A Park for the People
Where people come together
Parramatta has long been used by Aboriginal people as a place of meeting. The land we now know as Parramatta Park was actively managed by Aboriginal People through land management practices such as cultural burning. The sound of swimming and bathing would have been heard in The Crescent long before the British built fences and convict compounds.
The British were struck by the park-like beauty of Aboriginal Parramatta, which was the direct consequence of these Aboriginal land management practices.
People were warned off the Domain from the days of Governor Macquarie until the 1840s when Governor Fitzroy set aside land for a public racecourse. The Cumberland Turf Club was formed in 1847. Open spaces were also used for cricket.
Parramatta Park is established
Parramatta Park was formally created in 1858 under the Parramatta Domain Act of 1857. The vice‐regal functions of the Government House and Domain ended, and the former Government Domain was opened as a park for the people.
The Park’s trustees made improvements throughout the latter half of the 19th century – planting avenues of trees and building gatehouses, carriageways, bridges and pavilions. A key part of the Trustee’s role was to care for the many monuments, memorials and historic sites in the park (a role that continues to this day).
As the Park’s older trees died, more oaks and other introduced species were planted to replace them. The Trustees also planted Australian native species.
Playtime in the Park
Local clubs formed around organised sports in the Park, such as cricket and lawn bowls. Recreational pursuits also flourished in the Park, with picnics, carriage driving, public dancing, bicycle riding and swimming among the popular pastimes.
In the 20th century, activities expanded to include golf, tennis, a steam train, rugby league, public foot races and school sport carnivals. While the park’s formal gardens – the Rumsey Rose Garden and the Murray Gardens – continue to be restored and maintained, the focus on reviving native vegetation and regenerating the banks of the river continue.
To see what is happening in the Park now, visit our What's On calendar of events.