Cruising Sydney : Parramatta River

rivercatBeing in Sydney for a stint, while we wait for the motor upgrade on our cruiser we have been forced to take advantage of public transport. Now, we are both retired and had arranged for the local ‘Opal’ transport cards. As pensioners and seniors we have our own class of card and what a gem these ‘Opal’ cards are… And what a wonderful fraternity of senior concessions NSW has, this specifically in the Sydney region for golden oldies to enjoy. Wake up Queensland… the Go-card’s barely cut it in comparison. Both these cards, as within other States, have been designed to facilitate the use of public transport with ‘tap on, tap off’ technology and I LOVE our NSW ‘Opal’ Cards.

As both economic and convenient I would recommend the Opal cards highly when using suburban trains, local busses and The Sydney Ferries on the pubic transport network around Sydney. The network is efficient and extensive, as Sydney is one of those places that you truly can travel around conveniently without the use of a car. The local network extends south, down into the ‘Gong, west into those mighty Blue Mountains and north as far as Newcastle. For the retiree it has a cost cap of $2.50 per day to travel on any or all of the public transport modes within a 24 hour period ie… busses, trains and ferries.

Parramatta RTaking advantage of this arrangement we have toured via ferry from Circular Quay, up into the harbour and on up the Parramatta River to the cradle city of Sydney, Parramatta. I loved the 3hr return cruise on the public ferries, enjoying our short visit to Parramatta, this an improvement on the 6-8hr trip it was 200 yrs ago. We lamented the short sightedness of the Parramatta Council and developers in allowing such incursive development in the blocks of units along the reaches and banks of the river and around those wonderful old traditional eel ponds. What were they thinking? What an opportunity missed for open public spaces and public attractions that could draw a steady flow of sightseers and tourism into their city and the beautiful Parramatta Paddle ferryParklands.

Parramatta was once the centre of cultured domesticity for Sydney Town, while the old original settlement Sydney Cove was viewed in colonial times more as a rough seaport, a centre for the convict and emancipists and the place where the un-genteel engaged in commerce. This of course was the opinion of the ‘would be if could be’ elite… those who would find their birth right amongst the corruption, of men who were members and forerunners in the NSW Marine Corps. These anarchists and elitists largely went on to become the infamous Rum Corps. The likes of the Johnston and Macarthur along with others who managed to negotiate, to grant and acquire for themselves large tracts of land and a solid workforce of convicts to gain the notoriety and wealthy they undeservedly aspired to.

The early history of the young penal colony is poorly represented in our Education system unfortunately, and great will be day when our kids are taught of our greatest Governors, leaders and the Fathers of our nation. Those such as Pemulwuy & Windradyne (leaders of the tribes), Phillip and Macquarie (Governors of the early penal colony). Men who led young Australia in the raw colonial times during the years that were the birth of our nation, this with nobility, dignity and natural justice.

Parramatta however does offer a great day trip via ferry, up to the reaches of the river. There you can visit some of the oldest estates of the Rum Corp era and beyond. Elizabeth Farm and Hambledon House is one of these delights along with the old Government House. They are now staffed mostly by volunteers but they can easily step you back into a bygone era of colonial life, at least that experienced by the elitists of the era.

It is a wonderful experience to see the eel ponds also, which fed both the natives and colonials in such difficult times of famine. It is a insight to these times that I would highly recommend.

Travel well and enjoy.

Jan is an author and traveller. You can follow her journey around Australia by clicking the “follow” button at the top. Or read more about her travels both here on her blog or in e-book Discovering Australia & Her Lore.

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If your interested in Australian Lore, available are novels of adventure and life, in both e-book and print which will take you on a contemporary journey into this ancient land and its people.

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