is a suburb and major business district in the metropolitan area of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It is located in Greater Western Sydney 23 kilometres (14 mi) west of the Sydney central business district on the banks of the Parramatta River. Parramatta is the administrative seat of the local government area of the City of Parramatta.
Parramatta, founded in the same year as Sydney by the British in 1788, is the oldest inland European settlement in Australia, 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 NSW 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. It is colloquially known as Parra.
The Darug people who lived in the area before European settlement 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 that are concentrated where the saltwater of Port Jackson meets the freshwater of the Parramatta River. The Parramatta EelsRugby League club chose their symbol as a result of this phenomenon.
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" after George Rose, Secretary for the British Treasury. In 1791 he changed the name to Parramatta, approximating the term used by the local Aboriginal people. A neighbouring suburb acquired the name Rose Hill.
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 the pioneering of the Australian wool industry by John Macarthur's Elizabeth Farm in the 1790s. Philip Gidley King’s account of his visit to Parramatta on 9 April 1790 is one of the earliest descriptions of the area. Walking four miles with Governor Phillip to Prospect he saw undulating grassland interspersed with magnificent trees and a great amount of kangaroos and emus.
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,making it the oldest surviving Government House anywhere in Australia. It was 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, another 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 King was summoned and pardoned Samuel, as the incident appeared to him to be divine intervention.
In 1816, after the Cataract Gorge massacre, Macquarie rewarded Aboriginal 'compliance' by opening a 'school' for Aboriginal children at Parramatta. This school was later relocated to "Black Town".
Parramatta is home to several primary and secondary schools. Arthur Phillip High School is the oldest public school in the district (it is in buildings which have been continuously used as a school since 1875), established in 1960 in its own right. Parramatta High School was the first coeducational school in the Sydney metropolitan area established in 1913. Our Lady of Mercy College is one of the oldest Catholic schools in Australia. Macarthur Girls High School is successor to an earlier school 'Parramatta Commercial and Household Arts School'. Others schools include Macquarie Boys Technology High School, Parramatta Public School, Parramatta East Public School, Parramatta West Public School, and St Patrick's Primary Parramatta.
Several tertiary education facilities are also located within Parramatta. One of six University of Western Sydney campuses is situated in the suburb. The University of Western Sydney consists of three sites: Parramatta South (the main site), Parramatta North and the Parramatta City campus located at 100 George Street. Parramatta South campus occupies the site of the historic Female Orphan School. The UWS Village is also located in Parramatta, adjacent to the Parramatta North campus. The Alphacrucis College is a national vocational and higher education college, located at 30 Cowper Street.
As the centre of the City of Parramatta, as well as the centre and second largest business district of Sydney, Parramatta hosts many festivals and events. Riverbeats is an annual celebration of Parramatta River which includes the Loy Krathong (Thai Water Festival). Each October, the city hosts Parramasala, which is a festival celebrating Parramatta's multiculturalism, in particular, South East Asian culture. Riverside Theatres is located on the northern bank of Parramatta River.
Parramatta is the home of several professional sports teams. These teams include the Parramatta Eels of the National Rugby League and Western Sydney Wanderers of the A-League. Both teams plays matches at the 21,500 seat Parramatta Stadium. Parramatta Stadium was also home to the now dissolved Sydney Wave of the former Australian Baseball League and Parramatta Power of the former National Soccer League.
Parramatta Park is a popular venue for walking, jogging and bike riding. Parramatta Swimming Centre is also popular and includes a 10 lane 50m swimming pool, twin waterslides, and dive towers.