Penrith, New South Wales

Penrith, New South Wales
SydneyNew South Wales
St. Stephen's Penrith.jpg
St. Stephen's Church
Population: 11,396[1]
Established: 1818
Postcode: 2750
Area: 12.33 km² (4.8 sq mi)
Location: 50 km (31 mi) west of Sydney CBD
LGA: City of Penrith
State District: Electoral district of Penrith
Federal Division: Division of Lindsay
Suburbs around Penrith:
Castlereagh Cranebrook Cambridge Gardens
Emu Plains Penrith Cambridge Park
Jamisontown South Penrith Kingswood
Location map of Penrith based on NASA satellite images

Penrith is a suburb in western Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Penrith is located 50 kilometres (31 mi) west of the Sydney central business district and is the administrative centre for the local government area of the City of Penrith. It lies east of the Nepean River.

Penrith is a commercial centre, designated a regional city under the NSW Metropolitan Strategy.[2]



Penrith was named after the town of Penrith, Cumbria, England. However, Penrith comes from "Penrhyd" which is the Welsh Language for "Chief Ford / Hill Ford". How it got the name is unclear. One theory is that in the early days, development in Penrith was entirely on one road, like the English Penrith, and someone familiar with both spotted the similarity and suggested the name. The earliest known written reference to the name Penrith dates back to 1819.[3]

Indigenous settlement

Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the Penrith area was home to the Mulgoa tribe of the Darug people. They lived in makeshift huts called gunyahs, hunted native animals such as kangaroos, fished in the Nepean River, and gathered local fruits and vegetables such as yams. They lived under an elaborate system of Law which had its origins in the Dreamtime. Most of the Mulgoa were killed by smallpox or galgala shortly after the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788. Early British explorers such as Watkin Tench described them as friendly, saying, "they bade us adieu, in unabated friendship and good humour".[4]

European settlement

Watkin Tench was the first British explorer to visit the area in 1789 and named the Nepean River after Lord Evan Nepean, under-secretary to the home department.[5] Governor King began granting land in the area to settlers in 1804 with Captain Daniel Woodriff's 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) on the banks of the river the first land grant in the area. In 1814, William Cox constructed a road across the Blue Mountains which passed through Woodriff's land at Penrith. Initial settlement in the area was unplanned but substantial enough for a courthouse to be established in 1817.[3]

Thomas Frost's grave at St. Stephen's

The post office was established in 1828, the Anglican church, St Stephens, was built in 1844 followed by the Catholic Church, St Nicholas of Myra, in 1850. Two other prominent Penrith pioneers were Irish-born Thomas Jamison (1752/53-1811), a member of the First Fleet and surgeon-general of New South Wales (after whom Jamisontown is named), and his son, the landowner, physician and constitutional reformer Sir John Jamison (1776–1844). In 1824, Sir John erected the colony's finest Georgian mansion, Regentville House, near Penrith, on a ridge overlooking the Nepean River. Sir John established an impressive agricultural estate at Regentville and became a Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council. His grave can be seen in St Stephen's graveyard. Regentville House burned down in 1868 but most of its stonework was salvaged and used for building projects in and around Penrith.

Another well-known early settler was Thomas Frost (d. 1862) who arrived from Buckinghamshire in 1810. His wife Sarah[6] had been baptised by Samuel Marsden and her brother, Robert Rope, was reputed to be the first European born in Australia.[7][8] In a Petition to the governor of the colony, Sir Thomas Brisbane, on 13 October 1822, Thomas Frost declares that he is a Free Man and cultivates a farm on the Nepean River where he has a herd of 125 cattle. He mentions that the previous Governor, General Macquarie, was pleased to grant him, Thomas, a further 50 acres (20 ha) of land at Bathurst and he now craves the Governor's consent to drive cattle across the mountains to that property for pasturage. Frost's gravestone still stands in good condition in St. Stephen's Churchyard, Penrith.

The first bridge was opened over the Nepean in 1856 and was washed away the following year in a flood. The railway line was extended to Penrith in 1863, a school was established in 1865 and in 1871 the area became a municipality. It officially became a city in 1959.[3]

Commercial area

Penrith's central business district and commercial area

Penrith is one of the major commercial centres in Greater Western Sydney. Penrith hosts a number of shopping complexes, the largest being Westfield Penrith, formerly known as Penrith Plaza. The shopping centre features over 200 stores ranging from department stores to specialty shops.


Penrith Railway Station is a major railway station on the Western Line of the CityRail network. It has frequent services to and from the City and is also a minor stop on the intercity Blue Mountains Line.

Penrith railway station has its own bus interchange (as do several major railway stations in Sydney). Penrith is also served by Nightride Bus route 70.

Penrith Railway Station - view from platform 3 looking west

Penrith can easily be accessed from St. Marys and Mt. Druitt via the Great Western Highway. Access from further east is best obtained by the M4 Western Motorway using either The Northern Road or Mulgoa Road exits. If travelling east from the Blue Mountains, access is best obtained by the Great Western Highway. Access from the south can be obtained by The Northern Road and Mulgoa Road, north from Castlereagh road or Richmond road, or from north and south via Westlink M7 and the M4 Western Motorway.


