|Historical notes: ||Aboriginal Parramatta:
Research has demonstrated that the presence of large and cohesive Aboriginal groups in the township of Parramatta represented a conspicuous and enduring aspect of the post-colonial periods of Parramatta's development (Steele, 1999, 8). Parramatta was their traditional hunting and fishing grounds and this aspect of traditional use can be interpreted still in Parramatta Park through features such remnant indigenous plantings, scarred trees and the proximity to the Parramatta River and riverine features such as the anabranch of the Crescent and the "Island", a billabong type feature near the George Street gatehouse.
1788-1800: military outpost, Government Farm & Domain:
Early in November 1788 Governor Phillip established a military outpost at Rose Hill. He entrusted the supervision of convicts sent there to commence farming to James Smith, a free man who came from England in the Lady Penrhyn intending to proceed to India, but who was permitted to remain at Sydney Cove (Gray, A.J., entry on Dodd in ADBonline, accessed 7/8/9).
On 4 November 1788 a party of ten convicts known to have some farming experience was sent to the site (the Crescent) to clear it and prepare for further troops and convicts. After the initial removal of trees and erection of temporary huts, convicts began clearing land radiating out from the new settlement (McClymont, 2004, 6).
Smith was soon found unequal to the task and was replaced in March 1789 by Henry Dodd. Dodd was an experienced farmhand who arrived with Phillip as his personal servant. He was found to be the only free man who could be employed 'in cultivating the lands on the public account'. In February 1788 he supervised clearing and hoeing operations at the head of Farm Cove and soon had a few acres under corn.
'This man', wrote David Collins, 'joined to much agricultural knowledge a perfect idea of the labour to be required from the convicts; and his figure was calculated to make the idle and the worthless shrink if he came near them'. Although the number of convicts at Rose Hill increased steadily during the year, the military guard was reduced in October. Dodd's 'influence' was such that 'military coercion was not so necessary as when the settlement was first established'.
That Dodd was no mean gardener was apparent to all who saw the 'plentiful and luxuriant' produce, including a cabbage weighing twenty-six pounds (11.8 kg), which he sent to Government House in 1789, a few days before Christmas. In February 1790 Phillip reported that 100 convicts were working under the direction of this 'very industrious man' and that the corn produced was 'exceedingly good'. When Watkin Tench visited Rose Hill in November 1790, Dodd informed him that 88 (36 ha) of 200 acres (81 ha) cleared and prepared for cultivation were under wheat, barley, oats and maize. Tench was mildly critical of certain procedures, but readily appreciated the practical problems (ibid, ADBonline, accessed 7/8/9).
Phillip laid out the area of the Domain in 1790 as part of the Parramatta township. It was located on the western edge of the original township, and contained a Governor's residence, stockyards, lumber yard, and the redoubt. It was also used for grazing and food cultivation, grazing continuing until 1900 (Old Government House Conservation Plan, 1996). Phillip planned a house and an experimental garden on the site... following the failure of crops in Farm Cove. Beside the first simple government house. of lath and plaster, it contained a gardener's cottage and the experimental garden (Pollen, 1983).
Phillip transferred Henry Edward Dodd from the almost unproductive farm at Farm Cove to Rose Hill to hasten the clearing and planting. Dodd had been a labourer on Phillip's farm in the New Forest in England and accompanied him as his manservant. Desperate for reliable supervisors, Phillip pressed Dodd into service because of this agricultural experience and ability to control working convict on whose results rested the fate of the little colony. A big man, Dodd was hard but fair, able to coax indolent convicts to work; he was greatly respected by the marine officers. He lived across the river from the Redoubt where his hut, a threshing barn and grain store were accessible by bridge (across from Pitt Row). On his visits to the outpost, Phillip shared Dodd's hut until his own house was built in 1790. Dodd's untimely death in January 1791 from pneumonia, was regretted by all. Dodd's grave marker remains the oldest in the stock yard which later became St. John's cemetery. Dodd's efforts contributed greatly to saving the little colony from starvation McClymont, 2004, 6, 8).
