Recreational, sport and leisure pursuits are much prized moments of our life particularly in Western Sydney. They are often the moments and experiences in people's lives that are recalled with the greatest fondness. Recreation is, "...refreshment by means of some pastime, agreeable exercise or the like...a pastime, diversion, exercise or other resource affording relaxation and enjoyment." (Macquarie Dictionary 1991)
From the early days of European settlement, much time has been occupied with making a living off the land, or in the employment of local businesses or, during the twentieth century, much further afield, 'in the city'. Children were often employed locally from an early age, leaving little time to enjoy themselves and have some fun. Their leisure time was often spent on low cost activities such as the Saturday afternoon movie matinee, swimming, fancy dress parades or wandering through the bush.. "Time off" was often considered the domain of the gentry, who had the money and the time to pursue their leisure activities and social life to the full. Yet leisure is an important aspect of our lives, giving us a chance to revitalise our physical and emotional well being. Our choice of recreational activities is also often a cultural indicator, pointing to our family heritage, customs and traditions.
In Western Sydney, our sport and leisure pursuits have been most profoundly influenced not only by our diverse cultural heritage but by the geography of our region. Rivers, bushland and mountainous terrain have provided four breathtaking rivers (Georges, Nepean, Hawkesbury and Parramatta Rivers) and prolific bushland and mountainous settings for the recreational activities of Western Sydney. It is the environmental beauty of Western Sydney that is a common element, providing a stunning setting for the leisure activities that have prevailed. The Blue Mountains loom along the western edge of Sydney and have provided a panoramic setting for city residents and mountain dwellers in which to enjoy bushwalking, picnicking, swimming or often convalescing, for well over a century. This recreational playground is only now being nominated for its World Heritage potential. Up until 1813 the mountains were seen merely as a physical barrier to the expansion of European settlement, with the Europeans unable to trek across the terrain successfully.
It is the environment of Western Sydney that has also seen us selected as the host of the millennium Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Not only is the main Olympic Stadium situated at Homebush Bay, but many of the Olympic events were staged at venues throughout Western Sydney. These include rowing events on the Nepean River and rifle events at Liverpool.
The cultural diversity of Western Sydney is reflected in the number of new leisure activities now enjoyed that last century were unheard of. Many nineteenth century pursuits enjoyed across Western Sydney such as pugilism or cock fighting have become anachronisms. Since the end of World War Two great areas of Western Sydney have been transformed from rural and agricultural districts to densely populated urban areas. This urbanisation has influenced the nature of leisure and heralded the introduction of many organised forms of leisure and team sports. With the influx of migrants to this part of Sydney, during this same period, the cultural mix of leisure activities has also been greatly enhanced. Few if any residents would have played the Italian game of Bocce in Fairfield last century!
We have divided the enormous topic of Sport and Leisure into the following sub sections:
For specific information about each area in the greater Western Sydney region contact the relevant Local Studies Librarian or browsethe site via the links on the right