In the shadows of the Blue Mountains and on the banks of the wide Nepean River on the western fringe of Sydney’s metropolitan area, about 54 km by road from the city, Penrith owes its initial settlement in about 1815 to the construction of a road up into the mountains.
Probably reflecting the belligerence of the convicts pressed into the arduous task of building the road, Penrith’s first official buildings were a court house and a gaol.
Today you can enjoy the well-preserved colonial architecture in this historic town which has a population of more than 150,000 or take a paddle steamer tour on the river into the Nepean Gorge, about 20km upstream.
The Arms of Australia Inn History Museum on the corner of the Great Western Highway and Gardenia Avenue at Emu Plains presents a colourful slant on Penrith's heritage.
Warragamba Dam, lynch-pin of Sydney's water supply system, is just to the west of Penrith, while the western city is only a short, pleasant drive from the scenic villages and lookouts of the Blue Mountains.