Parramatta (pronounced /ˈpærɑːmætɑː/) is a suburb in the west of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It sits on the bank of the Parramatta River, 23 kilometres (14 mi) west of the Sydney central business district, approximately at the geographical centre of its metropolitan area. It is known colloquially as ‘Parra’.
Parramatta is the administrative seat of the Local Government Area (LGA) of the City of Parramatta. Part of the suburb is shared with the City of Holroyd LGA. It is a major urban centre of New South Wales; 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 New South Wales Police Force headquarters, and Sydney Water in 2009, 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 Civic Place local government precinct.
The Darug people had lived in the area for many generations, and regarded the area as a food bowl, rich in food from the river and forests. They called the area Baramada or Burramatta (‘Parramatta’) which means “head of waters”or “the place where the eels lie down”.To this day there is a plentitude of eels and other sea creatures attracted to the profusion of nutrients created by the saltwater of Port Jackson meeting the freshwater of the Parramatta River’s catchment. The eel has been adopted as the symbol of the Parramatta Eels Rugby League club.
 European settlement
Parramatta was founded in 1788, the same year as Sydney. The British Colony, which had arrived in January 1788 in the First Fleet at Sydney Cove, had only enough food to support itself for a short time and the soil around Sydney Cove proved too poor to grow the amount of food that 1,000 convicts, soldiers and administrators needed to survive. During 1788, Governor Arthur Phillip had reconnoitred several places before choosing Parramatta as the most likely place for a successful large farm. Parramatta was the furthest navigable point inland on the Parramatta River (i.e. furthest from the thin, sandy coastal soil) and also the point at which the river became freshwater and therefore useful for farming.
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” (now used for a nearby suburb) which in 1791 he changed to Parramatta, approximating the term used by the local Aboriginal people.
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 John Macarthur’s pioneering of the Australian wool industry at Elizabeth Farm in the 1790s.
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, 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.
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