

  17. Mim,

    I bet the historical reenactment is so much fun. I've never been to one. I think here in the States, people do civil war ones a lot. Maybe revolutionary war too.

    Bookstores are the one shopping place I actually enjoy! Do you like working in one? I think it would be fun to see what people are buying. I'm too nosy.

  18. I would love to go on the ghost tour with you. LOL i can imagine us everytime there is a noise we jump in each others arms LOL Its cracking me up just thinking about it actually. I am going to feel like a tourist as well. But sooooo looking forward to travelling up there to hang with you

    Love Suz

  19. Suzanne,

    The ghost tour looks fun. I don't know if we'll be in town the day they have it though. We should do something spooky/spiritual. We'll have to figure out what!!!!

  20. Yay doing something spooky together will be sooo cool i cant wait till you get here.

    love Suz XOX

  21. I grew up near Parramatta..... Some of my wedding photos were taken there!
    I also used to train my dog there when I was a kid.....What a small world!

  22. My husband can trace his family back to James Ruse. I think that is so cool. We have a genealogy book that his uncle gave us as a wedding gift with it all documented.

  23. Mama Bird,

    That is SO awesome and exciting!

    I had to actually read my post again to remember who James Ruse was. But now that I know.....

    I love hearing Australian ancestor stories...not that I've heard that many.

    When we were in Sydney, I met this volunteer at the Maritime museum. She told me about her ancestors. I tried to memorize their names so I could look them up later. But then I forgot them a few minutes later. I tried to find her again, but I couldn't.