UrbanGrowth NSW opens up Fleet Street heritage precinct to the public

Digging deep: Year 4 pupil Hannah Bunby was the envy of her friends after she went down into archaeological pits at the Fleet Street heritage precinct last Friday.

Digging deep: Year 4 pupil Hannah Bunby was the envy of her friends after she went down into archaeological pits at the Fleet Street heritage precinct last Friday.

A budding archaeologist was unearthed at North Parramatta’s Fleet Street precinct last week.

Found: Old toothbrushes and combs are among artefacts found at the former Roman Catholic orphanage so far. Go to parramattasun.com.au to see more artefacts.

Found: Old toothbrushes and combs are among artefacts found at the former Roman Catholic orphanage so far. Go to parramattasun.com.au to see more artefacts.

Hannah Bunby, 9, had a day she’ll never forget at the heritage precinct, where she was given a tour of archaeological digs happening at the site as part of National Archaeology Week.

The visit was organised by UrbanGrowth NSW after staff heard about Hannah, who has systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, an aggressive form of arthritis that attacks her system. She spends a day each month at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead or Sydney Adventist Hospital to receive treatment.

Meet and greet: Hannah had lots of questions for archaeologists last Friday. "She was over the moon when she found out where she was going," her mum Ruth said.

Meet and greet: Hannah had lots of questions for archaeologists last Friday. "She was over the moon when she found out where she was going," her mum Ruth said.

“She gets sick more than the other kids and gets tired very easily,” mum Ruth said.

“Despite the extra challenges, she works so hard to keep up at school. Hannah loves history and hearing stories about the past so it was nice for her to have that special motivation.”

Hannah also got to inspect artefacts uncovered at the site and use the tools.

“The day was everything she thought it would be and more,” Mrs Bunby said.

“It was great for her to see archaeologists in action. She had previously been told that becoming a history teacher was the only career option. But hearing that archaeolgists will be needed in the future has inspired her to continue pursuing her goal.”

More than 2000 artefacts have been found at the precinct, including abundant evidence of Aboriginal occupation prior to and during the early stages of European settlement in Parramatta.

European relics have also been discovered at the Parramatta Female Factory and under the floorboards of Roman Catholic Orphan School’s north wing, which later became the Parramatta Industrial School for Girls.

Hannah was joined by students from Arthur Phillip and Holroyd high schools at a schools open day last Friday. A public open day was held the next day, which UrbanGrowth NSW Parramatta North project leader Donna Savage hailed as a success.

More than 250 people attended in addition to the 100 students, health department staff and Parramatta Female Factory Friends members who were given a sneak preview a day earlier.

“Apart from seeing firsthand the heritage repairs and inspecting some of the artefacts uncovered by archaeologists, the public also welcomed the opportunity to speak directly to our team members about the transformation program,” Ms Savage said. “This project is tackling the challenge of breathing new life into a place with an old soul in a way that is sensitive and respectful to the heritage of the site but also meets 21st century needs.”

Stage one of Urban Growth NSW’s plans to transform North Parramatta are on public exhibition at Parramatta Council. Submissions close June 13.

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