Protecting our natural diversity
Early Aboriginal occupation of the land occurred at a time when what is now Parramatta Park would have been much further from the coast than it is today. During this time, it was colder, drier and windier; with different types of vegetation and animals. As the climate warmed, sea level rose, and the woodland landscapes expanded from their small niche near the waterways.
The riverside landscape offered a range of resources in a small area. Aboriginal people shaped the land with low‐intensity environmental management practices over many thousands of years. They created a mix of niche environments, which were interconnected by a network of corridors, made by burning and maintaining paths through the high grasses. Different areas were used as hunting grounds for mammals and other food sources and for shelter.
An elevated shale ridge once overlooked alluvial (silt) flats, riverbank terraces and a billabong in the area we now know as The Crescent.
The controlled burning and other land management practices used by Aboriginal people attracted the attention of the British when they arrived to set up a convict colony in 1788. River resource management methods were likely to have been in use as well, though they went unnoticed by the British.
Recognising the potential of the land, the British established a farm as well as a large compound for cattle at Domain Creek (a tributary of the Parramatta River). A dam was even built to store water for the cattle.
While the Park is widely known as the site of Australia’s second oldest and first successful farm, it was also the country’s first cattle station.
The early settlers practised husbandry and dairying and grazed horses, sheep, goats and hogs. Beyond the government farm, settlers grew corn, wheat, oats and barley.
The Crescent became the domestic gardens for Government House for many years. At various times, park land was leased to Chinese Australian market gardeners and to pastoralists, who grazed privately‐owned stock animals on it. Stock was handled through the Ross Street entrance, with access controlled and managed by the gatekeeper, right up until 1950.
Conserving the Park's natural heritage
Ecological evidence dating back to the earliest periods of the British colony show their land use was not neat and orderly and their initial farming methods were crude. Trees were cut down and the grassy‐shrub undergrowth was stripped causing the rapid spread of weeds.
The clearing of land left it weed infested for decades and also caused large amounts of soil to be deposited as sediment into the river systems.
Visit the Environment page to find out how we are conserving the Park’s natural heritage and managing its biodiversity today, including the protected Grey‑headed Flying‑fox camp located in the north‑east corner of the Park.