we are the new west
Penrith is a place of innovation, recreation and celebration.
Penrith offers a unique balance of rural and urban. A major feature is the renowned Nepean-Hawkesbury
River with the Nepean Gorge as the foremost feature. It’s little wonder people come to our city to take advantage of our great outdoors. Penrith Whitewater Stadium is always a popular choice but if you ask a
local to name their favourite spot they just might mention Tench Reserve where you can picnic or have a
BBQ by the river or “The Rock” lookout, just a short drive from the Penrith CBD.
A building boom occurred in the 1970s with the development of many housing subdivisions, and Penrith
became home to thousands of Greater Sydney’s newest residents. This growth continued until the present
day and between 2014 and 2034 Penrith’s catchment population is expected to double to one million people who will live here or visit for services, shopping, education and entertainment..
Penrith is an adventure destination, home to adrenaline-raising permanent attractions and special events.
Get some air at Australia’s first indoor skydiving facility, iFLY Downunder, or get wet at the southern hemisphere’s best whitewater facility. You can also try jetpacking at the Regatta Centre, wakeboarding at Panthers or get behind the controls of a
plane in a 737 simulator. The Sydney
International Regatta Centre, built for the 2000 Olympics, remains a world class rowing facility and regular site for special events. If
outdoor thrills are your thing, try abseiling
The Nepean is part of a major river system that surrounds Sydney on three sides. It flows from south to north, passing through Nepean Gorge and on to the Pacific Ocean. South of the Penrith city centre, the river and mountains come together at the spectacular Nepean Gorge. To the west the rugged Blue Mountains sweep up to the horizon creating a backdrop that dominates the view in many parts of the city.
Why not enjoy a river cruise or visit “The Rock” lookout. Closer to town you can take it in by walking all or part of the “Great River Walk”. You can enjoy a hands-on experience of the Blue Mountains right in Penrith’s backyard at the Glenbrook section of the Blue Mountains National Park. Penrith is also a great base for exploring further afield to other parts of the Blue Mountains, including Katoomba and beyond to Jenolan Caves.
Even before the Blue Mountains started to form, a vast floodplain developed around the Nepean River just to the north of the present day Penrith city centre. Regular flooding over thousands of years formed deep rich soil, sand and gravel deposits. In the early days of European settlement this was an important food bowl. Later, the sand and gravel was mined and used in many of Sydney’s prominent buildings. A century of quarrying will soon end, bringing on the final phase of converting the quarry site to lakes and parkland. This transition began over 20 years ago with the creation of the Penrith Lakes Scheme and the development of the International Regatta Centre and Penrith Whitewater Stadium which were the venue for rowing and canoeing in the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Today these venues continue to host major sporting and other events, including the Sydney International Rowing Regatta and DEFQON.1 music festival. You can also just call in for a peaceful picnic or BBQ in the Regatta Centre grounds when there aren’t events on.
the great river walk
One of the best experiences in Penrith is absolutely free! Penrith Council has created almost eight kilometres of walking track along the Nepean River. Known as the “Great River Walk”, it features spectacular views of our beautiful river set against the backdrop of the Blue Mountains. The walk features rest spots and lookouts where you can see birds and other wildlife in a natural setting. Along the way you’ll find the Penrith Regional
Gallery and places to enjoy a coffee and something to eat.
Look for the signs along the route to learn about the cultural and historical context of the river and the life of Penrith. The track is a loop that follows the riverbank. At the northern end of the loop it crosses the river at Victoria Bridge. At the southern end the walk shares the M4 Motorway bridge. Because it’s a loop you can start and finish anywhere without missing any part of the walk.
The indigenous people of Penrith occupied the lands and waters of our city for thousands of years before European settlement. For generations they hunted game, fished and gathered plant food. Penrith’s European history begins in 1789, just a year after the establishment of the British colony of New South Wales, when the early colony needed pastures for food crops and came to the rich, fertile plains at the foot of the mountains. The first Europeans to set eyes on the river described it as being “nearly as broad as the Thames at Putney and apparently of great depth, the current running very slowly in a northerly direction”. Governor Arthur Phillip named the river “Nepean” after Evan Nepean, the Under Secretary of the Home Office in Britain, who’d been involved in organising the First Fleet.
In 1813 Penrith was the starting point for Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson who made the first European crossing of the Blue Mountains. This opened up vast tracts of pastoral land which became the backbone of Australia’s prosperous economy. The name ‘Penrith’ is first recorded in 1822. It is believed to be named after the market town of Penrith in Cumbria in England which is also set on the banks of a river with a range of hills forming a backdrop. The arrival of the railway in 1863 was another important milestone which contributed to the growth of Penrith and led to the dynamic city it is today.