As I drove into Paramatta I could not help but notice the high rise office blocks lining the skyline ahead of me and it soon became apparent that Parramatta is a major city within the Sydney area.
With it being a major Sydney city it has all the trappings that come with it. The rows of used car lots, massive shopping centres, parking meters and traffic – lots of traffic. Compared to some of the smaller towns and villages I’ve called into, I can’t help but feel I am getting lost in a concrete maze and an impersonal world to the outsider and a world that works best between the hours of nine to five, Monday to Friday.
I’m not going to focus on the shopping malls or high street, but step into my time machine to see why Parramatta came into existence so soon in Australia’s history. It was only seven months after the First Fleet’s arrival in Sydney that the beginnings of Parramatta as a farming settlement commenced?
The answer is relatively straightforward. The land in the area was good for farming and with Parramatta River an easy connection with Sydney was possible. The river also turned into fresh water at this point. So, within just two years the town begun to take shape and 552 inhabitants (of which 500 were convicts) called “Rose Hill”, which then became Parramatta in 1791, home. By the early 1800s, hospitals, schools, churches and other public buildings had all been established, and the town prospered as an army town and as a centre of colonial government and the rest as they say is history.
Before I move on, I feel I must retell the tale of a certain Joseph Samuel who was the centre of attention in an incident that occurred in Parramatta in 1803. Joseph was originally sent to Australia in 1801 for robbery. Upon arrival, he was involved in a gang that robbed the home of a wealthy lady during which incident a police officer got killed. Joseph confessed to being involved in the robbery, but not the murder. The other members of the gang we acquitted due to lack of evidence so Joseph was to be hung until dead – only the rope broke! In the second attempt, the noose slipped off his neck and in a third attempt, the new rope broke. As a result of all the excitement from the crowd, Governor Phillip was summoned and pardoned Joseph as the incident appeared to him to be divine intervention.
With it getting rather late in the day, my visit to Parramatta was quite short, but I look forward to returning to see more of the town, its river and learning more of its colourful history before too long.