Penrith is the last (or first) of the five ‘identity’ towns of Sydney; the others being Windsor, Richmond, Parramatta and Campbelltown. Perhaps because of history these towns have never believed they are part of the burbs of Sydney. Quite amazing really. But Penrith has succumbed totally to the developer hammer. Don’t look for any heritage here. If there is heritage, that will have come by accident.
Penrith was named after the town of Penrith in England. One theory is that in the early days, development in Penrith was entirely on one road, like the English Penrith, and someone familiar with both spotted the similarity and suggested the name. The earliest known written reference to the name Penrith dates back to 1819.
Watkin Tench was the first British explorer to visit the area in 1789 and named the Nepean River after Lord Evan Nepean. Initial settlement in the area was unplanned but substantial enough for a courthouse to be established in 1817. (since demolished). There are a few old buildings.
The post office was established in 1828, the Anglican Church, St Stephens, was built in 1844. Really impressive. Then followed by the Catholic Church, St Nicholas of Myra, in 1850. (since demolished) The United is a modern building.
The first bridge was opened over the Nepean in 1856 and was washed away the following year in a flood. The railway line was extended to Penrith in 1863, a school was established in 1865 and in 1871 the area became a municipality.
There is no need for the traveler to visit Penrith; but that said a look at the finished War Memorial (sorry Memory Park) may be worth the effort.