Parramatta is a suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It is located in Greater Western Sydney west of the Sydney central business district on the banks of the Parramatta River. Parramatta is the administrative seat of the Local Government Area (LGA) of the City of Parramatta. Part of the suburb is shared with the City of Holroyd LGA.
Parramatta, founded in the same year as Sydney by the British in 1788, is the oldest inland European settlement in Australia and is the economic capital of Greater Western Sydney and the sixth largest central business district in Australia. Since 2000, Parramatta has seen the consolidation of its role as a government centre with the relocation of agencies such as the New South Wales Police Force headquarters and Sydney Water, from the Sydney CBD. Simultaneously, major upgrades have occurred around the railway station with the expansion of Westfield Parramatta, the creation of a new transport interchange, and the ongoing development of the Parramatta Square local government precinct.
The Darug people who lived in the area for many generations regarded the area as rich in food from the river and forests. They called the area Baramada or Burramatta ('Parramatta') which means "head of waters", "the place where the eels lie down", or "eel waters" To this day many eels and other sea creatures are attracted to nutrients created by the saltwater of Port Jackson meeting the freshwater of the Parramatta River. The eel has been adopted as the symbol of the Parramatta Eels Rugby League club.
Parramatta was founded in 1788, the same year as Sydney. The British Colony, which had arrived in January 1788 in the First Fleet at Sydney Cove, had only enough food to support itself for a short time and the soil around Sydney Cove proved too poor to grow the amount of food that 1,000 convicts, soldiers and administrators needed to survive. 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.
On Sunday 2 November 1788, Governor Phillip took a detachment of marines along with a surveyor and, in boats, made his way upriver to a location that he called The Crescent, a defensible hill curved round a river bend, now in Parramatta Park. As a settlement developed, Governor Phillip gave it the name "Rose Hill" (now used for a nearby suburb) which in 1791 he changed to Parramatta, approximating the term used by the local Aboriginal people.
In an attempt to deal with the food crisis, Phillip in 1789 granted a convict named James Ruse the land of Experiment Farm at Parramatta on the condition that he develop a viable agriculture. There Ruse became the first person to successfully grow grain in Australia. The Parramatta area was also the site of John Macarthur's pioneering of the Australian wool industry at Elizabeth Farm in the 1790s.
Governor Arthur Phillip built a small house for himself on the hill of The Crescent. In 1799 this was replaced by a larger residence which, substantially improved by Governor Lachlan Macquarie from 1815 to 1818, has survived to the present day, used as a retreat by Governors until the 1850s with one Governor (Governor Brisbane) making it his principal home for a short period in the 1820s. The house, Old Government House, is currently a historic site and museum within Parramatta Park and is Australia's oldest surviving public building.
In 1803, a famous incident occurred in Parramatta, involving a convicted criminal named Joseph Samuel, originally from England. Samuel was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by hanging, but the rope broke. In the second attempt, the noose slipped off his neck. In the third attempt, the new rope broke. Governor Phillip was summoned and pardoned Samuel, as the incident appeared to him to be divine intervention.
Parramatta has many buildings on the Register of the National Estate, including: