If you are a heritage fan, the Parramatta Women’s Factory precinct is a must-do ride. There are many ways to get there, but I took the cycleway from Ryde which is one of the most popular bike paths in Sydney. Its easy to see why:
The Parramatta River area really is delightful. Ride past the Performing Arts Centre to cross the bridge and find the grand Tudor Gatehouse to Parramatta Park and nearby Old Government House.
Head for the northern edge of the Park towards the Cumberland Hospital Campus and you’ll find the vast heritage-listed Parramatta Female Factory. It opened in the early 1800’s to house ‘loose and fallen women’ as a prison, an asylum, a hospital, and a cloth-making factory. Legend says its full of the ghosts of harshly treated convict women but it’s a fascinating place to visit.
The Factory grounds are adjacent to the former Parramatta Gaol that now sits empty awaiting a new purpose in its historic life.
I back-tracked through Parramatta Park onto the Cycleway and stopped off at the University of Western Sydney. I get the most reliable cappuccino there and it’s always a pleasure to ride through the campus.
Back on the path, I pass Silverwater Bridge and Rhodes Bridge, thinking how lucky I am to have the time to explore such beautiful and interesting places.
This was a 40km ride in about two and a half hours, but you could cut it down by going direct to Parramatta by ferry, train, or car. You can also extend it by going via Olympic Park. It’s a thoroughly safe and scenic ride, and the heritage sights are wonderful.