Seven Spots Where You Can Get Your Arts and Culture Fix in Parramatta
See large-scale sculptures, enjoy dinner and a show, or upskill your craft.
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Dotted with galleries, theatre and places of Indigenous cultural significance, Parramatta is a must-visit city for culture vultures. If you've got a free day up your sleeve, journey deep into local history on a walking tour, then see an experimental exhibition or a brilliant new play.
Whatever your thing is, you're bound to find it in Parramatta. If you're travelling from the Sydney CBD, begin your adventure with a relaxing one-hour ferry ride up the Parramatta River from Circular Quay, or by hopping on a train at Central. Then, after your day of arty adventures, stick around for a cocktail or top-notch feed.
WARAMI MITTIGAR TOUR
Parramatta takes its name from the traditional owners of the land, the Darug people. They called the area burramatta, which means 'place of eels'. And you can find out why — and learn more about Darug history — on a Warami Mittigar Tour. This free, two-hour adventure takes you along the river and through Parramatta Park in the company of a local Aboriginal custodian. Expect to learn about connections to Country, medicinal plants, hunting strategies and many other aspects of Darug culture. The tour leaves from PHIVE once a month at 11am. Be sure to book online in advance.
PARRAMATTA ARTIST STUDIOS
Since opening in 2006, the Parramatta Artists' Studios has been a hub of creativity. The collective supports a range of artists across different art forms, from sculpture and sketching to filmmaking, screenwriting and video game design, and helps them further their craft through the likes of public art commissions, performance works and digital programs. Though PAS doesn't have a set exhibition space, budding artists can attend talks, workshops and pop-up exhibits across Parramatta. Keep up with PAS and find out more about their programs here.
Every year, Riverside Theatres attracts more than 180,000 guests to 750-plus shows. The annual program includes everything from contemporary dance and live bands to operas and musicals, and covers both local and national touring productions. Conveniently located in the Church Street precinct, the venue is a stone's throw away from numerous lively restaurants and bars, so there's no better spot for dinner and a show. Check out upcoming events and book tickets here.
PARRAMATTA SQUARE PRECINCT
The heart of the city is the Parramatta Square Precinct. Not only can you take your pick of diverse eateries and restaurants, but you can also take in art installations between bites, both in the square and at the new community and cultural hub, PHIVE. As you wander through the square, take a minute to admire the two large-scale sculptures that reflect the history of the area: Place of the Eels by Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro and Where Eels Lie Down by Reko Rennie. For more art, explore PHIVE for animated projections and vibrant murals, or the lobbies of 4, 6 and 8 Parramatta Square for artworks by renowned artists such as Michael Johnson, Chris Kenyon and Yaritji Young.
ARTS AND CULTURAL EXCHANGE
Since 1984, the Arts and Cultural Exchange has worked with communities all over western Sydney on creative projects. The initiative focuses on youth, migrants, refugees, First Nations people and people with disability. On the program, you'll find all sorts of happenings, from training courses to book clubs and dance performances. Students, artists, freelancers, non-profits and businesses are also welcome to rent the facilities and equipment, which include a green-screen room, audio-recording studio and event space.
SYDNEY OLYMPIC PARK
Sydney Olympic Park isn't just about pools, running tracks and tennis courts. There are more than 50 public artworks to explore — each specifically commissioned for the site. In Stockroute Park, you'll find Discobolus by Robert Owen. Set within a grove of eucalyptus trees and five-column drums, you'll see this large disc set in the ground. The work is an homage to the classic Greek sculpture, Discobolus by Myron, with a contemporary twist. At the northern end of Olympic Boulevard, look out for Osmosis by Ari Purhonen — a light sculpture that interacts with water, creating an ever-changing spectrum of colours. And this is just the start of your arty adventures.
PARRAMATTA CLAY AND ARTS
Create art, instead of just enjoying it, at Parramatta Clay and Arts. If you're not ready to commit to a course, test the waters with a Friday night or weekend workshop. Unwind after a hectic work week with two to three hours of clay-making, after which you'll be able to go home with a work of your own, like a Christmas tealight, Japanese bowl or Hawaiian Tiki jar. Should that whet your appetite, you can then sign up for a four to eight-week term class or become a member, which gives you independent studio access.
To discover more cultural hotspots in and around Parramatta, head to the website.
Top Image: Destination NSW.
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