Fancy a charming getaway down under, away from the bustling big cities? Why not consider Parramatta?
Located in Sydney’s Western suburb, Parramatta is where you can discover a different side of Sydney. One of the few big Australian cities that has kept its Aboriginal name – Burramatta, which means “the place where the eels lie down” – culture and history are its biggest drawcards.
According to The Guardian, forty-five per cent of Parramatta’s residents were born overseas. Collectively, they speak a staggering 140 languages!
All year round, Parramatta draws tourists and locals alike to its fascinating heritage sites, enlivening eat streets, and sprawling wildlife parks. In this article, the team at PARKROYAL Parramatta will share with you some of the best gems in “Australia’s next big city.”
|Address||Bradleys Head Rd, Mosman NSW 2088
|Phone Number||+61 2 9969 2777
|Opening Hours||9:30am to 5:00pm daily
Symbio Wildlife Park
|Address||7-11 Lawrence Hargrave Dr, Helensburgh NSW 2508
|Phone Number||+61 2 4294 1244
|Opening Hours||9:30am to 5:00pm daily (Closing times may vary during the winter months)
Experiment Farm Cottage
|Address||9 Ruse Street, Harris Park, NSW 2150
|Phone Number||+61 2 9635 5655
|Opening Hours||Wednesday to Sunday: 10:30am to 3:30pm|
For the Captain Cooks among you, don’t miss out on visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cockatoo Island. Just hop on a ferry from Circular Quay in Sydney, and you’ll be transported back to Australia’s colourful convict past while exploring its salt-baked maritime dockyards.
Keen to experience Cockatoo’s eerie side? Go for a Haunted History night tour - it's deadly popular (pun intended) and will let you in on many of the island’s hidden and scary secrets. Apparently, prisoners were sometimes left for weeks in coffin-like sandstone solitary confinement cells; several escapees reportedly drowned trying to swim to freedom across shark-infested waters. There’s also a Crooked Characters tour that will regale you with sordid tales of charlatans, rogues, and thieves.
Or simply pack a picnic, fire up a barbecue, chill out at a cafe, or book an audio tour to wander around the island at leisure. Cockatoo’s camp-ground attracts some 20,000 campers a year and is a popular spot for watching Sydney's renowned NYE fireworks, so staking your space here is definitely an option.
For a life lesson on self-sufficiency, look no further than Experiment Farm Cottage, an eclectic tourist attraction in Sydney’s Western suburbs that started off as an experiment – as its name suggests. This began back in the 18th Century, when Governor Phillip allocated 12 hectares of land to emancipated convict James Ruse to see how long it would take a new settler to successfully feed himself and his family.
In 1793, Ruse sold his farm to surgeon John Harris who built the existing cottage in 1834. The grounds of the cottage have since been landscaped with its interiors re-created to resemble its colonial-era setting. It now forms part of an historical precinct which includes Hambledon Cottage, Elizabeth Farm, and the Queen’s Wharf, all of which are within walking distance of one another.
To walk on Sydney’s wild side, try Taronga Zoo or Symbio Wildlife Park. You may also sign up for the Aussie Zoom Tour at Symbio Park, which allows you to feed cuddly koalas, kangaroos, wombats, and the zoo’s very own albino echidna. Or head to Homebush Bay to catch a glimpse of the “floating forest” - a shipwreck given a new lease of life by mangrove trees, its new green occupants.
Get directions to Taronga Zoo
Get directions to Symbio Wildlife Park
Get directions to Experiment Farm Cottage
Get directions to Shipwreck Lookout (Homebush Bay)
|Address||Shop 5 (Meriton Altitude) 330 Church St, Parramatta, NSW 2150
|Phone Number||+61 2 9056 2789
|Opening Hours||Lunch: 12:00pm - 2:30pm daily
Dinner: Sunday to Thursday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm
Friday to Saturday: 5:00pm - 11:00pm
|Address||Shop 2184, 159-175 Church St, Westfield Parramatta, NSW 2150
|Phone Number||+61 2 8810 8881
|Opening Hours||Monday to Friday: 11:00am to 3:30pm, 5:30pm to 9:30pm
Saturday and Sunday: 11:00am to 9:30pm
|Address||62 Wigram St, Harris Park, NSW 2150
|Phone Number||+61 2 9687 7785
|Opening Hours||10:00am to 10:00pm daily|
|Address||71 George Street, Parramatta, NSW 2150
|Phone Number||+61 2 9633 9926
|Opening Hours||11:30am to 2:30pm, and 5:30pm to 9:30pm daily
Closed on Mondays.
