Location: Where is Penrith?

Penrith (suburb), New South Wales Australia, is located on the eastern side of the Nepean River, bounded on the south by Jamison Road, west by Parker Street and north by Andrews Road. The boundaries of this suburb have been defined according to the Geographical Names Board. Therefore, it includes North Penrith, Kingswood Park and Lemongrove. Penrith City Council recognise North Penrith as a separate suburb, however, most residents do not. For the confines of this profile Penrith suburb has its widest boundaries. This suburb is the centre of the City of Penrith, socially, commercially and economically. The Civic Centre and Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, amidst the Central Business District, draw the city’s residents to its active heart.

33 45’01″S 150 41’39″E

Postcode: 2750 Population: 13,295 (2016 Census) Distance from Sydney: 55 km
Area: 12.33 km2 or 1233 ha Density: 11.4 people per ha Penrith NSW on Google Maps


Origin of the place name – Penrith

Possibly named after Penrith in the County of Cumberland (now Cumbria), England. It is not known who first introduced the name to the area. The earliest reference to Penrith can be found in the 1819 journal of three Frenchmen – MM. Jean Rene Constant Quoy, Charles Gaudichaud and Alphonse Peilion. In their journal entitled “Excursion to the Town of Bathurst, 1819” they refer to the “military depot” at Penrith. To date, this is the earliest reference found using the name of Penrith. The name may have been in use as early as 1817; however, as records show that a Court-House was operating at Penrith from April, 1817. Whether the name was in use at this earlier date is as yet unknown.

Unlike nearby Castlereagh, Penrith was never a planned town but instead grew up around the early Court House and along the Great Western Highway. In attempting to explain why Penrith was named, the “Australian Encyclopedia” (Vol. VII 1965 edition, P. 52) relates that the English Penrith was also built on one long street, and that “circumstances may have suggested the adopting of the name for the New South Wales town, where the pattern of development, on either side of the Great Western Road, was similar”.

