Tour to follow Arthur Phillip's footsteps

Follow the footsteps of the colony’s founding father by taking a Governor Arthur Phillip walking tour on August 31.

Ranger Uday with a scythe much like the one Arthur Phillip's expedition party would have used when they walked on the banks of the Parramatta River for the first time. Picture: Gene Ramirez.

Ranger Uday with a scythe much like the one Arthur Phillip's expedition party would have used when they walked on the banks of the Parramatta River for the first time. Picture: Gene Ramirez.

To commemorate the bicentenary of the first governor of New South Wales’ death in 1814, the Parramatta Park & Western Sydney Parklands Trusts will offer guided tours to trace the same path Phillip’s expedition party took from the northern end of Parramatta Park through what is now the Cumberland Hospital site to Pirtek Stadium.

Cultural officer for Parramatta Park Stephen Thompson said the tour would trace Phillips’ first journey upriver from Sydney Cove on April 24, 1788, when he searched for arable land to grow crops to feed the fledgling colony.

Admiral Arthur Phillip. Source: National Portrait Gallery collection in London.

Admiral Arthur Phillip. Source: National Portrait Gallery collection in London.

‘‘Parramatta itself is a pivotal point in the history of modern Australia,’’ Mr Thompson said.

The current location of Parramatta Park, that’s where they found that the brackish waters from Port Jackson finished in the Parramatta River, so that was the point between the sea and the river where they could establish a farm using fresh water for irrigation. - Stephen Thompson, Parramatta Park Trust.

‘‘The current location of Parramatta Park, that’s where they found that the brackish waters from Port Jackson finished in the Parramatta River, so that was the point between the sea and the river where they could establish a farm using fresh water for irrigation.’’

A government maize farm was eventually established next to where Old Government House still stands today.

The journey was made after searches of other Sydney foreshores, for example at Mosman, Cremorne and Rose Bay, revealed only rocky ravines and inhospitable land.

Along the trail, ranger Uday Mangalvedhekar will point out some of the remnant species dotted along the landscape that the early explorers would have spied along their way, including the native ducks they roasted for their dinner, the heathland they cut through with their sycthes and the stately forest gums.

‘‘Parramatta Park itself is a remnant of Australian history, where the fortunes of the colony swung in the balance. Without the government farm, which was basically run by convict labour, Sydney Cove would have been a ghost colony... Like other early colonies, near Darwin and at Moreton Bay near Brisbane, which failed - they’re just remnants in the bush now.

Bookings essential: parrapark.com.au

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