Parramatta Road

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Parramatta Road
New South Wales
Parramatta Road near University of Sydney.jpg
Parramatta Road, near its eastern end
General information
Type Road
Opened 1811
Route number(s)
route number
Major junctions
East end Broadway (A34), Chippendale, Sydney
West end Church Street, Granville, Sydney
Major suburbs Ultimo, Chippendale, Glebe, Camperdown
Parramatta Road looking west at Burwood, near Rosebank College, during peak hour
Parramatta road at Leichhardt

Parramatta Road is the major historical east-west artery of metropolitan Sydney, Australia, connecting the Sydney CBD with Parramatta. It is the easternmost part of the Great Western Highway. Much of its traffic has been diverted to modern expressways such as the M4 and the City West Link Road. It passes many other major roads in Sydney such as the Hume Highway, Woodville Road, Centenary Drive and Old Canterbury Road.

Parramatta Road has rarely been considered beautiful, with one local mayor describing it as a "varicose vein". However it has never been considered unimportant. One commentator[who?] has said: "Every chapter of Sydney's history has been written on Parramatta Road".

It begins in the east as a continuation of George Street and Broadway (Broadway becomes Parramatta Road just west of the intersection with City Road), and skirts the southern contours of Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River to Parramatta.


Parramatta Road in the 1930s looking east across Iron Cove Creek towards Ashfield. Photo courtesy State Library of NSW

Parramatta was settled by Europeans in the same year (1788) as Sydney. The Parramatta River was used as navigation between them.

The early track was poorly built and poorly maintained. In 1794, the governor reported that he had caused a very good road to be made, but there is no evidence that any bridges were built over the streams. On 9 June 1805, the Sydney Gazette reported that the road was impassable as the result of heavy rain. Attempts to improve the road continued over the years. Eventually, Governor Macquarie called tenders for the repair of the road raised a 3 shilling per gallon levy on spirits and levied a toll to pay for the work. The road was to be 10 metres wide. This turnpike road was opened on 10 April 1811. The toll barriers were at the present Railway Square and at Becket's Creek (near Parramatta). Heavy rain again nearly destroyed this road, so in 1817 it was announced that all tree-stumps would be removed and the road paved with stone which would be covered with earth and gravel. This improvement was announced as finished on 15 January 1815. In 1815 the "profit" from the Sydney toll reached £465. The growth of Sydney caused the toll barrier to be moved to Grose Farm (present University of Sydney) in April 1836. In 1839 it was moved further west to Annandale.

In 1814, a stage cart service was established along Parramatta Road. Sydney's oldest road and Australia's first intercity highway, fares were 10 shillings for passengers and 3 pence for letters. The colony's first stage coach (valued at £300) was imported in 1821 but did not begin regular service until 1823. The stage left the city at 7am, arrived in Parramatta at 9:30am and left Parramatta for the return journey at 4pm. Inside passengers were charged 6 shillings. Hazards on the road included aborigines and bushrangers. Hotels and settlements sprang up along the road.

In 1851, Parramatta Road was the scene of heavy traffic as a procession of drays, other vehicles and pedestrians made their way westward to the goldfields of Bathurst. The importance of the road declined with the advent of the railway in 1855.

In the 1800s, the completion of several necessary extensions to the road was heavily reliant on the result of a sale between the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Australia's first religious congregation, and the Government. The Burwood-Ashfield section of the road was previously a part of the Rosebank Estate (today known as Rosebank College), which at that time was home to the most prestigious boarding school in New South Wales. They agreed and sold the land to allow construction. The campus of the historic heritage-listed private school is now located adjactent to the road.

A carriage marked "Ashfield-Burwood" trundles down Parramatta Road in the early 1870s, with the University of Sydney in the background.

In 1883, a steam tram line opened to Annandale along Parramatta Road, and was extended to Short Street, Leichhardt via Norton Street in 1884. This line was electrified in 1901. Thereafter, the Sydney Municipal Council set about widening the major routes into the city. The Sydney end of Parramatta Road (which lies in a cutting) was widened and improved in 1910-1911.

The 20th century also saw the advent of motorised traffic on the road, and in the 1920s, the surface of the road was sealed and trams were removed from the road.

Today, over 3 million commuters every year drive Parramatta Road. The road is the hub of Sydney's motor dealership industry - with 67% of the adjacent land use devoted to motor retailing and services.

In 2012 it was announced that the road would be widened and lowered below street level in a "slot" as part of the WestConnex highway proposal of the NSW Government.


The highway forms the boundaries of various suburbs along the way and ends at the junction of Church Street, Parramatta, where the Great Western Highway briefly turns to the north. Parramatta Road forms the southern boundary of the following suburbs:

Parramatta Road forms the northern boundary of the following suburbs:

West of Concord and Burwood, Parramatta Road passes through Strathfield, Homebush, Auburn and Granville before reaching Parramatta.

See also[edit]

Portal icon Australian Roads portal

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°52′05″S 151°05′57″E / 33.86814°S 151.09909°E / -33.86814; 151.09909