Monday, 18 October 2010


When my parents came to visit in May one of their favourite days out was a trip to Parramatta. The thought of spending a day sightseeing in Parra draws quite a few raised eyebrows from Sydneysiders. The western suburb is not known for its' natural beauty. However, I decided to give it a go last weekend with my friends Kren and Dave.

Our day started with the hour long ride on the Rivercat along the Parramatta river. The ferry gives you some great views of the inner harbour and even on a day with a cold wind it was fun to sit outside and take in the scenery.
We started at the National Trust run Old Government House which was home to the early Governors of New South Wales. The house is staffed by volunteers and the lady taking the money was definitely a few marbles short of a set, which resulted in a comedy exchange as we tried to purchase our tickets. Thankfully the lady that conducted our guided tour was a lot more with it.

I wasn't particularly gripped by the tour, but it was interesting to see the house and how it has evolved over the years. There is an interesting photo showing the house in total ruin around 1900 before Kings School moved in and took it over.
 After lunch we visited a second National Trust property, Experiment Farm. The farm house was an 'experiment' because it was the first land grant in Australia made in 1789. We were again shown round by a volunteer. Experiment Farm was staffed by male volunteers. Was there a sex scandal in the NSW National Trust a few years ago, and the volunteers at properties are now segregated?

The farm cottage is pretty small with just four rooms and the basement included in the tour. However, it's quite interesting and furnished from a period when a surgeon lived in the property.

At both NT properties they were keen to point out their 'original' furniture. A subtle dig at the Historic Houses Trust run Elizabeth Farm that we visited next.

I really like the way the HHT stage their properties for visitors. There are no guide ropes or barriers and you are free to wonder round, sit on the furniture and touch objects. It's true that most of the objects in the house are reproduction, but to me that doesn't matter. We were slightly rushed as we looked round having only 45mins before the property closed for the day.

It was a good day, although I don't think I enjoyed my trip to Parra as much as my parents did theirs. As Dave remarked, because so many of Australia's historic properties are from the same period once you've already seen quite a few of them, there isn't a lot of variation left.

We took the train back to the city as low tide meant the Rivercat was replaced by a bus for part of the journey.


  1. When I was in Sydney, people spoke of Parramatta in derogatory tones. Along the lines of it's where what we call the less refined and sophisticated get shipped out to. Is that really the case?

  2. It's true people definitely stereo type the place.

    Sydney's 'west' is probably the equivalent of London's 'south' a few years ago. It has cheaper housing, has attracted more immigrant communities and the cheaper land means there are more industrial areas. It defintiely isn't as pretty as the 'east' which have all the beaches. It would be fair to say there is a bit of snobbery going on!

    Yes it probably isn't as nice, but not as bad as people say.I've found a few nice places to eat out there, immigrant communities bring their fod with them!

  3. Lol! Love your comment on the 'snobbery'. I don't mind Parra.... the cbd anyway but get out any further and there really isn't much there... =D