Historical Timeline

18041 FebruaryDaniel Woodriff granted 1000 acres which covered most of the present Penrith suburb
180612 SeptemberGovernor William Bligh reaffirmed orders preventing settlers from crossing the Nepean River
181424 JanuaryJohn Best Superintendent of Convicts at Norfolk Island was granted 470 acres south of the Great Western Road, known as Hornesywood Estate
1815JanuaryGreat Western Road (from Emu Ford to Parramatta) built through Woodriff grant by William Cox
181525 AprilGovernor Macquarie commenced his tour from Penrith to Bathurst over the newly built road
18241 JanuaryFirst horse race in Penrith was run between Peach Tree Creek and Parker Street
18288 JanuaryJohn Tindale purchased John Best's grant and built Hornesywood (near Penrith High School)
18281 MarchFirst Post Office opened at the Court House. Post Master was
Alexander Fraser
18326 AprilFirst Royal Mail coach service from Parramatta to Bathurst via Penrith
18328 SeptemberJohn MacHenry died. He owned land north of the railway line
183230 SeptemberFirst Court of Petty Sessions established
18346 SeptemberSarah MacHenry granted 100 acres in neighbourhood area of Lemongrove
183722 NovemberFoundation stone laid for St Stephen's Anglican Church
1838Provisions for Catholics to worship were provided for by the opening of the Catholic Church Parish of Penrith
183916 JulySt Stephen's Church was consecrated and the deeds handed over by John Tindale
183913 DecemberFoundation stone laid for St Nicholas of Myra Catholic Church in High Street
184429 JuneSir John Jamison died and was buried at St Stephen's Anglican Church
185013 NovemberArchbishop Polding opened the St Nicholas of Myra Catholic Church
18536 SeptemberSt Joseph's Convent School commenced on the corner of Evan and High Streets
18562 JanuaryFirst traffic bridge over the Nepean River opened. It was washed away in a flood the following year
185725 JulyGreat flood. Washed away the bridge over the Nepean River
186028 MarchTelegraph Office opened
186222 AprilFirst account opened at the Bank of New South Wales
186318 JanuaryPenrith railway station opened
186511 AprilFormal application for a National School at Penrith
18671 AprilVictoria Bridge opened. It carried a single line for both rail and
road traffic
187112 MayPenrith declared a municipality
188019 AprilPenrith Post Office built
18804 OctoberPenrith's third Court House opened. Demolished in 1978
18823 MarchFirst issue of Nepean Times newspaper
188526 JanuaryNew St Joseph's Convent School official opening which replaced
old school
189011 JanuarySergeant James Beatty of Penrith police was murdered while on duty in High Street
189030 AprilFoundation stone laid for Electric Light Station. Penrith was the third country town to have electricity
18932 MarchFirst Agricultural and Horticultural Show
19072 MayRailway Bridge opened over Nepean River. Victoria Bridge became road traffic only
191116 MarchNepean Picture Theatre opened in High Street
19114 NovemberWilliam Ewart Hart made the first cross country flight in Australia from Penrith to Parramatta Park, being 18 miles and taking 12 minutes
19159 November"Coo-ee" march through Penrith
19228 JulyMemory Park opened as a memorial to the fallen men and women during World War I
192416 OctoberNepean District Historical Society formed
192811 AprilNepean Rowing Club formed
193427 NovemberThe Duke of Gloucester's Royal Train stopped at Penrith
193810 SeptemberExplorers' Memorial erected by the citizens of Penrith
194416 FebruaryVolunteer Bush Fire Brigade formed
194819 AprilAn avenue of trees planted along the driveway of Penrith High School to commemorate servicemen of the two World Wars
19486 MayPenrith's first free Public Library opened in the School of Arts
194717 DecemberPenrith Press began
19491 JanuaryCastlereagh, Mulgoa, St. Marys and Penrith Shires amalgamated to form the Municipality of Penrith
19547 MarchCardinal Gilroy officially opens St Nicholas of Myra Catholic School
19558 OctoberFirst electric train to Penrith
19593 JuneFoundation stone laid for Council Chambers
195914 NovemberPenrith proclaimed a city
196216 NovemberPenrith T.A.F.E College opened
196326 AprilPenrith Court House opened
19646 MarchNew Penrith Library building opened in Henry Street
196730 AprilSt Nicholas of Myra Roman Catholic Church opened
197130 MarchPenrith Plaza opened
19734 JulyAnglican Parish Council considered demolishing St Stephen's Church
197314 JulyHumphrey B. Bear visited Penrith
19741 DecemberLast church service in Methodist Church Henry Street
1976St Joseph Convent demolished
197620 JuneRadio station 2KA opened in Borec House
198119 JanuaryPenrith Tourist Information Office opened to the public
198120 MayPenrith Police Station opened; the fourth station on the site
198110 JulyPenrith City Council Administrative Centre at 114 Henry Street opened
198417 AprilPenrith Panthers Club opened
198516 NovemberPenrith Mall officially opened by Premier Neville Wran
1989FebruaryPenrith High School takes first students as a selective high school
199331 AugustGrand opening of new Penrith Plaza refurbishment
19937 DecemberPenrith City Council's New Civic Centre opened for business
19948 JanuaryPenrith City Library opened for business in new Civic Centre
199612 SeptemberHigh Street reopened for traffic after the dismantling of the High
Street Mall
2000SeptemberPenrith hosted rowing, kayaking and canoeing at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games
2001DecemberHorrendous bushfires swept through Wallacia, Mulgoa, Glenmore Park, Emu Heights and Castlereagh
2002JanuaryBushfires continue
200224 January$6.4 million grant from the State Government to contribute to the $12 million upgrade of the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre
2018New ambulance station opens near Nepean Hospital
2018OctoberYandhai Nepean Crossing pedestrian bridge opens
2018November$842,000 upgrade of Penrith City Library begins
2019MarchPenrith Library refurbishment is completed
2019OctoberPenrith Council announces plan for a city park on the corner of Station and High Streets

Historic buildings & places

Combewood: Combewood was built for Francis Henry Woodriff in 1890, on land granted to Captain Daniel Woodriff in 1804. Built to plans prepared in 1880-1881, the house is a restrained and elegant English Queen Anne Villa. It retains much of its original detailing both internally and externally.combewood

Craithes: Craithes, also known as Cassola, was built in 1870 for Joseph Single. This gentlemen’s Victorian villa is set within a garden at the end of a peppercorn avenue. A tall palm, adjacent to the house, acts as a local landmark.

Cram Place: This two storey building was erected in 1879 as the CBC (Commercial) Bank. It was purchased in 1939 by solicitor John Cram and then by Penrith City Council in 1980. It stands as a well built and maintained example of late Victorian commercial premises. Much of the original detailing to the facade is still present. It would later become known as Morris House.


