To mark Foundation Day this year, City of Parramatta are presenting a mini-documentary series which explores the City’s heritage, past and present. Plus, they are also launching two brand new tours to help you discover Parramatta’s history and heritage in person.

Foundation Day marks the settlement of the Parramatta area by British colonists led by Governor Arthur Phillip on 2nd November 1788. City of Parramatta Council usually commemorates the day with a family friendly event at the North Parramatta Heritage Precinct. This year, however due to covid-19, the celebrations are going online.

Parramatta Foundations Mini-Documentary Series Foundation Day 2020


Mini Documentary Series

Launching at 7pm on Monday 2nd November with a Facebook Premiere, immerse yourself in Parramatta’s heritage with a 5 piece mini-documentary series, unearthing the City’s intriguing history through themes of food, public health and pandemics, legends, foundations, and buildings.

Popular filmmaker and comedian Dan Ilic, who grew up in Parramatta, presents four of the videos. His mother, Gwen Ilic, received Parramatta’s 2020 Australia Day Local Award for Senior Citizen of the Year.

1Deep Foundations In Deep Time – A 300 million year history

Discover the Cumberland Basin underneath Parramatta, from 300 million years ago to today.

Explore the deep foundations under Parramatta in the Cumberland Basin, stretching back millions of years from Australia’s split from Antarctica to flourishing life by the Parramatta River with flying foxes, wombats, and the ancestors of the Burramatagal people who settled soon after.

  • Featuring presenter Dan Ilic and bat specialist Sarah Curran.

From Darug eel traps to Experiment Farm and Eat Street today.

Get a taste of Parramatta’s pantry through the ages with Dan Ilic and Uncle Chris Tobin. From catching eels in the Parramatta River with a side of bush tucker, to the first crops planted by colonists at Experiment Farm and Old Government House, it’s Parramatta’s pantry like you’ve never seen it before. Plus take a walk through the streets of Parramatta today where delicious multicultural dishes can be found at every corner.

  • Featuring presenter Dan Ilic, Darug man Uncle Chris Tobin and Rosalind Mearns from National Trust (NSW).

Traditional Darug medicine, 1919 influenza, and Covid-19.

Dan Ilic delves into the past with a look at traditional plant medicines used by Darug people, explores archives of the 1919 influenza pandemic in Parramatta, and speaks to an expert from the Westmead Institute about Covid-19.

  • Featuring: Presenter Dan Ilic, Darug man Uncle Chris Tobin, Archivist Michelle Goodman and Professor Tania Sorrell.

Discover who’s buried beneath the grounds of Parramatta.

Meet some of the legends buried beneath Parramatta as Dan Ilic is joined by historian Judith Dunn in St John’s Anglican Church Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in Australia. From Henry Dodd who grew the first wheat crop and has Australia’s oldest grave stone, to pioneer woman, Elizabeth Peasley, who ran the Fox Under the Hills Inn, discover the stories of these dead set legends and why the cemetery is such a significant site.

  • Featuring presenter Dan Ilic, historian and author Judith Dunn OAM.

From orphanage to hospital and the Whitlam Institute. Produced by ABC Radio Sydney.

This fascinating piece traces the heritage-listed building’s history as it transformed from Orphan School in 1813 to the dynamic public policy institute it is today. Uncover more about the historic building and its stories in this fascinating mini-documentary, produced by ABC Radio Sydney’s Parramatta-based producer Dayvis Heyne, created specifically for the Parramatta Foundations series.

  • Featuring Leanne Smith – Director, Whitlam Institute, WSU

History & Heritage Tours – Explore Parramatta

Explore the city unfolding, learn about the architecture, inspirations and storytelling behind the architects who inspired the formation of the city. Bookings are essential.

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