Phillip reported in 2/1790 that 100 convicts were then employed in clearing and cultivating the ground: '77 acres in corn promise a good crop'. Surgeon John Harris wrote that) gardens had been established by July 1789, and a small house had been constructed for Superintendent Dodd, who was supervising the agricultural activities. George Barrington, who later occupied this house, states that Phillip initially used this residence prior to the construction of his official 'government house' which commenced mid1790. Lt. Philip Gidley King 9/4/1790 noted that (Dodd's) farm house was on the opposite (northern) side of the creek (Parramatta River). A painting shows a 1791 view of the Government Farm at Rose Hill including Superintendent Dodd's house (taken from the Redoubt (Rosen, 2002, 40)
On 28 January 1791, Dodd, died. He was believed to have taken ill after being exposed to the night while chasing thieves robbing his garden. The garden was an important agricultural site and with the Domain had a crucial role in the early economy of the colony. In late 1791, Mrs Mary Ann Parker described Government House as: a small convenient building, placed upon a gentle ascent, and surrounded by a couple of acres of garden ground'. The six acre garden surrounding Government House had earlier been partly sown with wheat and maize (Rosen, 2002, 40).
Dodd was buried in the corner of a stock reserve which later became the burial-ground of St John's, Parramatta. His funeral was attended by all the free people and convicts at Rose Hill'... A stone erected to his memory still stands in St John's cemetery, but more significantly Collins's tribute endures. 'He had acquired an ascendancy over the convicts which he preserved without being hated by them; he knew how to proportion their labour to their ability, and, by an attentive and quiet demeanour, had gained the approbation and countenance of the different officers who had been on duty at Rose Hill.' (Gray, A.J., entry on Dodd in ADBonline, accessed 7/8/9).
In December 1791 Watkin Tench reported (of the garden around Government House): 'the semicircular hill, which sweeps from the overseer of the cattle's house to the Governor's house, is planted with maize...looked at a little patch of wheat in the governor's garden...went round the crescent at the bottom of the garden, which certainly in beauty and form and situation is unrivalled in New South Wales. Here are eight thousand vines planted. Besides the vines, are several small fruit trees' adding (31/12/1791) that Sydney 'had long been considered only as a depot for stores; it exhibited nothing but a few old scattered huts, and some sterile gardens; Cultivation of the ground was abandoned, and all our strength transferred to Rose Hill...' (Rosen, 2002, 40).
In April 1792, Phillip wrote to Sir Joseph Banks that he had: ' gathered this year about 300 weight of very fine grapes, the quantity next year will be very considerable. I have oranges but they are not yet ripe'
A detail from a c.1796 plan originally prepared by Govr. Hunter, indicates six structures still evident in the vicinity of Dodd's cottage, where opposite, the unnamed Pitt Row runs in front of Government House to the river (ibid, 41).
Under Phillip a town plan was surveyed that included High Street (now George Street), a prominent boulevard designed to rival Pall Mall and other cities finest streets of the time, running between the planned site of Government House and 'The Landing Place', further down the river. High Street was 205'/63m wide and one mile/1.6km long. On each side of this street, the Government erected huts set 60'/18.5m apart and constructed to accommodate 10 persons. These were built of wattle and daub with thatched rooves, and measured 12x24'. Convicts built the new street and huts from July 1790. From the early 1810s these were occupied by emancipated convicts and free settlers. From 1814/5 the huts were in disrepair and many were demolished as part of landscaping by Governor and Mrs Macquarie who pushed back (east) the township to create an expanded Governor's Domain. Huts were still standing outside the Domain in 1822 (now part of the Law Courts/Attorney-General's/Blood bank/Parramatta District Hospital site).
