Thursday, 5 July 2018

Sydney - Parramatta - day 3

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.


  1. You had such a pleasant and rewarding day!!
    Continuo a dizer: que cidade maravilhosa.
    : )

  2. ...thanks for taking me along!

  3. Once again you've taken me on a delightful journey, and I loved it! Hugs...RO

    1. Thanks RO, glad you enjoyed the journey.

  4. Que maravilha este passeio em Sidney uma cidade fantástica.
    Um abraço e continuação de boa semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

    1. Obrigada Francisco, ainda bem que gostou do passeio.

  5. The interior of that former church is a show stopper!

    1. I thought so too, really awesome! Thanks William

  6. Que dizer Estou encantada com o filme relatado. Muito bonito e assim dá gosto de mostrar o meu bairro e locais que conheço a quem também aprecia estes passeios. Gostei imenso de estar convosco, mas...há mais para te mostrar. Doces beijos e obrigada pela vossa visita.

    1. Obrigada Bebe pelo fabuloso passeio por Parramatta, fico imensamente agradecida.

  7. An impressive looking city and some beautiful photos. It looks like you and Bebe had a wonderful day. I'll bet the Indian resto was delish too!

    1. Thanks Jeanie, we had a great day and the food was very good too of course.

  8. There was quite a bit to see. The model at the Customs House looks interesting. We baulked at the entrance fee to Government House in Parramatta, and now I have seen inside for free.

    1. Thanks Andrew, I agree the fee was quite steep...

  9. Dearest Sami,
    Wow, what a lovely dive back into history and visiting such interesting buildings. Or for that sake, whatever is still left of them... Sadly to see certain things vanish. Indeed, hoping that the Church will remain.
    What a dear Friends (yes, with a capital 'F') you both have and how delightful for rounding it all off with a yummy Indian dinner. Would have loved to join and fact that you forgot to take photos, only praises the company you were in.

    1. Thank you Mariette, yes they both are wonderful and giving people who gave us a wonderful day in a part of Sydney I didn't know.

  10. Yet another wonderful post and a joy read about your friends and their thoughtfulness.

    I was most impressed with the scale model of Sydney Center at the Custom's House. Worth the time spent there, as well as the great architecture.

    How sad about the orphanage, and another loss of historic places to neglect or renovation. But I really enjoyed the statues and the Boiler House.

    I also enjoyed seeing the Old Govt. House, but the photos inside the now Bier Cafe were incredible. Those trusses were out of this world. Let's hope the place is still standing should you ever want to return.

    Thanks for taking us with you to another part of Sydney and the lovely photos you took.

    1. It's sad that some old history was lost or discarded as not important, but nowadays people want to know about that past.
      I do hope the Bier Garden/church stays there as is, because it's beautiful. Thanks Elizabeth.

  11. Every time I read your travel posts Sami I am in awe of how much you pack into a short space of time. I've been going to Sydney twice a year for the last six years and haven't seen nearly as much as you have ✨

    1. Thanks Grace, you have family commitments Grace so you have to spend time with them, I just wander the city on my own mostly as J is at work, so I can do a lot :)

    2. The churros made me smile too Sami, remember how many there were and that HUGE marshmallow 😀 Aimee had a hot chocolate and her eyes nearly popped out when she saw the size of it 😀😀

  12. Another lovely post.
    Thank you for taking time to share the information and photographs.

    All the best Jan

  13. Sydney sure has some interesting history to show!
    Sad the orphanage/hospital is not a museum, but glad they keep the old buildings.
    Those boilers are impressive, too, can imagine it was quite dangerous around them.
    The Old Government House is impressive as is the church. Just a crazy thought to have a beer in there...
    Thanks for another interesting journey, Sami!

    1. Thanks Iris. It was a pity we didn't get the time to go back to the beer place after dinner, but it was getting late and our friends still had a long way to take us and get back home.
      I wish the orphanage had a bit more stuff from then.


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