The first colonial landing in Parramatta was near this very location.
The first settlers encountered the Indigenous population but decided to take over the land and make it their own. In those days the laws had it that this land and all of Australia was considered ‘terra nullius’ [belonging to no-one] so in the eyes of the British colonists they could do use any action to take and keep this land. The local Indigenous population paid the price.
There has been a wharf at Parramatta since British settlement was established. The wharf is located next to the Queens’ Wharf Reserve and the Gasworks Bridge, which was close to the site of where Governor Phillip and a small number of marines arrived in 1788 to establish a second settlement in Parramatta. The first steam ferry to operate between Sydney and Parramatta, named Surprise, began service on Thursday 2 June 1831.
The original wharf was built by convicts from gum tree logs and reconstructed in sandstone in 1835. Paddle steamers would come up the river with their goods and passengers from Sydney.
From October 1883 a steam tramway connected the wharf at Redbank, near to where the Duck and Parramatta Rivers meet, with the town extending along George Street to the Parramatta Park Gates.
This river was a ‘highway’ between Sydney and Parramatta carrying hundreds of cargo ships and boatloads of tourists every day. If this was like Parramatta Road on water, what sorts of people would have been next to you on the shore and what sorts of businesses would have been on the waterside to your left and right?