With a recent burst of fine dining establishments, Parramatta’s food scene is one of Sydney’s fastest growing food districts. The Daily Telegraph even hails it as a “mecca for foodies.” Interestingly, some of its best eats are probably more Asian than Australian.
For the best Thai food in Sydney, head to Holy Basil along Church Street, also known as Parramatta’s “Eat Street”, which is mere minutes away from PARKROYAL Parramatta. We guarantee that the roast pork belly in chilli basil, vegetarian pad thai, and homemade curry puffs will not disappoint.
Fancy some chilli crab or laksa? You’ll be able to satisfy your cravings, and then some, at Temasek, another stalwart in Parramatta’s dining scene. Hidden in a little laneway, this humble establishment has been serving up some of Sydney’s best Malaysian and Singaporean dishes for over a decade, and it is one of popular DJ, chef, and writer Andrew Levins’ top two favourite restaurants in Parramatta.
Chef’s Gallery is an award-winning Chinese restaurant in Parramatta, but it has no airs. It’s all about simple, wholesome Chinese food here, done well and photographed prettily. Look out for its emoji-inspired buns filled with custard, as well as crowd-pleasers such as prawn and pork wontons in soup and its signature duck fried rice.
For a slice of Indian cuisine, Billu’s in Harris Park will not disappoint. Hot (and spicy) favourites here include the butter chicken, dry eggplant with eggplants, briyani, and garlic naan.
If you’re still hungry for more, check out this list of Parramatta’s good eats.
Get directions to Holy Basil
Get directions to Temasek
Get directions to Chef’s Gallery
Get directions to Billu's
Sydney Olympic Park Archery Centre
|Address||Bennelong Parkway, Sydney Olympic Park NSW 2127
|Phone Number||+61 2 9714 7502
|Opening Hours||Tuesday to Friday: 10:00am to 4:00pm
Saturday to Sunday: 9:30am to 5:30pm
(Winter timings may vary.)
9 Degrees Parramatta
|Address||Unit 11, 38-46 South Street, Rydalmere NSW 2116
|Phone Number||+61 2 8872 1052
|Opening Hours||Monday to Friday: 10:00am to 10:00pm
(Opens at 4:00pm on Thursday)
Saturday to Sunday: 9:00am to 10:00pm
Seeking to work off the calories or experience an adrenaline rush? There are heaps of sporty and fun things to do in Parramatta.
For starters, try your hand at archery at Sydney Olympic Park. The archery centre offers an Aim for Fun programme that covers the basics of archery in a one-and-a-half-hour session. Suitable for those aged 10 and above, you can try your hand at becoming a modern day Robin Hood or Katniss Everdeen (for Hunger Gamesfans).
Or get those arm muscles working at 9 Degrees, which prides itself on being Western Sydney's premier bouldering facility. Equipped with the latest in climbing walls, hand-hold shapes, and nine levels of difficulty, it promises hours of fun for the entire family.
For those who desire a more scenic exercise route, try kayaking at Rozelle Bay, listed as one of the best places to go kayaking in Sydney. You’ll get to experience the beauty of Sydney harbour from a different angle and work up a sweat while enjoying its bracing sea air. Click here to discover other picturesque kayaking spots and visit Annandale Boat Hire for details on hiring kayaks.
Get directions to Sydney Olympic Park
Get directions to 9 Degrees Parramatta
Get directions to Rozelle Bay