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On the northwest edge of town, between a fast food complex and a string of mega hardware stores, sits the most important historical site in Blacktown. It looks like an empty paddock, with a few clumps of trees, and no signage to speak of. But in the early 1800s, this site was ground zero for Australia’s stolen generations. When Governor Macquarie set up the Native Institution in Parramatta, this was where the first recorded incidence of Aboriginal children being forcibly taken from their families took place.
In 1823, Macquarie moved the Native Institution to what is now the corner of Richmond Road and Rooty Hill Road. When the children moved, their families moved with them, though they weren’t permitted any regular contact. “They camped around the edges, and that spot became known as ‘the Blacks’ Town’ and that road that became Richmond Road was called ‘Blacks’ Town road’, and that’s how Blacktown got its name,” says Jenny Bisset, the director of Blacktown Arts Centre, who have staged a number of projects on the site. “The Darug community have a lot of knowledge about that site.”
Today, Blacktown City Council is the most populous local government area in NSW. In fact, it’s population size is greater than that of Canberra. Within this LGA the suburb of Blacktown is a dynamic mix of residents from every corner of the globe. Don’t believe us? Check out the Max Webber Library, which boasts a book from every country on the planet and has extensive collections of books and magazines in Punjabi, Urdu, Russian, Vietnamese, Filipino, Nepali, Turkish, Serbian, Tamil, Spanish, Korean and Persian.
The Westpoint is a gleaming shopping mall of highstreet brands, while below it on Main Street you have a bustling hub of specialist shops selling Turkish biscuits, Afghani street food, Sudanese groceries, halal meat, Filipino barbecue and Indian homewares.
It also boasts a Tafe campus, an aquatic centre and a very flash hospital that received a major upgrade in 2019, including a new emergency department and maternity suites, which is handy given this area is very popular with young families.
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What’s Blacktown known for
Everything is bigger out west and open space is at a premium in Blacktown: wide streets, big houses, vast parks. Blacktown is a culturally and economically diverse area, with affordable land blocks, public housing and dream-making estates all making up the residential landscape. Famous locals include the Edgerton brothers (Joel and Nash) and professional soccer player Kyah Simon.
Why do the locals love it
Therese Vi, who moved here two years ago with her husband and baby son, loves Blacktown for its wide open spaces. “Blacktown is great for kids. It has huge, brand new parks; a waterpark at Blacktown Showground; and even a zoo next door in Bungarribee. It’s a cultural hot pot with a lot going on, and so are the neighbouring suburbs, which is what makes it such a nice place to live.”
How do I get to Blacktown?
The train is the fastest and cheapest way to get to Blacktown. It’s more than 30kms out from the CBD on the T1 or T5 lines, but if you get an express it’s less than a handful of stops in total. Most locals drive in the area, but if you’re commuting in from out of area the tolls can stack up, so be aware. The Busways routes 721-756 connect Blacktown to the rest of Greater Western Sydney; the 705 and 711 routes connect Blacktown to Parramatta; and the 611 gets you to Macquarie Park.
Rooty Hill RSL is a dining destination, plus they have bowling, a gym and it’s where the bigger name live acts head (Tina Arena played in 2019). Toongabbie is a destination for Tamil, Sri Lankan and Malaysian dining; and Eastern Creek Quarter is a flash new shopping centre and dining hub.
Map of Blacktown
If you only do one thing
Blacktown is home to Sydney’s OG drive-in cinema, Skyline. They play new releases and nostalgic titles (Jurassic Park, anyone?); have a 50’s style diner on site; and you get the audio through your FM radio.