Just a few kilometres north-west of Parramatta, about 28km north-west of Sydney’s CBD, Northmead is set on a sandstone ridge, providing great views across the Parramatta area. In the early 1800s, a great deal of this district was given over to convict farming settlements, and convicts built a lot of the fabulous old buildings which still exist in and around Parramatta. Visitors to Sydney can catch a magic aspect of one of the world’s great waterways and its attendant suburbs by hopping the rivercat catamarans which operate between inner-Sydney and Parramatta. You can break the cruise at Homebush to take in the wonder of the complex which was the focus of the universe during the Sydney Olympics. Mind you, at least a day should be set aside to do justice to a visit to the Olympic site and its environmental park. Much of the park is set in expansive stands of mangroves which visitors can explore by way of the extensive network of boardwalks.