Penrith Public School and Penrith High School are two public schools in High Street. Jamison High School is in South Penrith. St Nicholas of Myra is a Catholic primary school, which is part of Catholic Education, Diocese of Parramatta), is located in Higgins Street.[3]

The Penrith campus of Nepean College of TAFE is located in the centre of town on Henry Street.[9] The Penrith campus of the University of Western Sydney is located in nearby Werrington.[10]

Landmarks and tourist attractions



The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Complex is in High Street next to the Council Chambers. Named after opera singer Joan Sutherland, the building was designed by architect Philip Cox and opened in 1990. It incorporates the Penrith Conservatorium of Music and the Q Theatre, which had been operating in Railway Street for 30 years before moving to the complex in 2006.[14]

Sport and recreation

Penrith Stadium, home of the Penrith Panthers NRL team

Penrith has a number of local sporting clubs, the most well known being the Penrith Panthers rugby league club who play in the National Rugby League. The club (one of the largest in Australia) has a massive entertainment complex and resort, Panthers World of Entertainment. Penrith's Junior Rugby League competition is the largest in the world, which also incorporates teams from the Blue Mountains, Blacktown and Windsor/Richmond areas. Visit the Penrith Junior League Website for more information.

The Panthers' home ground, Penrith Stadium (or Centrebet Stadium), is also home to the Penrith Nepean United[15] soccer club. The club has been quite successful, perhaps the team's most memorable result has been a 2-1 Win against Asian Champions League contenders Sydney FC in a home game friendly match in front of 5000 fans on August the 17th 2007.

There are also many other sporting associations, including cricket clubs, AFL clubs, Penrith City Outlaws gridiron team,[16] Panthers Triathlon club[17] and swimming clubs. For a full list see the Penrith City Council's list of sporting groups.

Just west of Cranebrook is the Penrith Lakes Scheme, a system of flooded quarries that are now recreational lakes. One of these lakes hosted the rowing events of the Sydney 2000 Olympics. This facility is rated as a Level One course which can be used for international events.[18] The course itself is fully buoyed and can be modified to accommodate swimming and kayaking events.

North of the rowing lake is the Penrith Whitewater Stadium, the only pump-powered and artificial whitewater slalom course in the Southern Hemisphere.[19] It was built for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, and it continues to host international competitions on a regular basis.

Penrith is home to the Elite Fight Gym. A mixed martial arts training facility run by UFC fighter James Te-Huna.[20]


Penrith is home to four local weekly newspapers: The Western Weekender, Nepean News, Penrith Press and Penrith Star. It is also home to local radio stations Vintage FM 87.6, FUSION 87.8 FM Dance Music Radio and Cool Country 2KA.


Victoria Bridge over the Nepean River, linking Penrith to Emu Plains

Penrith sits on the western edge of the Cumberland Plain, a fairly flat area of Western Sydney, extending to Windsor in the north, Parramatta in the east and Thirlmere in the south. The Nepean River forms the western boundary of the suburb and beyond that, dominating the western skyline, are the Blue Mountains. There is a difference of opinion between Penrith City Council and the Geographical Names Board of New South Wales as to the boundaries of Penrith the suburb. The Board includes in its official description the area of Kingswood Park, Lemongrove and North Penrith, which the Council considers separate suburbs.[3][21][22]


The city falls under the Humid subtropical climate (Cfa). The temperatures are a few degrees warmer than Sydney (Observatory Hill) on summer days and a few degrees cooler on winter nights. In extreme cases, there could be a temperature differential of 10 degrees Celsius in summer due to sea breezes, which do not usually penetrate inland to the Nepean. Mean Summer temperatures are 18 °C to 30 °C and in the Winter 6 °C to 18 °C. Mean yearly rainfall is 698.6 millimetres, which is less than Sydney (Observatory Hill) rainfall by 300-400mm, as coastal showers do not penetrate inland. The highest recorded temperature is 46.0 °C in January 2001. The wettest months are from October through to March and driest from April to September, although high amount of rain is still evenly distributed throughout the year.[23]

Climate data for Penrith
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 46.0
Average high °C (°F) 30.7
Average low °C (°F) 18.3
Record low °C (°F) 11.3
Precipitation mm (inches) 91.6
Source: [24]



According to the 2006 census conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Penrith had a population of 11,396. Apart from English, no language was spoken by more than 1% of the population with Arabic (0.9%) topping the list. Of people born overseas, three of the top five countries were England, New Zealand and Scotland with India (1.0%) the leading non-English speaking country of birth.[1]

Notable residents


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Penrith (State Suburb)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  2. ^ NSW Government Planning
  3. ^ a b c d e "Local suburb profile - Penrith". Penrith City Council. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  4. ^ Christopher Tobin. "The Dharug Story". Mananura Aboriginal Centre. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  5. ^ "The early land alienation pattern". Penrith City Council. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  6. ^ Nepean Times, 19 August 1882, reports on her death
  7. ^ The Australian Genealogist, Vol.II, part 3, July 1936, which gives his birth date as 5 September 1788.
  8. ^ The Pioneers of Sydney Cove, p.87, which gives his birth date as November 5, 1788.
  9. ^ TAFE NSW - Campuses & Institutes Retrieved 2009-06-18
  10. ^ Penrith | University of Western Sydney (UWS) Retrieved 2009-06-18
  11. ^ Penrith Museum of Fire Retrieved 2009-06-18
  12. ^ Sydney International Regatta Centre - Official Website
  13. ^ Nepean Belle
  14. ^ "Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Complex". Tourism NSW. Retrieved 2008-05-22. 
  15. ^ "Penrith Nepean United Football Club". Penrith Nepean United. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  16. ^ "Penrith City Outlaws". Penrith City Outlaws. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  17. ^ "Panthers Triathlon Club". Panthers Triathlon Club. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  18. ^ "Sydney International Regatta Centre, Penrith Club". SIRC. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  19. ^ A review of past and future Olympic Venues Retrieved 2009-06-20
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Cumberland Plain Vegetation Mapping Project". NSW Department of Environment & Climate Change. Retrieved 2008-05-22. 
  22. ^ "City of Penrith". Penrith City Council. Retrieved 2008-05-22. 
  23. ^ "Climate statistics for Penrith Lakes". Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  24. ^ "Climate statistics for Penrith". Australian Bureau of Meteorology. 

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