About this Page

The Cumberland Mental Health Precinct in North Parramatta is home to some of the most significant heritage sites in New South Wales. Most of it has been under continuous occupation by Europeans from the early colonial grants in the 1790s through to its continued use as a mental health precinct for the Cumberland Hospital.

In the 1800s this site and the surrounding area saw the erection of one of Australia’s first Government Mills, first botanical garden, Samuel Marsden’s Mill, the second ‘female factory’, the colony’s largest insane asylum, a Catholic Orphan School, a landscape sculpted by the Garden City Movement, and its own sandstone quarry.

The unique history of the transformation of the ‘female factory’ into an insane asylum, and then mental health precinct in the 1900s continues to provide us with insights into nearly 200 years of convict and medical history in Australia … read full post ….

This set of resources has been compiled by the Parramatta City Council, Heritage and Research Services. For more information on Council’s position in relation to the Urban Growth, New South Wales, plans for the site, see Council’s Official Statement.


Thwaites and Reed Clock

Timeline 1792-1983: Parramatta North, Mental Health Precinct

This extensive timeline covers major events of interest which have occurred across the entire site since European Colonisation in the 1790s

New South Wales Heritage Office Assessments

The New South Wales Heritage Office site provides official assessments on the significance, history and description of the Cumberland Hospital Precinct.

New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment Submissions

The Department of Environment website contains links to the submissions made on exhibited plans relating to the Cumberland Hospital Precinct.

One of the better known sites on the Cumberland Hospital Precinct is the old ‘Female Factory’ and ‘Insane Asylum’. While these buildings were eventually spread over the entire site the origins of the ‘Female Factory’ go back Prince Alfred Square and the first Parramatta gaols. This page gathers all our research relating to this long and convoluted history in one place.

Stories about the Cumberland Hospital Precinct, ‘Female Factory’, and surrounding area

Keeping Good Time: Clocks of Parramatta

The Centennial Memorial Fountain in Centenary Square, Parramatta, 2017 (Source: Anna Namuren) Devices have been used to measure the concept of time for thousands of years - from the tracking of the sun by obelisks and dials, to the use of hourglasses and waterclocks,...

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Dr Sydney Evan Jones: Mental health pioneer

Portrait of Sydney Evan Jones as a medical student, c.1910. Source: Friends of Mays Hill Cemetery Photograph Collection The ground-breaking career of Dr Sydney Evan Jones (1887-1948), one of Australia's earliest psychiatrists and doctor on Sir Douglas Mawson’s...

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Images of Parramatta Cumberland Precinct and surrounding areas

Reports and Resource Links

Online Resources List:

  • Baseline Archaeological Assessment & Statement of Heritage Impact Historical Archaeology. Cumberland Precinct Sports & Leisure Precinct Parramatta North Urban Renewal – Rezoning. Casey and Lowe 2014


  • Urban Growth NSW Preliminary Environmental Site Assessment North Parramatta Urban Renewal Sports & Leisure and Part Cumberland East Precincts


  • Drainage Diversion, Fleet Street, Tia, N.S.W. Report On Archaeological Watching Brief, 1990


  • Conservation Plan For Cumberland Hospital Heritage Precinct Historian’s Report 1992


  • Conservation Plan for Cumberland Hospital Heritage Precinct 1992


  • Conservation Plan For Cumberland Hospital Heritage Precinct Archaeological Assessment 1992


  • New Artisans’ Workshop Site Cumberland Hospital Parramatta Archaeological Assessment A Report Prepared For The Public Works Department Of NSW 1990


Corporate Library Resources List:

