The past, present, and future of Sydney’s WEST is on display in the small suburb of Harris Park in the City of Parramatta sitting on the traditional land of the Burramattagal clan of the Dharug people. With buildings dating back to the eighteenth century to the brand-new light rail, this area has evolved its streetscapes and also taken on the cultural vibrancy of the local community.
Harris Park is a terrific example of the Australian migration story with many different people groups calling the area home. Affectionately known as “Little India” Harris Park is home to over 40 Indian small businesses reflective of a population where over 40 per cent are of Indian background. However, a look at the area’s history reveals even more cultural diversity evolving throughout the centuries.
Grab a coffee from 5 Loaves Café on Alice Street. This lovely café makes their own Lebanese pizzas and pastries, perfect if you’re a little bit peckish.
The first stop of the day is just up the road at Elizabeth Farm, one of Australia’s oldest homes and now a Sydney Living Museum. This homestead was built in 1793 for John and Elizabeth Macarthur who were the pioneers of the Australian wool industry. The home is a re-created display of the home, complete with 1830s garden visitors can access all areas in the museum including the pantries, kitchens, and bedrooms.
Beautifully preserved, this museum contains an incredible collection of information about Australia’s European history, as well as the impact of settlement on the Indigenous population.
One highlight from the museum is the Healing land, remembering Country an artwork created by indigenous artist Tony Albert. The artwork is a wooden ‘greenhouse nursery’ and features woven baskets created by Indigenous artists.
This artwork is described as a ‘memory exchange’ encouraging intergenerational healing at a place of trauma to Aboriginal people.
After you’ve explored the museum, head towards Wigram Street. As you approach, you’ll notice the restored cottages that line the streets, many which are now Indian restaurants. Be sure to arrive with an empty stomach as you’ll need to try many of the street foods and South Indian delicacies on offer.
We recommend starting with a vegetarian meal at Chatkazz. Established in 2013 they specialise in ‘chat’ which is Indian Street food. Arrive early enough for breakfast, or an early lunch.
Next, you’ll need to save room for falooda and paan which are popular at Jaipur Sweets around the corner on Marion Street.
Another street dessert food to try is Kulfi. This is a traditional frozen dairy dessert similar but creamier than ice cream. We loved the almond, pistachio and cashew flavour from Rocket Kulfi.
Along Wigram Street you’ll also find other eat-in Indian Restaurants. Not Just Curries is one restaurant that prides itself on the fresh and authentic techniques used for each dish. Their signature chicken tikka is served sizzling on a hot plate and is made fresh for every single order. You can simply taste the authenticity!
Other popular restaurants include Dosa Hut, Ginger, and Hyderabad House. Of course, with so many eating options along this street, Harris Park is definitely worth returning to time and time again – always with an empty stomach.
Finally, to fight off a food coma, head walk down Harris Street towards Parramatta River. Here you’ll find the Queen’s Wharf Reserve and Robin Thomas Reserve. This is a great place for an afternoon picnic, so make sure you have loaded up on Indian sweets and SweetLand Patisserie’s baklava to enjoy here.
From the river, you’ll see the narrative of Parramatta as we know it today. From references to the early European settlement and old buildings, to brand new apartments and skyscrapers, we love that Harris Park tells a story of change and community.
It’s likely that when you return, the area will look a little bit different to when you last visited. That’s Western Sydney!