Parramatta City is located around the busy Sydney CBD and Sydney Olympic Park. It is rich in history, culture, and economics. A long time ago, the British colonists settled there, looking for fertile soils.
Noteworthy is that it was initially named Rose Hill. As with several old cities, Parramatta has also risen and developed with the changes in time. Yet, many of the original buildings, historic sites, and heritage here are from those old colonial times.
1. History of Parramatta
Before European settlement, Parramatta was home to the Aboriginal people for several years.
The previous century saw a heavy influx of immigration in Parramatta. People from all over the world settled in the area and began calling it home, leading to a mix of different cultures.
Other people from several parts of the world have left a vibrant atmosphere with so much to offer to the locals and visitors. The city’s top historic sites and attractions are listed below.
1.1. Old Government House
The Old Government House is the oldest existing public building and one of the top historic sites in Australia. Once the home of the first ten governors, it now stands empty. Touring this significant heritage building must be on your list of things to do in Parramatta.
During your tour, remember to explore the kitchens at the government house. You will be fascinated to find that you can even look through some old recipes.
1.2. Experiment Farm Cottage
Experiment Farm Cottage was first granted to convict James Ruse. He became the first farmer to successfully cultivate grain, proving that the place was indeed inhabitable.
The National Trust takes care of this cottage. Your children can accompany you for a visit. They will enjoy visiting the cottage garden here. It is a hands-on sensory garden. Guided tours are also allowed, so this is another activity to add to your list of things to do in Parramatta.
1.3. Elizabeth Farm
Elizabeth Farm was once home to John and Elizabeth Macarthur. Wondering who they are? They are the ones who established the wool industry in the country. This place is now a kind of museum, running a leisure program for those who tour it.
The farm is also available for picnics. It has been remodelled to look just like it was when the Macarthur family lived there. Include visiting this farm in your list of things to do in Parramatta without fail.
1.4. Parramatta Female Factory
Parramatta female factory is a place with an exciting history behind it. It was once the destination of convict women for over twenty years.
A significant amount of the Australian population descended from these women. Isn’t that quite an interesting fact? Wouldn’t you like to visit the factory that employed these female convicts?
1.5. Lancer Barracks
Lancer Barracks is the longest-standing military site in Australia since British colonialists settled here. Located on Smith Street in Parramatta, opposite the railway station, it has been used by Royal New South Wales Lancers, an armoured cavalry, since 1885.
The British built it as a base for colonial expansion. But when they withdrew, its military functions were preserved.
This place is rich in military history, and the memorials seen on the site are to remember those who served at the barracks and the heroes killed in the wars. When you are in Parramatta, consider taking some time to explore the Lancer Barracks.
Now that you have a brief history of Parramatta, it is time to know about the things to do there. Let us get to those details.
2. Things to Do in Parramatta
We have curated some of the best things to do in Parramatta below.
2.1. Take a Ferry Ride on the Parramatta River
When you are in Parramatta, you should never miss the ferry ride. However, very few know about the ferry ride to Circular Quay from Parramatta Wharf.
This ride is said to be a smooth one. On your ride, you can read a book, browse your mobile, click pictures or listen to music. Your trip could last up to nine minutes. This public transport is one of the cheap pleasures.
It is also your chance to enjoy the sunny breeze and look at the mangrove forests and the homesteads.
2.2. Enjoy a Tasty Local Cuisine
If you are a food lover, Parramatta City has much to offer you. As mentioned earlier, people worldwide call this place home, thus creating a diverse mixture of cultures with several recipes for tasty food.
The local restaurants have something unique to offer to their customers. One such dish is the Singaporean-Malay cuisine. It is available at Temasek, a local restaurant popular for Hainanese chicken rice, laksa, and rendang.
2.2.1. Another Spot to Lookout For
Another spot is Pho Pasteur, an old-school Vietnamese joint offering bowls of pho every day. Then you could try out the Holy Basil, another popular food joint. It is known for serving fresh and zingy Lao and Thai cuisine every night.
However, don’t ignore the Eatdustry Thai Cafe. Here, you can find the former Chat Thai chef- Goff Thani, cooking regional specialties from Thai Town. These specialties include creamy khao soi, boat noodle soup, and hot jungle curry.
Additionally, there is a variety for everyone. You can go with a burger or fried chicken if you require only a simple snack. Or you could try some other mouthwatering dishes and enjoy yourself.
Parramatta City previously did not have many bars, but recently, that has slowly changed with new places coming up.
Nick and Nora’s Bar is a Western Sydney enterprise. They have created an impressive venue, going all out with twenty-six floors serving unique, sophisticated cocktails. When you are in Parramatta, don’t forget to have a drink here.