  • Darling Mills Creek stormwater management report ( Upper Parramatta River Catchment trust); Prepared by Bewsher consulting; 1992
  • Darling Mills Creek stormwater management report ( Upper Parramatta River Catchment trust); Prepared by Bewsher consulting; 1994
  • Preparation of a plan management North Parramatta Regional Sports Complex and design and costing of an international standard Hockey centre Old Saleyards Reserves North Parramatta ( Study brief); Parramatta City Council (Recreation Services Division); 1994
  • Parramatta River basin drainage study; Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation in association with Willing and partners Pty Ltd, Bruce Mackenzie and Associates, Alex Overett Pty Ltd; 1976
  • North Parramatta mixed use zone stage 1 master plan; Urban and landscape design group; 2000
  • Parramatta Park : management and interpretation of Aboriginal sites, Stage 1; Dr Val Attenbrow Division of Anthropology Australian Museum; 1994
  • Parramatta River Foreshores Reserves : Concept plan and management strategy, consultancy submission August 1993; Clouston Landscape Architects, Urban designers, Landscape planners; 1993
  • Future Development O’Connell Street, Parramatta; De Leuw, Cather of Australia; 1978
  • Report: Parramatta Park the Observatory site excavation of the fundations; Anne Bickford , Brian McDonald Architect; 1988
  • Parramatta Park Management Plan Review and Master Landscape Plan Brief 1994; Parramatta City Council; 1994
  • Archaeological report : Governor’s Dairy Precinct, Parramatta Park; Wendy Thorp; 1994
  • Report on site investigation : proposed weir and landscaping Domain Creek, Parramatta Park; Thomson Harris & Partners; 1987

Local Studies & Family History Library Resources List:

  • Index, Female Factory, Parramatta, 1826 to 1848; Joan Reese : LS 929.3944 REE (Microfiche)
  • These outcaste women: the Parramatta Female Factory 1821 – 1848: Salt Annette : LS 365.99441 SAL
  • Rules and regulations for the management of the female convicts in the new factory: 31st January 1821; Lachlan Macquarie : LS 365.6430269441 RUL
  • The first Female factory in Parramatta, 1800 – 1821; Michael Flynn : LS 365.9441 FLY
  • Female Factory, Parramatta records of females discharged, Oct. 1846 – Apr. 1848; LS REEL 2802
  • Colonial ladies: lovely, lively and lamentably loose : crime reports from the Sydney herald relating to the Female Factory, Parramatta, 1831-1835; Judith Dunn : LS 364.374 DUNN
  • North Parramatta Government Sites: conservation management plan; New South Wales, Department of Public Works and services : LS 725.1099441 NOR STACK
  • The women transported on the 1790 “Neptune”; Anne Needham : LS 994.02 NEE
  • Women transported : life in Australia’s convict female factories; Gay Hendriksen ; Trudy Cowley ; Carol Liston: LS 365.6082 HEND
  • Abandon all hope, a history of Parramatta girls industrial school; Bonney Djuric : LS 362.732 ABAN
  • Design for convicts, an account of design for convict establishments in the Australian Colonies during the transportation era / James Semple Kerr
  • Female Orphan School restoration project; Schwager Brooks and Partners Pty. Ltd. : LS 725.570288 FEMA
  • Protestant boys orphan school register; Parramatta City Council: LS CDROM 929.39441 PROT
  • NSW Orphan School index 1817 – 1833; Janet Reakes: LS 362.73209944 NEW (Microfiche)
  • Orphan School admission and applications, 1817 – 1833; NSW Clergy and School Lands Corporation: LS REEL 2776 – 2777
  • Design for convicts, an account of design for convict establishments in the Australian Colonies during the transportation era / James Semple Kerr
  • These outcast women : the Parramatta Female Factory 1821-1848 /​ Annette Salt
  • A review of the existing building fabric study at Cumberland Hospital, Parramatta: for State Projects NSW Department of Public Works and Services; NSW Dept. of Public Works and services : LS 362.2109941 REV
  • Hidden heritage; 150 years of public mental health care at Cumberland Hospital, Parramatta 1849 – 1999; Terry Smith: LS 362.21099441 SMI
  • Archaeological Management Plan (Historical Sites) For Conservation Management Plan: Cumberland Hospital, Fleet Street, N Parramatta, 2009; Edward Higginbotham
  • Conservation Management Plan & Archaeological Management Plan: Cumberland Hospital East Campus & Wisteria Gardens, 2010; Edward Higginbotham
  • Caring for convicts and the community: a history of Parramatta Hospital; NSW Cumberland Area Health Service
  • A heritage study of four weirs along the Parramatta River – Charles street Weir, Marsden Street Weir, Parramatta park Kiosk Weir and Cumberland Hospital (upstream) Weir; NSW Water Resources Commission: LS 627.4099441 Parramatta City Council