An attempt to visit every suburb in Sydney.

Today, I dig into the second city ever founded in Australia, and what politicians keep telling us is Sydney's second CBD. Welcome to ...

What's the Matta with: Parramatta


Today, I dig into the second city ever founded in Australia, and what politicians keep telling us is Sydney's second CBD. Welcome to

Parramatta

Although Parramatta is definitely part of Western Sydney (can we call it the capital of Western Sydney? Controversial), geographically, it basically sits smack bang in the city's centre. The easiest way to make it in is by taking a 25 minute train ride from Central which is what I did today.
Parramatta station

What I like about Parramatta station, is that you feel like you're in an actual city. By that, I don't mean that there are shiny glass buildings around it (although that is true),

but that it's properly connected to its surrounds. From the station, you can get direct trains east, west, northwest and southwest, and you've also got a bus station at your doorstep filling the gaps. There's even a Singapore-esque underground walkway to the nearby Westfield shopping centre.

On this beautiful summer's day, I exited the station and walked along the street past the restaurants outside Westfield.

I continued along, under the rail bridge, and made my way to the suburb's main square.

Here, there's a historic church and town hall, as well as the general bustle of the square.

After the square you hit Church St. Church St is the suburb's main (non-Westfield) eating and shopping street.

Church St wants to be fancy (and to be fair it is nicer than your average suburban shopping area after dark),

but it can't escape from its true Westie roots.

But I don't have a problem with that.

As far as I know, there's no rule saying that a suburb can't have a historic bank building,

an eat street,

and also the biggest Cashies I've ever seen.

I turned off of Church St and onto George St. This took me to Parramatta's law quarter. There are a bunch of court buildings here and because I didn't pay enough attention in school, I'm not quite sure of the difference between them all.

They also have this snazzy looking historic well.

At the end of George St are the very regal gates to Parramatta Park. Naturally, I made my way in.

While this isn't Central Park in New York, Parramatta Park does have all the hallmarks of a real city's "big park".

You've got plenty of trees and walking paths (you can even walk over to neighbouring Westmead from here),

this historic building,

the ability to see un-historic buildings outside the park's bounds,

a little bit of water,

and even some wildlife. That's pretty good when you consider that Hyde Park in the city only has rats.

I crossed this bridge (from 1923) to get to the other side of the brown Parramatta River.

Continuing on out of the park, I passed Parramatta Stadium, and continued walking along the river's edge.

Sitting on this path is this rather pretty historic building which I suspect is a school but can't really tell.

Sadly, they've erected a giant fence between you and it, somewhat ruining the ambience.

Also pretty, but in a very different way, is the rather grungy weir which sits at this point on Parramatta river.

Continuing along the river, it's clear that Parramatta has caught the development bug, with work-in-progress construction sitting by a couple of the huge towers which have recently sprung up in Parramatta's "downtown".

Regardless of your thoughts on high rises, Parramatta river is quite a pleasant walk, with a mix of old and new.

Pleasingly, there are also a number of tributes to this area's history - both European and Aboriginal - here.

But let's be real for a second, this is no Circular Quay. You wouldn't eat a fish you caught here.

There's even this sign telling you not to.

A shout out does go to these folks playing some sort of kayak-soccer game in the polluted river though.

I ended my Parramatta river walk here and made my way back inland. This route took me through Parramatta's main business district, where a handful of major companies have set up offices. Understandably, it was pretty quiet on this Saturday.

It was now time for me to backtrack back towards the station. On my way, I passed this cafe which looks like it was lifted out of Paris.

Eventually, I hit Church St again, looping back the way I came and heading home via the station.

Parramatta: Can it really call itself Sydney's second CBD? You know what, it might just have what it takes.

6 comments:

  1. The historic building you saw in the park (picture number 20) is old government house https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Government_House,_Parramatta. The court house that has th lion and the kangaroo is Parramatta district court. The second one is the family court.

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    1. Yep, and I think there are a couple of other courts there too (although I may be mistaken)

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  2. interesting article! it's nice to see there's more to Parramatta than the Westfield and Church St.

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  3. I'm not so convinced about Parramatta - it's the in-between zones that irk me. Between the old Spice alley and it's surrounds - concrete city for the first 3 ground floors up, all you hear is mechanical vents working overtime. It feels very cold and sterile facing the street. You'd likely never see that if a council was paying attention - who let the developers put them at street level and disrupt the ambience of the streetscape? Not to mention the lack of thought put into the transition of church Street and it's surrounds from its Westie roots to a commercial hub (a slew of discount and pawn shops are major signs of high crime and poverty rates. Check out the dying rural city centres and you'll see what I mean - I realise I'm being rather judgemental but it's true..). It just stinks of council corruption to me unfortunately. I wish the side streets were more activated and that the activity weren't so focussed on church Street. Right now what you have isnt a. City centre but a country town strip mall that's been cashed up. The change needs to start from within imo - the community.

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    1. Yeah that's totally fair. I think Parra still is a work in progress though. Time will tell how it plays out.

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