Next is Uncle Kurt’s Bar. The bar is small, with creative drinks from a graffiti-adorned car park. It is an excellent place to relax and enjoy a pastrami bagel while having a cocktail and listening to hip-hop beats.
Then you have the Alex & Co– a riverside venue bar that has a great atmosphere for parties and serves tropical cocktails. If you have a big group of friends, you can take them to this place and have a blast.
2.4. Coffee Shops
Several places in Parramatta City offer decent coffee. You could try one of these cafes during the hectic business hours. Circa Espresso has put Parramatta on the map with their creative brunch meals and coffee.
Their signature dishes, coffee and Ottoman eggs are so magical that they can move people from Sydney to Parramatta.
2.4.1. Meraki Merchants
This cafe has also had quite an impact on people in Parramatta. Opened by one of Circa’s former chefs, the spot has attracted several people for their single-origin coffee and toasties- roasted lamb, hummus, mustard seed, and eggplant. It is worth travelling for.
Many other cafes are also worthwhile. Lil Miss Collins is especially perfect for a sunny day. The Georgie Boy in Parramatta Park is great for brunching. And the Bourke Street Bakery is the best for a quick latte.
2.5. Visit the Sydney Olympic Park
Sydney Olympic Park is a residential area of more excellent Sydney. It is on the western side of the central business district, in the local government area of the Parramatta Council. Officially named Sydney Olympic Park, it is a stadium that hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sydney.
If you are a sports fan, head over there and catch a game or any exciting events.
2.6. Go Shopping
Parramatta’s commercial life is quite active due to several retail businesses. The mammoth Westfield Parramatta complex dominates the retail scene. But there are other independent players operating shops throughout the suburb. You could check them out.
Some places to consider checking out on your exciting shopping trip are below.
2.6.1. Parramatta Farmers Market
Parramatta Farmers Market is held every Friday as a hub for gourmet goods. Here, you can buy fresh produce, small batches of honey, cheese, bread, and basic groceries for home consumption. Be ready to stock your home with all these delicious products on Fridays.
2.6.2. Tatra Delicatessan
Those with a unique taste in food will love to visit this Tatra deli that offers Polish and European specialities. They include pastrami, homemade dumplings, doughnuts, smoked mackerel, and strudel. Sounds tasty? Don’t hesitate to try their shop during your trip.
2.6.3. My Hung Fabrics
This retail shop has fabrics of all kinds, every colour, texture, and print. Are you looking to make your own? This is the place to go in Parramatta. It will show a world of possibility. Doesn’t that sound thrilling? Give it a try. Won’t you?
If you are a music lover, you cannot miss this place. This long-established independent record store is probably the last one remaining in Western Sydney.
With twenty-five years in business, they have been selling new and used CDs, DVDs, and music memorabilia. Occasionally, their stores host gigs from local and touring acts.
2.7. Witness the Parramatta Lanes Festival
This annual festival lasts a week and takes over the suburb with music, food, and art. More than a dozen streets and laneways are closed due to traffic and are lined with public art and stalls offering tasty food from fancy restaurants and street vendors. The most exciting event is the pop-up performances that create a breathtaking buzz. You can also witness other events.
Mark your calendar for this annual event that creates a spectacular buzz and puts a pause to the routine life in Parramatta.
2.8. Pay a Visit to the Riverside Theatre
This is the principal place for arts in central Parramatta. Riverside Theatre hosts several large and small productions throughout the year. The events include plays, cabaret, opera, contemporary dance, musical theatre, and more.
Visit the theatre for the best entertainment in Parramatta and get a taste of the best-rising talent in Sydney. On the other hand, you could also sign up for classes in acting and dancing and learn some of the basic rules. This could be where your exciting career might kick off, too.
2.9. Relax at Lake Parramatta
This is one of the best among the many relaxing things to do in Parramatta. Begin your day by visiting Lake Parramatta. This man-made lake sits two kilometres from Parramatta CBD. It is a popular swimming place for residents and visitors.
If you are visiting this park, you can hire pedal boats or kayaks to navigate the area in water. Doesn’t this sound exciting for a vacation? Why wait? Pay a visit immediately.
2.9.1. History of Lake Parramatta
This lake was once a meeting place for the Darug people. Currently, three marked trails form a long track, circling the entire lake, which is suitable for a walk for lovers, family, friends, and pets as long as they are kept within walking distance and on a leash.
2.9.2. Take a Walk around the Lake
During your lovely walk, you will hear cockatoos. If you are fortunate, you can spot them too. In addition, several rosellas and kookaburras can be spotted among the red gum trees and banksias. This is quite the scene for bird enthusiasts.
