When I checked into the motel I felt like it was kind of familiar. Like I’d been here before. The buildings were shaped like barns and laid out around a paved courtyard. I guessed this was a nod to the Rose Hill racecourse that was just on the other side of the busy highway.
It was a Thursday night and the air was humid, thick with the smell of the city, petrol fumes, burning rubber, hot concrete. The sounds of traffic were blocked out when I shut down the door of the motel room and breathed in the airconditioned coolness. My dress was stuck to my back and the first thing I wanted to do was have a cool shower before dinner.
After dinner I went for a stroll around Parramatta. The evening was still humid but not as stifling as the afternoon heat.
Most of the suburb is an unappealing mix of apartment buildings, old houses and light industrial development. Then I stumbled across some real gems that had somehow survived the transformation of the landscape from a beautiful valley, to an early colonial town to what I found today. Despite the changes, Parramatta River still flows through the middle of the valley and there are glimpses of the original bushland along the banks.
The suburb of Rose Hill was the first European township inland from Sydney Cove. The name of Parramatta was later taken for the district, a corruption of the original name for the area Burramattagal by the traditional custodians of the land. Small farms were carved out of the bush.
The buildings in the photos were on land granted to Captain John Macarthur, later famous for starting the Australian wool industry with his wife, Elizabeth. They were built in the early 1800s and gradually over the next 200 years turned into suburbia.
From the rise in front of the cottage it is still possible to look down toward the Parramatta River despite these changes but I can see change is still going on. The older houses are gradually disappearing in favour of more and more apartment buildings. Most of the people in the area are from India or Middle Eastern countries. Change continues – I wonder what it will look like in another 100 years.