Governor Phillip's second Government House was built in the park in 1790, to facilitate the opening up and settlement of the Sydney basin. Part of the original house is in evidence in the present building which dates from 1799 (extended in the 1810s by the Macquaries). The house was used by NSW's Governors until 1855, after which it was leased to private tenants including the Kings School. The house was taken over by the National Trust (NSW) which opened it as a house museum in 1970. (Old Government House Conservation Plan, 1996)
1800-1857: Science, Government & Recreation:
Governor King (1800-10) appears to have set up Australia's first public botanic garden, under Sir Joseph Banks' personal plant collector, George Caley, on the Government Farm. Caley also used Old Government house to mount and treat his plant collection/specimens.
The character of the Domain was changed by the gradual removal of the stockyards, lumber yard etc to other areas of the township and by Governor Macquarie who extended the domain east to O'Connell Street and reworked the site according to currently fashionable picturesque principles. Phillips straight lined paths and fences were moved out and changed into flowing curves and a more 'naturalistic' character of grass and private estate or parkland. Elizabeth Macquarie is likely to have played a strong part in this refashioning, as she brought pattern books on laying out of estates with her to NSW and had prior involvement in her family's estates in Scotland. The Park's River Road dates to the Macquarie period (c1810-20).
Convicted London joiner and carpenter James Gough (1790-1876) who arrived on the Earl Spencer in 1813 was involved in the joinery at Old Government House (Dalkin, 2014, 31).
Little information is available about the service wings of more substantial residences during the early years in the colony...An inventory of government-owned furnitutre was conduted in 1821 by Major H.C.Antill, prior to the departure of Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie. This itemises the Service WIng's Butler's Pantry, Housekeeper's room, Servants' Hall, Small Larder, Large Larder, Kitchen and Scullery. It ignoresbuilt-in fittings and provides scant information about common domestic artefacts which must have been provided by the Macquaries themselves )(McDonald, 2004, 29).
In 1817 a pigeon house - or probable 'living larder' - was erected at the property (McDonald, 2004, 30).
The Butler's pantry was located conveniently off the Stair Hall so that the incumbent could attend to the arrival and departures of visitors. A variety of domestic tasks were carried out there each day...The current Butler's Pantry was restored by the Trust during the (Centennary of, i.e. 2001) Federation Fund and is loosely based on an 1829 design by Englishman, John Buonarotti Papworth for a property called 'Little Grove' in Barnet, London (McDonald, 2004, 29).
Governor Brisbane (1822-5) had a distinguished military career including campaigns in the Peninsula Wars under the command of his old friend Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington. Through Wellington, Brisbane first sought the Governorship of NSW in 1815, and, after some persuasion, at the age of 46, he got his commission from Lord Bathurst in March 1821. In 1825 he was recalled along with Colonial Secretary Frederick Goulburn when Lord Bathurst refused to side with either in a long-running feud between the two men.
Brisbane, his wife Anna Maria and two month old Isabella Maria and a household of relatives, friends and professional assistants arrived in November 1821. They were not fond of colonial society and never took up residence in Sydney. The Parramatta Domain suited Thomas' desire to pursue astronomical and natural sciences, while being of benefit to Maria Anna's 'delicate' nature and a sound place to raise a young family. Two more children were born there, Eleanor Australia and Thomas Australius. Their last child, Henry, born on the return voyage, survived only three months. During Brisbane's governorship, Government House Parramatta saw its most active period as a residence, centre of government and of scientific research (Hoffman, 2012, 22).
Brisbane brought with him, at his own cost, a complete private observatory, two assistant astronomers, James Dunlop (1793-1848) and Christian Carl (Charles) Rumker (1788-1862) and a keeper of clocks and instruments, James Robertson (Hawkins, 1977, 101). He was also interested in astronomy and had an observatory (complete by 2 May 1822: Hawkins, 1977, 101) and bathhouse built in 1822 on the hill west of Old Government House. This is significant as the first permanent observatory site in Australia, also for Brisbane's contribution as the man who established astronomy and scientific activities in the colony. Brisbane was a skilled astronomer in his own right, and work here produced some of the most important astronomical observations in the southern hemisphere in the first half of the 19th century. The observatory's transit stones were also used as the meridian mark for Thomas Mitchell's first trigonometrical survey of Australia in 1828. The site has additional significance for its historic associations with astronomers Dunlop and Rumker. Both were recognised in Europe for their achievements (McDonald, 1986, abridged). Sir John Herschel referred to the observatory as the locus of Australia's first great scientific achievement (Hawkins, 1977, 101).
