North Parramatta Heritage Precinct
Fleet Street North Parramatta 2150


City of Parramatta
(02) 9806 5050

The 2019 Parramatta Foundation Festival takes place from Thursday 31 October to Sunday 3rd November 2019.  Celebrating and appreciating our rich cultural heritage, there are events over 3 days in 10 locations important to Parramatta’s past.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday the festival program includes the huge Mrs Macquarie’s Picnic in Parramatta Park, graveyard tours, a garden party at Brislington House medical museum, stoushes about Macarthur over dinner at Hambledon Cottage, a Halloween ghost tour of Old Government House, an intriguing experience at Elizabeth Farm … and twilight walking tours with local Aboriginal guides to learn about the deeper and older foundations of Burramatta.

On Sunday 3rd November the festival culminates with a huge family day at the North Parramatta Heritage precinct with heritage tours, chats with local historians, ‘rare trades’ demonstrations, arts, crafts and skills workshops, live music, market stalls, great food, native animals and biologists, horse and cart rides and activities for everyone.  Learn about things. Learn to do things! Have fun.

Thursday, 31st October

Halloween Ghost Tour 

The Governors and their households left Parramatta in 1855, but their presence still haunts Old Government House... At night you are invited to come and explore this 214 year old Georgian mansion by candlelight. Revisit the scene of a tragic accident and witness places within the house where psychics, guides and visitors have experienced ghostly encounters. Reflect on your own experiences over supper, in this splendid vice-regal residence. Supper includes - juice, tea, coffee, sandwiches, scones, cakes and slices.

Where: Old Government House, Pitt Street Entrance, Parramatta Park 2150
When: 7:30 pm 
Cost: $35 - Purchase tickets via the Friends of Government House website

Presented by Friends of Old Government House and Experiment Farm Cottage


Friday, 1st November

John Macarthur- Villian or Visionary?

John Macarthur is remembered by most people for laying the foundations of the great Australian wool industry – but did he?! In fact he spent so much time away in England and Europe facing a court martial and as a witness to another, his practical achievements owe a very great deal to the persistence and loyalty of his wife and sons. But was he the only person to develop the wool industry?

Some saw Macarthur as scheming and devious with disdain for any official who dared to thwart his ambitions, while others saw him as a brilliant publicist and organiser who did much to focus and promote attention to the potential of the colony.

Join his wife, Elizabeth Macarthur, his son, Edward Macarthur, his girl’s governess, Penelope Lucas, his architect, Henry Kitchen, a rival wool farmer, Rev. Samuel Marsden and Mary the Maid, as they present a scene of lively intrigue between John Macarthur’s Family, Friends and Foes.

Hambledon Cottage was built by John Macarthur in 1824 on the grounds of his Elizabeth Farm Estate as additional accommodation for family and friends. This elegant cottage is built of sandstock brick in the Colonial Georgian style and boasts a veranda enclosed by French doors and a beautiful, vaulted ceiling. It is presented to display mid-1800s lifestyle.

Where: Hambledon Cottage, Gregory Place Parramatta 2150
When: 7.30 pm - 10:00 pm 
Cost: $30 includes supper - Purchase tickets by emailing the Parramatta Historical Society or call Ken 0402 045 312

Presented by the Parramatta & District Historical Society


Warami Mittigar Aboriginal Twilight Cultural Walk with Darug Elders

The Darug people are Parramatta’s first people and the traditional custodians of this land. Parramatta’s name comes from their word “Burramatta, meaning “the place of eels”.

This easy walk, along the river and in beautiful Parramatta Park, is a wonderful opportunity to spend time on country with an Aboriginal traditional custodian, learning about connections to land, plant uses, tools, hunting and other aspects of local culture. This tour is aimed at adults and families with primary school children, aged 7 years over. The route is partly along unfenced waterways and shared pathways. Carers must supervise any younger children in their care, who must be able to keep up with the pace of the group.

The activity will not be cancelled in case of wet or otherwise adverse weather. Instead, it will become an interactive cultural presentation at the Heritage Centre, where you meet. Should the weather improve, a shorter walk will take place. Bookings are essential. Please arrive 15 minutes prior to start time, for registration. Wear comfortable shoes. Bring water, snack and a hat.

Where: Parramatta Heritage and Visitor Information Centre, 346A Church Street Parramatta 2150
When: 5.30 pm - 7.30 pm 
Cost: $5 - Purchase tickets via Eventbrite website.

Presented by the City of Parramatta Heritage and Visitor Information Centre.


Saturday, 2nd November

Meet the Ancestors - Guided Tour of Parramatta's Cemeteries

Meet The Ancestors – a guided tour of Parramatta’s four cemeteries with true stories of their ‘residents’. Tours are led by popular historian and past-Parramatta expert, Judith Dunn OAM.

Visiting May’s Hill, St John’s, All Saints and St Patrick’s cemeteries and hear about the women and men, convicts and entrepreneurs, aboriginal and colonials, heroes and villains, artists, politicians and working people who made Parramatta the city is today.

The cemetery is the resting place of many of Australia’s founding colonists, including 17 First Fleeters with memorials and many more in unmarked graves, pioneers, statesmen, clergymen, clerks, soldiers, and convicts.

Judith Dunn OAM is the author of the Parramatta Cemeteries book series, the tour includes amazing tales of the Old Parramattans at their gravesides. We encourage descendants attending the tour to offer a little "potted history" of their ancestor/s as we get to their graves. Don't be shy! 

