Entrance to Female Factory, Parramatta showing stone bridge
State Library NSW, Government Printing Office 1 – 13815

Australia’s heritage is under threat from developers. Again. This time it is Parramatta, in western Sydney that is under threat. More specifically the Fleet Street Heritage Precinct.

The area was originally occupied by aborigines, and later became the place of Australia’s oldest female convict site, the Parramatta Female Factory which was built between 1818-1821, and later again was converted into a lunatic asylum. This area has recently been rezoned to allow thousands of apartments to be built.

As you can imagine there has been widespread condemnation against this from not only locals and local groups groups, but also those wishing to preserve our heritage.

A portion of what is written on the campaign website says the following

“In 1857, a government proclamation was made by the first NSW Parliament to set aside at least 200 acres “for the health and well-being for the people of Parramatta.”

Much of the land now operates as Cumberland Mental Health Hospital. Adjoining the World Heritage listed Parramatta Park, the precinct contains an extraordinary cultural legacy that showcase some of Australia’s most wonderful buildings designed by government architect Francis Greenway and Walter Liberty Vernon.

A 30-hectare oasis, the precinct cradles Australia’s largest and most intact ‘Female Factory’, the first Roman Catholic Orphanage and the infamous Parra Girls home. In total about 40,000 women and children were institutionalized within these walls. We call this precious precinct the Fleet Street Heritage Precinct. Containing Australia’s ‘Female Factory’, 5,000 convict women were sent from the British Isles. These women were the mothers of our colonial colony.

Disturbingly, the State Government is proposing to parcel up and sell-off 20-hectares of this public land to developers. While the government is promising to retain some of the heritage buildings, more than 50% of the buildings will be demolished with the government arguing that many of the significant buildings no longer have sufficient merit. In turn this enables the land to be redeveloped into a high-rise urban precinct which includes plans for 3,000+ high density residential units along with commercial and retail facilities.”

Actor and activist, Shane Withington has taken this cause to heart, and is asking for your support in helping save this important part of Australia’s heritage.

Please do your bit to help out by voicing your objection to the sale by sending an email. Details here: https://saveaustraliasheritage.good.do/savefleetstreetheritageprecinct/SaveAustraliasHeritage/

Support the cause by donating to the GoFundMe campaign:

Follow the Save Parramatta Female Factory and Precinct Facebook page:

Female penitentiary or factory, Parramatta, 1826?, [Augustus Earle]
National Library of Australia,:ref: nla.obj-134500491