Kentucky: Noah Hollier purchased the land from the Woodriff estate in 1886 and the house was built sometime between 1886 and 1890. It remained in the Hollier family until 1928 when Noah’s wife died. It was then purchased by Percy Plunkett who lived there until 1965, when it was purchased by the Welch family. They sold it to GRID Developments Pty Ltd in 1987. A fire in November 1991 destroyed part of the house, however it was restored and became a restaurant.

kentuckyhouse                               photo by Percy Plunkett

Nepean Cottage Hospital: Penrith’s third hospital, was officially opened on 3 July 1895 by Samuel Lees. In 1926 the name of the hospital changed to Nepean District Hospital. The hospital closed in 1956 when a new hospital opened in Derby Street, Kingswood. The old hospital was remodelled and opened as Governor PhillipSpecial Hospital in 1962.


Kelvin Brae: Kelvin Brae was built around 1910 by Walter Judges, a pharmacist in Penrith. The clay bricks, used for the house, were made on the property.kelvin brae

Red Cow Inn: In 1865 Thomas Smith purchased two acres of land in Penrith and built The Red Cow Inn, transferring his licence from his original Red Cow Inn at Ropes Creek. In the early 1880s Smith opened the two storey Red Cow Inn.

red cow inn2

St Aubyns Terrace: This row of terrace houses is located opposite St Stephen the Martyr Anglican Church in High Street Penrith. They were built in 1886 by businessman John Brown who also built Carlton Terrace, once located to the west of St Aubyn’s Terrace.staubyns

Thornton Hall: Thornton Hall was built in the 1870’s by Thomas Smith who built the Red Cow Hotel. On his death the property was left to his son, Sydney Smith. Around 1910 it was leased to Henry Lack and became a dairy. By 1941 the whole house and site had been taken over by the Royal Army Engineers Depot. It was later subdivided into four acres and was sold by the Smith family to Read who then sold it to Strong. The Commonwealth Department of Defence compulsorily acquired it from Strong in 1951.thorntonhall

Penrith Speedway: The Western Suburbs Motor Cycle Club approached Sydney Smith for a loan of his paddocks, known as Belmore Park, situated to the west of Smith’s home, Thornton Hall.  Six thousand people attended its first meet. The last meeting of the Speedway was held in May 1941.

penrith speedway

The area underwent major redevelopment in the 2010s, with a whole new suburb, Thornton, emerging.

thornton beforephoto by Maverick Drafting

thornton afterphoto by Maverick Drafting

Torin Building: The Torin Corporation factory building on Coombes Drive is of historical significance for its association with American renowned architect Marcel Breuer who was commissioned to design all nine Torin factories throughout the world, including the one at Penrith. Breuer died in New York in 1981, making the Torin Corporation factory in Penrith his last major piece of architectural work. It was built by Harry Seidler. It was used at one time as the Panthers Rugby League team complex. The building is Breuer’s only Australian project.


Victoria Bridge: The Victoria Bridge was completed in 1869 with the northern lane carrying rail traffic and the southern lane used for road traffic. This iron box girder bridge has been used exclusively as a road bridge since 1907 when the adjacent railway bridge was completed.victoriabridge

Yandhai Nepean Crossing Pedestrian Bridge: The footbridge opened in 2018. The name Yandhai means walking in the path of past and present and reflects the use of the river by the Darug people. Nepean identifies the location of the bridge and Crossing signifies the purpose of the bridge.

yandhaiphoto by RMS


For photos and more information on Penrith search Penrith City Library’s catalogue using an All Resources search.


  • Murray, Robert and White, Kate Dharug & Dungaree: The History of Penrith and St Marys to 1860. Penrith City Council, Penrith, 1988.
  • Nepean District Historical Society, From Castlereagh to Claremont Meadows: Historical Places of Penrith City Council, Penrith, 1997.
  • Parr, Lorna, A History of the Nepean and District Street Names, Nepean District Historical Society, Penrith, 1990.
  • Parr, Lorna, Penrith Calendar, Nepean District Historical Society, 1987.
  • Stacker, Lorraine, Pictorial History: Penrith & St Marys, Kingsclear Books, Alexandria, 2002.
  • Stevenson, Colin R., Place Names and their Origins within the City of Penrith, Penrith City Council, Penrith, 1985.
  • Stickley, Christine, The Old Charm of Penrith, 2nd ed., the author, St. Marys, 1984.