As the second oldest city in Australia, unsurprisingly Parramatta has a rich history. Fortunately much of it remains in the form of historic buildings and other protected heritage structures that can be easily visited. This weekend, Parramatta Heritage Rides is offering a free bike tour in the Parramatta area - the "Churches and Cemeteries" ride.
This is a new addition to the range of rides they offer and promises to be a fascinating journey back in time - from a slightly different perspective.
Meet at the Tudor Gatehouse, Parramatta. Image Credit: sv1ambo distributed under CC BY 2.0 license
While it might seem macabre to some to take a historic church and cemetery tour, it is important to realise that the history of a place is closely intertwined with its places of worship and sites where the dead are laid to rest. For example, the ride stops at the heritage-listed St John's Cathedral which is considered the oldest church in continuous use in Australia, and its graveyard is the oldest existing European burial ground in Australia. Many of the crew of the First Fleet are even buried within this cemetery.
For the weekend cycler, be assured that despite the ride covering around 13 km, there are plenty of stops and explanations of the heritage locations.
St Johns Cathedral. Image credit: Sardaka distributed under CC BY 3.0 license
Parramatta Heritage Rides offer other historic tours around Parramatta as well, including their "20 Bridges" ride and their "Bridges and Boundaries" ride. They were even awarded a commendation at the Parramatta City Council Heritage Awards, 2013. If you are interested in these sorts of bike rides consider joining the Parramatta Heritage Rides Facebook page. It's a great way to keep tabs on what tours are on offer, and if rides are to be cancelled because of bad weather.
St Patrick's Cathedral - one of the stops on the Churches and Cemetaries ride. Image Credit: Sardaka distributed under CC BY 3.0 license
The "Churches and Cemeteries" ride sets off from another beautiful Parramatta location – the Tudor Gatehouse, Parramatta Park at 8.30 am and the ride will go for around 2 hours. If you don't have a bike of your own, there are provisions for bike hire.