Where: May’s Hill, St John’s, All Saints and St Patrick’s graveyards
When: 9.00 am - 11.00 am & 2.00 pm - 4.00 pm 
Cost: $5 - Purchase tickets via the Eventbrite website

Presented by Friends of the Parramatta Cemeteries


Elizabeth Farm: Now Museum - Now You Don't

A very different museum experience, "Now Museum, Now You Don't" explores themes such as the Macarthur family and the Darug people - but also focuses on you, the participants. It allows you and your friends to engage, react and respond to the museum in creative, sometimes surprising ways. It is energetic rather than sedate, outward rather than inward giving you a truly reflective VIP experience you won’t find anywhere else. Light refreshments included.

Licensed event suitable for ages 18+ Please Elizabeth Farm has uneven surfaces and sturdy footwear is required. Wheelchair access throughout the property except for the Colonial Kitchen and the Cellar.

Where: 70 Alice St Rosehill 2142
When: 6.30 pm - 9.00 pm
Cost: $40 General Admission, $35 Concession, $30 SLM Members. Purchase tickets via the Sydney Living Museum website

Presented by Sydney Living Museums 


Book Launch: "Then and There Lying Dead" by Judith Dunn

A garden launch with morning tea and a short talk by Judith Dunn. Judith Dunn's latest book is "Then and There Lying Dead - Murders, inquests, accidents, and gossip in Sydney’s Greater West" - stories taken from early newspapers. 

Judith Dunn is a writer, raconteur and renowned Parramatta cemetery tour guide who has written eight books on Australian history and is the recipient of a gold medal in Women of Australia Awards, the Australian Bi-Centenary Medal, the NSW State Government Award for Services to History and Heritage. 2011 Judith was awarded an OAM for services to History and Heritage.  

Where: Hambledon Cottage, Gregory Place, Parramatta 2150
When: 11.30 am - 12.30 pm
Cost: Free

Presented by the Parramatta & District Historical Society.


World Heritage Wonders - Parramatta Park Tour & Lunch

This comprehensive walking tour of a World Heritage site includes entry and guided tours of elegant Old Government House and the historically significant Dairy Cottage, lunch and a guided tour of Parramatta Park.

Where: The Dairy Cottage, Byrnes Ave, Parramatta Park 2150
When: 10.45 am - 2.45 pm 
Cost: $45 includes lunch. Purchase tickets via the Eventbrite website

Presented by the City of Parramatta Heritage and Visitor Information Centre.


Mrs Macquarie's Picnic

Bring a hamper for this fun family event, in the spirit of picnics of the days of Mrs Macquarie. Let your children enjoy the Park’s new convict and heritage-themed playground, enjoy the dances of the local branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, or book a tour of the Macquarie’s historic Dairy Cottage. 

Normal admission fees apply to enter Old Government House. No bookings required. Please note: No dogs are allowed within the grounds of Old Government House. 

Where: Old Government House, Parramatta Park 2150
When: 11.00 am - 2.00 pm 
Cost: Free. Admission to Old Government House and Exhibition applies. 

Presented by National Trust (NSW), Parramatta Park Trust and the City of Parramatta. 


Sunday, 3rd November

Foundation Day 

Where: Fleet Street North Parramatta 2151
When: 11.00 am - 4.00 pm 
Cost: Free.


  • Walking tours with historians and ecologists
  • Books for sale – Parramatta history 
  • Horse and cart rides
  • Workshops, displays, activities and exhibits of heritage work-skills arts and crafts 
  • Learn or observe some dance, music, painting, pottery, spinning, weaving and woodworking skills
  • Flying Fox ecologists, paleontologist /geologist/ dinosaur expert
  • Delicious food from fine local vendors 
  • Performances  - acoustic music, folk music and more
  • Many things to see do, make and enjoy. Learn something and learn to do something!
  • ‘Spellbound Storytime’ and craft activities

Tours – Led by engaging experts, specialists, and enthusiasts:

  • Heritage Walk from CBD to North Parramatta heritage precinct with National Trust president Brian Powyer
  • Friends of the Female Factory - history and stories
  • Architecture and restoration of North Parramatta
  • The bat camp (flying foxes) nearby with s and wildlife ecologists
  • Visit Parramatta Gaol –for a guided tour with Deerubbin people. Book your spot via the Eventbrite website
  • Parramatta Men’s Shed Open Day
  • Friends of the Female Factory – site tour

Meet the Community - Sit down for a chat with interesting people:

  • Parramatta historians from the National Trust and Parramatta & District Historical Society
  • Judith Dunn discusses her earlier book: Colonial Ladies, Lovely, lively and Lamentably Loose about the crimes of convict women incarcerated in the Female Factory.  
  • Paleontologist Dr Paul Willis describes the literal foundations – the geological history under the ground of Parramatta – going back billions of years
  • Archeologists chat about the things we’ve left behind in North Parramatta 
  • Flying Fox and wildlife ecologists
  • Heritage architects 
  • ‘Rare trades’ artisans, artists and makers 
  • Lancer’s Museum military historians
  • Indigenous artists from Western Sydney

Heritage Trades displays, stores, and workshops:

  • Woodturning and carpentry 
  • Whip making and whip-cracking
  • Stonemasonry  
  • Pottery 
  • Bees and honey  
  • Heritage Printing press

Other Activities:

  • Horse and cart rides
  • Children's games
  • En plein air painting