Monuments and Historic Sites
Parramatta Park is one of Australia’s most significant historical areas and is home to more than 100 archaeological sites relating to Aboriginal and early Colonial history. The monuments and historical sites in the Park offer a significant and fascinating insight into the past. Old Government House, The Dairy Precinct and The Crescent are all major attractions at Parramatta Park, along with the following memorials and monuments.
There are six gatehouses in Parramatta Park located at entrances on George Street (the Tudor Gatehouse), Ross Street, Park Road, Macquarie Street, Great Western Highway at Mays Hill and Queens Road. These gatehouses date from the 1870s and, as a group, make an important contribution to the cultural landscape values of the Park. Four of the gatehouses have been conserved and three are tenanted. The style of the gatehouses reflects their strategic location, ranging from the grand entrances of the Tudor-style George Street Gatehouse and the Gothic-style Macquarie Street Gatehouse, to the humble utilitarian entrances of the Park. The George Street Gatehouse is a key entry point for the Park and an iconic landmark in Parramatta. It was built by the Parramatta Park Trust in 1885, on the site of Governor Macquarie’s small stone lodge. The architect was Scottish born Gordon McKinnon and it was built by local builders Hart and Lavors. The wrought iron gates were made by local blacksmith T Forsyth.
The Observatory Transit Stones
The observatory was built by Governor Brisbane in 1822 and was used to make some of the most important early astronomical observations in the southern hemisphere. Two marker trees were planted to the south of the transit stones with two additional trees in the southern domain (in the May’s Hill area). All four trees marked a north-south alignment across the Governor’s Domain. The observatory building fell into ruin and was demolished in 1848, with only the transit stones on their plinth left standing.
The Bath House
The Bath House was completed in 1823 for Governor Brisbane. It is believed that, due to his war wounds, the Governor wanted a private place with warm baths. This building has been associated with the two colonial architects Francis Greenway and Standish Harris. The Bath House contains archaeological remains related to the pumping system which was developed to bring water to the Bath House, as well as to heat the water. In 1886 the Park Trustees converted the Bath House to a pavilion, which is the form in which the building still survives today.
Boer War Memorial
The Boer War Memorial was erected in 1904. The memorial is of regional significance for its commemoration of the first overseas military engagement in which troops representing Australia, as distinct to Britain, took part, and is particularly significant as the first of the Australian troops to arrive in Africa in 1899 to take part in the Boer War came from the Lancer Barracks, Parramatta. 100 Lancers from the surrounding districts took part in engagements.
Memorial to William (Billy) E. Hart
William E. Hart was the first Australian to fly a plane and the first qualified pilot in Australia. This memorial commemorates an early pioneering cross country flight, the first in Australia, from Penrith to Parramatta Park on 4 November 1911 by Hart. Flying against Wizard Stone of America, Hart won in 23 minutes after Stone lost his way and landed at Lakemba. The memorial is of cultural significance commemorating an important and enterprising pioneer in Australian aviation history.
Lady FitzRoy Memorial
This memorial was erected to commemorate the place where Lady FitzRoy and the Governor’s Aide, Lieutenant Charles Masters, were killed when their carriage, driven by Governor FitzRoy, overturned and hit a tree within the Park in 1847. The event was widely viewed at the time as ‘an irreparable misfortune to the colony’ and marked the beginning of a period of decline of Government House and the area known as Government Domain.
The Settlement at Rose Hill
Governor Phillip knew the success of the colony depended on becoming self sufficient so, after the failure of the first farm - located at Farm Cove (now the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney), explored the vast harbour in search of fertile land. In April 1788 he discovered the lightly timbered, open country at the head of the Parramatta River, which offered the prospect of easy cultivation. A settlement was established on 2nd November 1788, and named Rose Hill in honour of George Rose, the English Secretary of the Treasury.
The Government Farm
The Government Farm was the first successful farm established in the colony. Henry Edward Dodd, one of the few experienced farmers in the colony, oversaw the farm and in the spring and summer of 1788, 70 acres were cleared and planted. A barn, a house and a granary were also established. In December 1789, the first season produced a 'plentiful and luxuriant' vegetable crop as well as two hundred bushels of wheat, sixty bushels of barley and a small quantity of flax, Indian corn and oats. While this was a pleasing first crop, most of the crop was reserved for seed, and it was in no way sufficient to feed the colony, which was still dependent on supply vessels.