Parramatta: From Wheat Farm to Global Powerhouse in 100 years

Parra Blog

If Parramatta was a sports star or a home-grown Aussie actor the media would describe its rise as ‘meteoric’.

Known initially as Rose Hill, Parramatta was founded in 1788 as a farming centre and did not achieve city status until 1955 when its population finally reached 15,000. [1]

Fast forward to the present day and population of Parramatta LGA has topped 256,729 [2] and the historic NSW city is now a centre for medical research, commerce and higher education, with a thriving food, cultural and sporting life.

Despite Parramatta’s transformation over the past two decades, planners believe that the River City is on the cusp of even greater change, predicting 67,951 new residents by 2039 and a massive spike in employment. [3]

Parramatta is popular with people who ambitious, young and multicultural – and who value the region’s dynamic, forward-looking industries and its lifestyle benefits.[4]

“Parramatta is attracting more aspirational people with the average household income increasing by 4.8% per annum over the last ten years,” says property research company Urbis. [5]

“The average household income in the region has grown faster than the Greater Sydney average.”

An Exciting Road Map

Parramatta 2050, a new discussion paper released by the City of Parramatta, describes Parramatta as ‘Western Sydney’s jobs engine’ and a creative hub that will attract Sydney’s major festivals and cultural and sports events over coming years.

“Our city’s dynamic fabric represents the acceleration of Parramatta beyond the bounds of current thinking,” according to the paper.

“We respect our past, embrace today, and work together to create a better, bolder tomorrow.”

With several universities and research institutes already established in Parramatta, planners believe that Sydney’s second CBD is poised to become a world leader in health, technology, clinical research and wellbeing.

“We amplify Parramatta’s health, research, innovation, creative and business economies by fostering collaborations between educational institutions and industries, locally and globally,” it says.

“We cultivate curiosity and experimentation, fostering an entrepreneurial spirit that drives continuous improvement and transformation. We are becoming, together, a place the world looks to for fresh ideas and momentum.”

A New Cultural Hub

While major projects such as Parramatta Square, the Powerhouse Precinct & Museum, and Parramatta Light Rail have already transformed the physical look of the city, there are many more significant projects in the pipeline such as:

  • Parramatta Quay & Charles Street Square
    This precinct is undergoing a $10 million facelift
  • Parramatta Riverside Theatres
    Being transformed into a pre-eminent arts precinct
  • Parramatta Aquatic & Leisure Centre
    This centre is emerging from a $89 million upgrade
  • Powerhouse Museum Parramatta
    The city’s cultural jewel, the new museum opens in 2025

Parramatta is a highly educated community, with 44% of residents holding a tertiary qualification — compared to 26% for Australia as a whole and 28% across NSW.

There are six universities with a presence in Parramatta, plus the teaching and research facilities Westmead which is also the largest hospital complex in the South Hemisphere.

Currently 40% of resident workers in Parramatta are employed in health, medical research and education, with the City of Parramatta forecasting an additional 50,000 positions will be created at Westmead Health Precinct by 2036. [6]

Future Employment & Transport

The city’s economic development is underpinned by a transport system which is the envy of Australia. Parramatta is one of the most connected cities in Australia, with a choice of modern transport systems including light rail, ferry, train and bus.

Existing transport networks will be augmented by the Sydney Metro West network connecting Parramatta to the Sydney CBD. Costing $18 billion, the underground rail line opens in 2030.

Work will soon begin on the 12km Light Rail link from Parramatta to Sydney Olympic Park. The project, which will cost a total of $2 billion, is expected to take five years to complete. Expected travel time is 37 minutes.

Strong Property Performance

Parramatta has experienced strong growth in apartment prices over the past 10 years but still offers excellent affordability for owner-occupiers and investors alike.

Rents and median prices continue to grow steadily, with gross rental yields remaining steady at around 4.8% a year. [7]

Investors are also buoyed by the high percentage of renters in the Parramatta market (72%) which translates into a healthy demand for high-quality rental properties in the CBD.

“Given the substantial infrastructure investment, employment growth along with the demographic attributes of residents in Parramatta, it is expected to remain a popular location for apartment growth.”

Parramatta has traditionally attracted large numbers of international migrants and students and this cohort is returning to the market as the world recovers from COVID-19.


[1] City of Parramatta website
[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2021 Census
[3] Parramatta 2050, City of Parramatta Council
[4] Urbis Market Outlook Parramatta, March 2024
[5] Urbis Market Outlook Parramatta, March 2024
[6] Parramatta 2050, City of Parramatta Council
[7] Urbis Market Outlook Parramatta, March 2024