Fifteen students from five schools across Sydney have retraced the steps of one of Parramatta’s greatest success stories, Sir James Martin, today – walking from Parramatta Square to Sydney’s Martin Place.
The students – from Parramatta High School, Riverside Girls High School, Marsden High School, Sydney Secondary College Balmain, and Conservatorium High School – replicated the journey of Martin, who in the 1830s used to walk from his home in Parramatta to Sydney so he could go to high school.
A penniless Irish boy, Martin went on to become Premier of NSW, Chief Justice and was a key architect of the country’s first system of public education.
“Almost 200 years ago, a 12-year old James Martin set out from his home in Parramatta and walked to school in the Sydney CBD. Even as a young boy, he knew that education was the key to unlocking a brighter future. James went on to serve as Premier three times and also served as the Chief Justice of NSW,” said NSW Deputy Premier, Prue Car, who farewelled the group on their journey, alongside Opposition leader, Mark Speakman and City of Parramatta Lord Mayor, Pierre Esber.
“We should never forget that one of Sydney’s most recognised boulevards is named after a kid from Parramatta,” Mayor Esber said.
“James Martin rose from the humblest of beginnings to the highest ranks of the State government – all because of his determination and love of learning, traits that are part of our City’s DNA.”
Co-founder of The Lysicrates Foundation, Dr Patricia Azarias, which partnered with the NSW Department of Education to host the walk, said the event aimed to inspire a new generation of kids from Western Sydney.
“Everyone needs a hero they can look up to,” Dr Azarias said.
“This is about every kid in Western Sydney realising they too can grow up to be Premier or Chief Justice and make their mark on the State or achieve whatever it is they want to do.”