You can walk to the creek to check out the Parramatta Dam, built in 1856. It is the oldest surviving public building, which is still in operation. So get hooked on nature’s Hidden gems bushwalks.
2.9.3. Extra Benefits of Being at the Lake
There are free barbecues and a playground at Parramatta Park to help you if you are hungry on your visit here. This is an apt place to spend with your kids and family.
You could also go solo and have a relaxing time. You can satisfy your cravings at the kiosk called Lake Parramatta Cafe. The cafe offers burgers, sandwiches, and wraps. Come and enjoy the beauty of Lake Parramatta Park without fail.
2.9.4. Cultural Walks
The exhilarating cultural walk at Lake Parramatta is another leisure activity you should not miss. These famous cultural walks are popular things to do.
The Parramatta Heritage Centre organizes these enriching cultural walks where you will spend time in the area with a traditional Aboriginal custodian. You can find them teaching about the connections to land, plant uses, tools, hunting, and all the aspects of the local culture through exciting stories of trade, friendship, and conflicts concerning the lives of the Aboriginal people.
It would be similar to sitting around a fire listening to stories from an old wise man!
2.10. Explore Hunter Street Gallery of Fine Arts
The City of Parramatta Art Society is where all artists can have their work displayed. It is New South Wales’s longest-running society. This organization also allows people of all skill levels to exploit their talents fully.
It routinely organizes exhibitions to showcase the works of its artists. The best of their artworks remained displayed at the Hunter Street Gallery, which is the only permanent gallery in Parramatta. These artworks are for sale. Residents, as well as visitors, are invited to view them there.
2.11. Visit Gatehouse High Tea Rooms
The Gatehouse High Tea Rooms date back to the colonial era. This old building was built in 1887 and was utilized for the same motive as it is now. The sandwiches and high tea are a tradition that has been kept.
It might be the sole place of its kind in the entire country that serves high tea.
2.12. Taste Delicious Food on Church Street
The famous Church Street is also called Eat Street, which is a place where you can find something pleasant to eat.
This is where you will find the highest concentration of restaurants in Parramatta, serving all kinds of foods from various parts of the world. Some of them are listed below.
2.12.1. Restaurant 317
A health-conscious place that caters to clients who are sensitive to certain food ingredients. It offers gluten-free diets. Recently, it has begun to serve a wide range of modern dishes.
2.13. Little India
If you are looking to eat some Indian cuisines or may be Asian, then this is the place in Parramatta to go to.
It is just a short walk from Parramatta station, also called Harris Park. There are plenty of Indian restaurants serving the most authentic Indian meals.
2.14. Get a Taste of the Night Life in Parramatta
Parramatta has tried to create a diverse night experience for its residents and visitors to have more community spaces for entertainment.
Now, it has plenty of exciting nightlife activities to keep you awake. We have listed a few below.
2.14.1. Catch an Evening Show
If you prefer drama, dance, comedy, and classical theatre, a night out at the Riverside Theatre is the one for you. The best-performing artists in Australia showcase their work here. You will have some unforgettable memories.
You can also catch a movie at Event Cinemas in Westfield Parramatta Shopping Centre.
2.14.2. Enjoy a Late Night Dinner
You can enjoy a late-night dinner and experience the nightlife in Parramatta. Taste modern Australian cuisine at the Table 30 restaurant, where you can enjoy lamb shanks, salmon fillet, vegetables, meat, and seafood.
Or try out passionfruit tart, strawberry coulis, tropical pebble with berry compote, a cheese plate with quince paste, and lavish as a dessert.
Remember to check out the farm-to-table restaurants. Courtney’s Brasserie is one of them. You can find it open till late at night. Any of these in the region will offer you a nice meal. You could make it a family night out with the kids. The place has lots to offer. So, head out and have the time of your life.
2.14.3. Visit Late Night Clubs
Give late-night clubs a try. You will find refreshing cocktails, hot beverages, and a wide range of drinks in Bar 30 & Bistro. It is an appropriate spot for relaxing with a refreshing drink after a busy workday.
What Are Some of the Parks to Visit in Parramatta City?
The parks to visit in Parramatta City include:
- Arthur Phillip Park
- Northmead Auburn Botanic Gardens
- Dence Park
- George Kendall Riverside Park
- North Rocks Duck River Regional Playground
Is There Another Name for Church Street in Parramatta?
Yes. Church Street is otherwise known as Eat Street. This spot is the favourite of every food lover.
Parramatta is a destination worth visiting. It has numerous attractions which will leave you mesmerized. Its rich history, significant heritage buildings, beautiful parks, man-made lake, physical attractions, culture, and diverse cuisines are truly unforgettable.
Next time you search for a place for vacation, you can choose Parramatta.
A writer comfortable exploring any subject.