Reports from Brisbane's Observatory won him and his assistants Rumker & Dunlop numerous medals, accolades and professional advancements, while Brisbane was to be elected President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1832. The most important discoveries and reports predicted the return of Enke's Comet in June 1822, defining the shape of the earth, and 'A Catalogue of 7385 Stars, Chiefly in the Southern Hemisphere', printed in 1835. Brisbane's catalogue of stars derived from observations made between 1822 and 1826 at Parramatta. For this work he received the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1828. Sir John Herschel during its presentation called Brisbane 'the father of Australian Science' (Hawkins, 1977, 103).
Briefed to wind back many of Macquarie's leniencies towards convicts, Brisbane's governorship saw the establishment of secondary penal colonies at Norfolk Island and Moreton Bay where his name lives on as the city of Brisbane. He himself opposed excessive corporal punishment, and was criticised for his granting of reprieves and pardons. Other indelible achievements included The New South Wales Act 1823 establishing the Legislative Council, Courts of Quarter Sessions and trial by jury, the regulation of parish registers, postal services, control of shipping and registration of deed and legal documents. In 1822 he founded an agricultural training college and was first patron of the NSW Agricultural Society, while allowing freedom of the press in what was still a penal colony (Hoffman, 2012, 22-3).
With Brisbane's departure in 1825,, the observatory was run by Rumker, who was appointed by Governor Darling as first Government Astronomer. Rumker left for England in 1829 to induce the Royal Society to print his astronomical observations made at the observatory. These were published in 1829 but, after quarrelling with Brisbane, Rumker returned to Hamburg in Germany, eventually to become the director of its observatory. All the astronomical instruments remained in the colony and survive in the present observatory on Sydney's Observatory Hill, which was completed in 1858 as Sydney's third observatory (after Dawes' Point and Parramatta)(Hawkins, 1977, 103).
The observatory remains as an archaeological site (transit stones), and the bathhouse was adapted in 1887 as a park pavilion/gazebo. Brisbane also granted land on the Government Farm to the first Agricultural Society in Australia in 1822 as an experimental growing ground for fruit trees and other plants. (See Old King's School/Marsden Rehabilitation Centre site)(DPWS, 2002, 15-16).
In January 1836 the HMS Beagle visited Sydney on its circumnavigation of the globe, under Captain Fitzroy, charting longitudes and latitudes by chronometer for the Royal Navy. Old Government House was important to that expedition, as the reason the Beagle visited Sydney was to check its chronometrical determination of longitude against that determined in Governor Brisbane's Observatory just west of Old Government House. Secondly, the Beagle's Captain Fitzroy attended a party at Old Government House on 18/1/1836, in the company of Hannibal Macarthur, his wife Maria and Mrs Anna King (wife of the colony's third Governor, Philip King (Nicholas, 2008, 10).
Cricket in Parramatta started relatively early after formation of the Sydney colony. "The Commercial Journal" newspaper reported that the 'manly' game of Cricket was introduced to Parramatta in 1839 - the maiden match being played on August 17th for pound and supper at mine host of the Royal Exchange Hotel. The Parramatta District Cricket Club has been officially acknowledged by the NSW Cricket Association Library as the 'oldest living' cricket club in Australia (spanning 163 years). The first recorded match against Liverpool at Parramatta on Monday 11th September 1843. Parramatta won by 35 runs. Over the next decade and a half Parramatta participated in many recorded games, for example in 1848 a match was played against the Fitz Roy Club on 'Harris Meadow' at Parramatta and through the 1850s matches regularly played on the 'Barracks Square'.
