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Archaeological digs uncover fascinating finds at Parramatta North

27 February 2017

Australia’s rich indigenous and colonial history is being further explored through archaeological investigations at Parramatta.

The work is part of the important heritage conservation program currently underway as part of UrbanGrowth NSW’s Parramatta North Urban Transformation Program.

“UrbanGrowth NSW is spending about $18m on heritage building repairs and archaeological investigations across this important site,” said Matthew Beggs, Head of Western Sydney Projects at UrbanGrowth NSW.

“The program of work will not only conserve the physical heritage of the site but it will also help us to better understand the social and cultural heritage of the area.

“As well as being a known Aboriginal settlement area, Parramatta North was also home to early colonial institutions including the Parramatta Female Factory from 1818 and the Roman Catholic Orphan School from 1841. UrbanGrowth NSW Project Leader Donna Savage said indigenous teams were on the ground in Parramatta.

“Archaeological teams with indigenous expertise and links to the land have been working across the site to see what can be uncovered,” she said.

“Already they have unearthed some tool-making flints on the main oval which confirm Aboriginal activity in the area.”

Archaeological investigations have also found:

glass marbles, hand-made game counters and miniature porcelain dolls dating back to the early 1900s a clay tobacco pipe from around 1847-1870

a child’s bone toothbrush from pre 1940

a lined writing slate and slate pencils dated around 1868-1943.

“Investigations are continuing until late 2017. All finds are being documented and reported to the NSW Heritage Council and the Office of Environment and Heritage.

“The findings from the archaeological investigations add another layer to existing historical records and will help us understand more about the area’s history.”

As well as the archaeological investigations on site, UrbanGrowth NSW is carrying out repairs to six heritage buildings to ensure they are safe, structurally sound and weatherproof. This includes replacing roof tiles with matching slate imported from Wales, repairing roof lanterns, windows and doors, repairing sandstone blocks, stripping back external paintwork to reveal original sandstone and bricks and removing 1950s and 1960s additions which detract from the heritage character.

Building repairs will continue until mid-2018. All heritage conservation work is being conducted in accordance with approvals obtained under the Heritage Act 1977. 

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