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Parramatta's history is as old as Sydney's with the suburb the location of the first inland settlement in 1788. Originally named Rose Hill, these fertile lands located on the banks of the Parramatta River were gazetted as a food production area with convict worked farms set up to feed the colony within the first year of white settlement in Australia. Renamed by Governor Phillip in 1791, Parramatta takes its name from an Aboriginal word from the Dharug language which means 'a place where eels lie down'. The eel was adopted as the town's symbol which can be seen reflected in the town emblem and the name given their Rugby League club - the Parramatta Eels.
Agricultural pursuits would prove very successful in Parramatta with James Ruse's Experiment Farm producing the countries first viable wheat crops and Elizabeth Farm would be one of the places John McCarthur would begin his sheep breeding programs, establishing the wool industry in Australia. Having been used for the state's first female convict settlement in the 1820s, the suburb was also used to house several state institutions for women and girls including the notorious Parramatta Industrial School for Females which opened in the late 1800s. Taken to this school were girls who were abandoned or orphaned who were deemed corrupted and had the potential for wayward behaviour as well as those girls who were deemed fit for reform. Known for their cruelty, the Parramatta Girls Home would house many girls from the Aboriginal stolen generations until its official closure in 1974. The buildings were subsequently bought by the Department of Corrective Services in the 1980s and today house the Norma Parker Detention Centre for Women.
By the late 18th Century more people lived in Parramatta than in Sydney city, with the river serving as a simple means of transport between the two towns. A dirt track was cleared between Sydney and Parramatta in 1797, linking the inner Sydney suburbs to the two primary trading towns at the time. With the introduction of the motor car in the 1900s Parramatta to Sydney city became one of the primary transport routes of Sydney. Today Parramatta road still follows this same route from the city centre through the inner western suburbs towards Parramatta. As one of Sydney's first towns, it seems fitting that Parramatta has enjoyed a similar growth to Sydney city and with a thriving CBD second only to Sydney, significant residential areas and the largest Westfield shopping centres in Australia setting up Parramatta as one of Sydney's most important suburbs.