Friday 15th June - My friend Bebe who lives in Sydney's western suburbs had invited me to join her for the day, so she could show me around Parramatta, where we could visit a few heritage buildings.
I took the bus from the suburb of Middle Cove into the city and walked from the last stop in Bridge street to Circular Quay station. On the way to the station I spotted some statues in a small park and also visited Customs House just across from the station.
|Street art in Sydney|
Customs House is an historic landmark in Sydney, built in 1844-45 in response to Sydney's growing volume of maritime trade and has since 2005 been the home of the Sydney city library. They also have on the ground floor (or first floor for the Americans, as Elizabeth informed me recently) some comfortable chairs and an array of foreign newspapers which seemed to be a popular section.
On the ground floor too is a glass floor and underneath you can see a scale model of Sydney's centre complete with the bridge, the Opera House, etc.
|Custom's House, foreign newspaper room and cafe/restaurant|
|Scale model of Sydney's CBD|
After the short visit I caught the blue line train to Granville, and half an hour later my friend was waiting for me just outside the platform.
We got in her car and drove to the Western Sydney University campus to visit the Female Orphan School that operated in one of the buildings right across the Parramatta river.
The school operated from 1813 to 1850, giving girls the skills for them to work as domestic servants and escape a life of poverty, immorality and prostitution. Many of the girls were in fact not orphans, but had only one parent who was living in poverty or was ill or convict parents. Their ages ranged from 3 to 13 and places at the school were sought after.
The building is also the oldest three-storey building in the country and after its life as an orphanage it served as a psychiatric hospital until ideas about mental health changed and the building became disused by mid 1980's.
The University took over the restoration of the building and it is now the home of the Whitlam Institute.
Sadly not much is left alluding to the orphanage or the psychiatric hospital with only the wall adjoining the staircase showing the original brick and wallpaper and a few old bathroom basins.
On the top floor on one side of the building was an exhibition - Blaze: Working women, Public leaders - about New South Wales women leaders in the public sector.
On the other side was the Whitlam Institute and Whitlam Prime Ministerial Library, the public institute that commemorates and is inspiring by the life and work of the Hon. Gough Whitlam AC QC, with more than 35 thousand objects that capture the personality, public life and government of Australia's greatest reforming Prime Minister from 1972 to 1975. He died in 2014 at the age of 98.
Right next to the river is a small cottage that is the office of the University's Deputy Vice-Chancellor.
|Parramatta River, Deputy vice-chancellor cottage and various metal artworks|
Another renovated building in the campus is the 1894 Boiler house - where 2 steam boilers generated power to cook meals and provide hot water for laundry and bathing of the nearby orphanage/psychiatric hospital. The building was destroyed by fire in early 1990's and has been transformed into a stylish restaurant and outdoor noodle bar, that adds a vibrancy to campus life. In 2012, the building won an award for adaptive reuse of an historic building.
On the outside wall are a couple of industrial washing machines, and the boilers and other old machinery have been displayed around the campus and restaurant.
On the brick side of the house on the left was a ceramic mosaic of Mrs Elizabeth Macquarie (1778-1835) the wife of the 5th Governor of New South Wales who took particular interest in the welfare of women convicts and indigenous people.
The mosaic by Michael Keighery was commissioned in 2011 and is made up of thousand of individual photos.
On researching this mosaic I've also discovered that there is a University Sculpture walk.
|The boiler house, and mural of Elizabeth Macquarie|
From here we drove to Parramatta Park where we parked near Gatehouse Tea rooms where we had something light to eat for lunch - my friend Bebe ordered a Savoury muffin with salad and I had a baked Egg frittata with salad. The cafe in the 1887 Old Governors gatehouse is quaint, food was delicious and the service very attentive.
Next we went across the park to visit Old Government House, the former country residence used by ten former New South Wales governors between 1800 and 1847.
In 1799 the second Governor erected a building on this site, and in 1815 Governor Lachlan Macquarie and his wife Elizabeth, added to the building, which resembles the building today. The elegant Old Colonial Georgian style building is furnished in the 1820's style and is Australia's oldest public building.
There was an exhibition about Governor Macquarie and his link to Indian culture, spices and plants that he brought to Australia on his travels to India.
|Old Government House back and front , the dining room and entrance hall|
|Kitchen and Indian spices, Indian robes, Indian plants brought to Australia|
|The bedrooms, embroidery from the 1900's and men's dress jacket|
On the way to Bebe's home she drove by St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church at 2 Phillip st, built in 1925-26 and was known to have one of the finest organs in the State.
In 1990 a new parish was opened in North Parramatta and this church closed. In 1997 the church was sold for $1,580,000 and has seen a range of retail uses such as a restaurant, nightclub and bar and is since 2008 the home of the Bavarian Bier Cafe.
Luckily the facade and hall of the former church as well as the stained glass windows have been preserved in their original condition.
I went inside to take some photos and was awed by the wooden roof trusses, the stained glass windows, the pew style benches.
One of the waitresses came to ask if I wanted to be seated and I said I was just taking photos and she said the Bier cafe would actually be closing soon for a short while for safety reasons, as there was a building going up next door. I just hope the church is kept intact!
And so ended our day of sightseeing around Parramatta.
At Bebe's house she showed me the latest renovations they've been doing to their house and then we sat for a while chatting about genealogy and looking at her collection of cooking books.
When my husband boarded the train in Sydney he called me and Bebe's husband picked him up from Granville station half an hour later.
We then went to dinner at one of the Indian restaurants in Parramatta in a street packed door to door with Indian restaurants!
I forgot to take photos of the name of the restaurant or the food, but we had a great dinner, our friends insisted on paying for dinner and then still drove us home, a 45 minute drive!
A big thank you to two lovely people who provided us with a great day.