The shared heritage between Parramatta Cricket Club and Parramatta Park commenced in 1862 when the Club President Dr.George Hogarth Pringle gained approval to build a Cricket Oval within the race track in Parramatta Park. Members toiled hard for 12 months levelling the surface, growing a well grassed pitch and erecting a modest post and rail fence around the field. In March 1863 the first match (Married v. Single) was played. The Parramatta (Cumberland) Cricket Club continued playing on the oval, with significant matches against English International touring teams in 1881, 1884, 1886, 1887 and 1891. Parramatta was a foundation member of the NSW Cricket Association Grade competition in 1893/4 and continues to participate in this competition. The club switched from Cumberland Oval to Old King's Oval in the early 1970s, to accommodate the initial reshaping of the oval into a rectangular layout for Football, which eventually evolved into Parramatta Stadium in 1986 (Parramatta (Central Cumberland) District Cricket and Parramatta Park 'The Shared Heritage', undated (2009).
Under Governor Fitzroy in the 1840s a Racecourse (the Cumberland Turf Club) was laid out north of the river in response to the 1840s Parramatta Parks Movement which pushed for more public access to the Government Domain. It ran from 1847-1858 (it was large, extending from the River in the west to O'Connell Street in the east) and the Mud Lodge Races ran here from 1858-1883. This was the first step towards a public park which would satisfy the recreational and health needs of the people of Parramatta. The opening of the Vice Regal Domain followed the establishment of the Racecourse (DPWS, 2002, 15).
1857+ Public Park:
In 1857 the western section of the Domain was offered for sale, while 200 acres was retained for public use. The Parramatta Domain Act of 1857 provided for a park of no less than 200 acres to be managed by Trustees for public use and granted as a park for 'promoting the health and recreation of the inhabitants of the town of Parramatta'. The area set aside was not surveyed until 1887 and at that time was 246 acres or 99.6 hectares, which is historically regarded as the original land dedication. An avenue of English oaks was planted along the length of River Road in the 1860s. The opening of the Vice Regal Domain followed the establishment of the Racecourse. Government House was fenced separately and divorced from the park. Cricket was played here from 1868 (DPWS, 2002, 15-16).
By 1902 the fenced cricket ground north of the river was removed and replaced by two entrance avenues to Cumberland Oval. One was a plantation of kurrajongs in line with Victoria Road, the other a more informal plantation of eucalypts and kurrajongs leading from the direction of the King's School. Both led to the ticket box. The Cumberland Oval was double-fenced and its encircling trees removed: the King's Oval retained its encircling trees and gained a picket fence (Parramatta Park Historic Landscape Study, 1987). In the 1910s the Racecourse was divided into three smaller ovals defined by (stone pine) tree planting (DPWS, 2002, 16).
A major programme of restoration works was undertaken to Old Government House in 1909 under the supervision of the Government Architect, Walter Liberty Vernon, before conversion to a school. The verandahs on the pavilions were added at this time. An ablutions block was added to the rear of the north pavilion. The King's School (the oldest independent school in Australia) had continuous occupancy of Old Government House for almost sixty years from 1909, until it was placed in the care of the National Trust of Australia (NSW) in 1967 (National Trust, 2009, 7-8).
Parramatta Park was gazetted as a National Park in 1917 and has since performed the role of a regional park. The Park today is 88.6 hectares in size, representing a loss of 13 hectares in 140 years (Parramatta Park Plan of Management, 1996)
Sporting activities began to dominate after the 1930s including motorcycle and car racing in 1938. In 1939 a Rugby League oval was built at Cumberland Oval (the site of the Stadium) and between 1958 and 1966 a memorial swimming centre alongside (DPWS, 2002, 17).
The road ways in Parramatta Park are significant as many represent the remains of the earliest town planning in Parramatta. The road layouts have been designed to reflect the natural topography of the area including the River Road which follows the course of the Parramatta River. Road alignments have remained substantially unchanged since the 1880s (NB: River Road was constructed by the 1860s and appears on an 1887 survey map.
In 1948 the Murray Memorial Gardens opened on the park's east facing O'Connell Street near the George Street Gate House.
