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A Brief History of St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta NSW

St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta NSW is the oldest cemetery in Australia and one of the few still remaining from the colonial period. It was established by Governor Arthur Phillip to provide a burial ground for convicts who died while serving their sentence at Sydney Cove. The first person buried at St. John’s Cemetery was James Barrett on 22nd March 1791, but there are no records of his final resting place.

image by Wikipedia

This cemetery is the resting places of many convicts who have served time in penal servitude and it remained so up until 1820 before being granted permission to bury free men.

The cemetery is divided into general and convict sections, the latter of which can be found in Parramatta North Head Road near St John’s Church. The graves here are from 1791 to 1868 when it was closed for burial purposes.

It has been reported that there have been rumours about a tunnel underneath the grounds; supposedly leading to Cockle Bay or Balmain – but this rumour has never been confirmed by anyone with first-hand knowledge on such matters.

St John’s Cemetery remains an important reminder of our colonial history as well as being one of Sydney’s oldest parks and recreation spaces, serving a range of users including joggers, walkers, dog owners, and locals who enjoy picking up litter while walking their dog.

Visiting this place is a great way to understand the history of Parramatta and it is recognised as one of Australia’s most important heritage sites. It provides a glimpse of what life was like during the early colonial period and it is a place that holds significance to many people who are descendants of convicts.

There is lots of green spaces for picnics and even a cafe, so it’s perfect for an afternoon out with the family. If you are looking for a great place to walk your dog or go for a jog, then this is the spot.