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Australian Heritage celebrates Australia's history and heritage, and encourages everyone to share their interest in the diverse culture, landscape and traditions of our great island continent.

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Heritage Towns of Australia

Tasmania Victoria New South Wales South Australia Queensland Northern Territory Western Australia ACT


By clicking on a state or territory on the map, you can access a guide to Australia's historic towns, including a wealth of information about local history, heritage buildings, museums and places of interest.

We invite organisations to submit information for inclusion on this site. Please click here to email your information to the Directory Editor.

 

Search for town

 

Penrith

Captain Watkin Tench discovered the Nepean River at Penrith in June 1789. Further explorations took place from later in that year until 1891, when it was determined that the Nepean and the Hawkesbury rivers were actually one waterway.

High St looking east, 1907 (courtesy Nepean District Historical Society)

Surveys of land on the eastern side of the river were made from 1803 and in 1810 Castlereagh became the first officially planned town in the Penrith area.

It was at the site of current day Emu Plains where Gregory Blaxland, William Charles Wentworth and William Lawson crossed the Nepean River on their groundbreaking trip across the Blue Mountains in 1813. All previous attempts to cross the mountains had been unsuccessful. A crossing over the Nepean River was constructed between 17 and 25 July 1814 by a gang of convicts under the supervision of William Cox. The road was completed in only six months.

High St, Penrith, looking west, 1985 (courtesy Nepean District Historical Society)

In 1819 the Emu Plains Government Agricultural Establishment was set up at Emu Plains to house the colony's excess convicts and new arrivals. It operated until 1832, the year that the Village of Emu was laid out.

Penrith itself began to develop along the Great Western Road linking Sydney to the Blue Mountains and beyond in 1817, when a weatherboard courthouse and lock-up were constructed at the site. Development of the town was slow but by 1839 it was noted that a somewhat straggling village had been formed at the site. By this time, the foundation stone of St Stephen’s Anglican Church (still standing) had also been laid.

Penrith Council Chambers, 1930 (courtesy Nepean District Historical Society)

By 1861, Penrith, Emu Plains and St Marys had a combined population of 1,161. The railway reached Penrith in 1863, en route to the Blue Mountains and as the difficult task of constructing the line across the mountain range took place, Penrith became a centre for railway workers and tradesmen.

Remaining a country town well into the 20th century, Penrith has experienced major growth since WWII and in 1959 was declared a city, incorporating the former towns of Penrith, St Marys, Castlereagh, Emu Plains, and part of the Shire of Nepean.

Penrith is located around 54 kilometres west of Sydney by road. In the 2001 Census the city had a recorded population of 172,397 people.

Local Features


The Society was founded in 1924. It aims to collect, preserve, disseminate and educate the people of the Nepean district about the history of the area.

  • Publications :
    The Arms Chronicle is published monthly and contains Society activities and stories of history and archive snippets.
  • Events :
    26 January, Australia Day at Penrith Lakes; 26 June, Watkin Tench Memorial Dinner; 18th July (or closest Sunday), William Cox Historic Festival. Lantern tours are run year round.
  • Contact :
    Mr Craig Werner (President)
  • President Phone :
    0417 271 328
  • Email :
    info@nepeanhistoricalsociety.org.au
  • Address :
    PO Box 441
    Penrith
    NSW 2751
  • Postal Address :




A museum of local history containing over 100,000 artefacts dating from the 1790s to the 1960s, including household and farming equipment used or manufactured locally. Run by the Nepean District Historical Society. The building itself is one of the oldest buildings in Penrith. Open 10am to 2pm Wednesday and Thursday; and 1pm to 5pm Sunday. Other times by appointment.



  • Phone :
    1300 736 836
  • Fax :
    02 4732 7690
  • Email :
    pentour@penrithcity.nsw.gov.au
  • Address :
    Car Park, Panthers World of Entertainment, Mulgoa Road
    Penrith
    NSW
  • Postal Address :
    PO Box 60
    Penrith
    NSW 2751

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