Dairy Precinct - Parramatta Park
© Copyright Mike Fernandes 2013
The Dairy Precinct - Parramatta Park The Dairy Precinct is an area in Parramatta Park located on a ridge overlooking Parramatta River. Its story is one of changing uses over hundreds of years. Originally inhabited by the Aboriginal people, it was taken over by white settlers for growing crops for the new colony. The land then became part of Governor Macquarie's dairy. Finally, in the 1850s, the area became part of a public park. Each era of occupation has left its mark on the land and signs of past lives. George Salter's Farm George Salter was transported to Parramatta in 1788 for his part in a smuggling ring. When his sentence expired in 1796 he was granted 30 acres of land on condition that he improved and cultivated the land. By 1800, Salter was growing wheat and maize and owned a pig and a horse. He lived on his farm with ex convict Winifred Marsh and employed three convict labourers. Salter and Marsh built a small two roomed cottage on their property using local materials. The bricks were made in a brick yard down by the river, the mortar was made from river muds with shells from Aboriginal middens and the timbers were local hardwoods. The only imported materials would have been the window glass and the iron nails. This cottage survives today as the two front rooms of the Dairy Cottage. Governor's Dairy In 1813, Salter sold his cottage to Governor Macquarie and took up an appointment as Superintendent of Crown Stock in Hobart. A short time later, in about 1815 or 1816, Macquarie converted the cottage into a dairy. He added two wings which gave the cottage the shape we see today. He also added two pavilions (now demolished) one of which contained a sunken room. Agricultural land to public park The Governors Domain was given to the people as a great public park in 1857. The Dairy Cottage became a residence for park rangers and their families until a new house was built in 1875. This cottage is known as the Rangers Cottage. After it was built, the Dairy Cottage was used as a storage shed. Rangers managed the park in its hey day during the 1890' and 1900s when it was one of Sydney's most popular weekend destinations for sport, picnics, concerts or simply promenading. The Dairy Precinct include the archaeological remains of changing sheds for the river beach known as 'Little Coogee', because of the 'surf carnival' run by lifesavers from Coogee Beach. From milk room to cellar A sunken room formed part of the Governor's Dairy  the location of which was unknown for many years. Archaeologists at first investigated under the floorboards of the Dairy Cottage but eventually located the room, intact, under the Ranger's Cottage. After the sunken room ceased being used for a dairy, it was used as a cellar. The stout bottles from this period are still visible in the room. Survival through reuse and neglect The use of the cottage as Salter's farm house, as part of a dairy, as a park ranger's residence and as a storage shed, all served to protect the Dairy Cottage from demolition or development. The reuse of the sunken milk room as a cellar resulted in the preservation of this extraordinary archaeological feature. From about the 1930s, large parts of the site were used to store machinery and to maintain equipment. These utilitarian activities also helped preserve the site. Preservation Many of the features still survive today. A walk around the Precinct will reveal archaeological items such as building foundations, remnants of early fences and agricultural furrows. Information by courtesy of Parramatta Park Trust
Dairy precinct - Parramatta Park
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