The change of occupancy of Old Government House was brought about by a gesture by the Commercial Bank of Australia Ltd. in granting $50,000 towards restoration work on condition that it was placed in the care of the National Trust of Australia, and with the Government's full endorsement this was agreed to, an Act of Parliament being passed in 1967. A programme of restoration works were undertaken between 1968-70 under the direction of L.J.Buckland, honorary architect in charge of works, aimed at returning the house to the configuration used by Macquarie in 1815 based on the plans of Lt.Watts (National Trust, 2009, 8).
The Visitors' Centre (then kiosk) was built c.1985, designed by Tonkin Zulaikha architects.
A lone pine (Pinus sp.) descended from the Lone Pine at Gallipoli, Turkey was planted in Murray Memorial Gardens in 1988.
During the 1990s the National Trust (NSW) removed a number of the earlier modifications to Old Government House, including many of the outbuildings. Despite the use of the Lt.Watts plans, the house both internally and externally is somewhat different in detail to its appearance in 1816. The Trust's approach has been to present the ground floor largely as it was used by the Macquaries, with the exception of the Governor's Office. Very few of the service areas are presented to the public. Work has been undertaken in the Macquaries' drawing room to present it as it would have appeared based on the early inventories. The garden was also modified to a layout based on 19th century landscaping principles by John Claudius Loudon and a local Sydney nurseryman, Thomas Shepherd. Sometime later it was discovered that the layout that was removed, was in fact an early layout of the carriage loop that had survived intact until the 1850s when it was mapped during surveys for the new railway line. The garden remains in its unaltered configuration. The grounds, which were considered by early visitors to be far superior to the house, currently provide little evidence of the landscaped setting intended and created by the Macquaries (National Trust, 2009, 8).
In 1995 the Rumsey Rose Garden was officially opened, on the site of the former Bowling Greens and before that of the Convict Lumber Yard near Pitt Row (later Pitt Street) and the Macquarie Street gatehouse. The gardens are named in honour of the late Heather and Roy Rumsey, nursery proprietors of Dural who donated two of every species (& cultivar) of 'heritage rose' (Rosa spp. & cv.s) they had stockpiled in their nursery for more than 45 years. The result was more than 500 heritage rose varieties/cultivars and species. In 2008 a new drip irrigation system was added to the garden (Howlett, 2009).
The Parramatta Park Trust Act was passed in 2002, establishing the Parramatta Park Trust as an independent Government Authority (formerly part of NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service's Regional Park network).
Cricket has been played at the Old King's Oval from 1883 to the present day. Cricket was played on the nearby Cumberland (Parramatta) Oval from 1868 until its closure. The sport of cricket has been played within Parramatta Park as an integral part of its history as a public park and contributes to that significance. The current use is a continuation of historic uses here since the public movement for recreation space achieved the release of Government Domain lands for a racecourse in the 1840s and then the creation of Parramatta Park in 1857. (Parramatta District Cricket Club, 2006).
The success of the blockbuster exhibition 'Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries' in 2014 has highlighted the potential of the property to be a centre for exciting community events in the region, bringing large volumes of visitors. In July 2015 a 'Love Desire & Riches' exhibition and public program of events was launched. In 2016 Miss Fisher will make a return ot the property while other successful events include monthly ghost tours, the Parramatta Lecture Series and family celebrations at Christmas and on Australia Day (NTA, 2015, 5).
In September 2015 the State government announced that Pirtek Stadium (Parramatta) will be the first of Sydney's stadia network to be upgraded, to 30000 seats. Eels to move home for 2 years; Wanderers looking for temporary home. Over $1b to be spent here over next decade (Parramatta Advertiser, Deborah Fitzgerald, 9/9/15, 5).
In October 2015 the State government have short-listed former Parramatta Golf Course and Riverside (fmr. David Jones Car Park) as potential sites for new Powerhouse Museum. A business case will be developed on each site's viability and cost and community views will be canvassed before selection made. The preferred side expected should be announced mid-2016 (Wn.Syd.Business Access, 10/2015, 12).