Historic Hawkesbury - Australia's Third Settlement
Discovered in 1789, the Hawkesbury Region was one of the
earliest colonial settlements in Australia, and many of the
buildings since those days have survived in the region creating
a "time capsule" of Australian colonial history.
Since 1794, when the first 22 settlers arrived to farm their
30 acres, the area has been supplying fresh produce to Sydney
and this continues right up to today, with many of the descendants
from the first settlers still working and living in the district.
Take a walk around Windsor and you will see Colonial buildings
still being used for its' original purposes. The Macquarie
Arms Hotel, first licensed in 1815 is still serving drinks
to thirsty travellers. St Matthew's Catholic Church, built
in 1840 runs the oldest Catholic School in Australia. If you
have a brush with the law, your fate will still be decided
at the Sir Francis Greenway designed Windsor Court House,
built in 1822, or you could do your penance at another Francis
Greenway structure, St Matthews Anglican Church built in 1817.
The narrow streets around Windsor are full of examples of
the type of houses which prevailed in the 1840's, most being
still used as residential homes.
On the Eastern side of Windsor is Thompson Square, named
after Andrew Thompson, an early pioneer that came to Australia
as a convict and later became a magistrate. The Hawkesbury
Historical Society holds occasional re-enactment activities
here, and for further information Tel: 4577 2310.
On the other side of Windsor on Palmer Street is the Tebbutt
Observatory, built in 1879. Here, John Tebbutt contributed
to early pioneer astronomy and some of his observations and
sightings are recognized worldwide.
Just five minutes away from Windsor is the town of Richmond,
where there are an abundant number of historical buildings.
The Richmond School of Arts is still administered as an entertainment
venue by the same society established in 1861. The building
was opened by the then Premier Of NSW, Sir Henry Parkes, Father
of the Federation.
Apart from the historical churches, post office building
and courthouse, there are a number of Victorian mansions still
in their full glory. These can be seen along March Street,
West Market Street and Windsor Street, most are still used
as private residences.
Within the Hawkesbury Region, it is not only the major towns
where colonial buildings abound. A drive along the countryside
will reveal more. At some remote areas such as St Albans and
Wiseman's Ferry some of the heritage buildings now offer lodging
to visitors. The Settlers Arms Inn at St Albans, built in
1842 has been restored as a popular drinking hole and is once
again attracting visitors from far and wide despite being
accessible only by car ferry and 20km of unsealed road.
Take a drive north-east of Windsor and you will come across
Australia's oldest church in Ebenezer. The Ebenezer Uniting
Church has been a place of worship for the Presbyterians since
1809 and is still holding services every Sunday at 8am. On
the same grounds is the Schoolmaster's House built in 1817
which is now beautifully preserved as a museum with a girl
and pioneer girl shop. Outside, in its parkland setting, the
local volunteers will serve you Devonshire Teas and with advance
notice, they will even organize a BBQ or sandwich lunch. Open
every day from loam to 3.30pm, it is located at Coromandel
Road, Ebenezer (off Tizzana Road). For more information telephone
(02) 4579 9350 or (02) 4576 3449 (ah).
Meet David and Katherine - but only if you have the sixth
sense - for they have been inhabiting the area since 1830.
Janice Hart's Ghost Tours will prove to you that
Colonial History really has a presence. The tour runs every
Saturday evening or by charter and takes you around some historically
significant areas around Windsor. Janice's lively, informative
and perhaps a little bawdy commentary will give you a whole
new perspective to Australian history. Arrive with a pair
of good walking shoes and you will be armed with a citronella
oil lamp and lead into the darker side Windsor. If you dare
not step into the "other side", then perhaps you
would prefer the Historic Hot Spots Tour during the day
time. Booking is necessary on (02) 4575 1421 (phone).
Tangible history is also served for the whole family at Hawkesbury
Heritage Farm at Rose Street, Wilberforce. Amongst 30 acres
of parkland setting are over 24 authentic 1800's buildings
recreating a town of bygone days. There is also a collection
of antique farm machineries and sheep shearing, whip cracking,
sheep dogs, horse carriage rides and "pony" rides
on Clydesdale horses. There are picnic grounds with BBQ facilities
and a restaurant. Open 10am-spm, Thursday to Sunday or by
booking on other days. Tel: 4575 1457.
About 15 minutes south east of Windsor is Rouse Hill Estate
which has been preserved through six generations and 180
of continuous occupation by one family - the Rouses and Terrys.
At the heart of the property lies a neo-classical sandstone
dwelling built between 1813 and 1818 by convict labourers.
You can trace their chequered history as you journey through
the Georgian house and its eclectic furnishings, roam around
the oldest surviving garden in Australia and venture through
the Horbury Hunt stables. Due to the fragile nature of this
site, visitors can only view the property via a guided tour
which is 90 minutes in duration. Clothing and footwear for
a rural ramble are strongly advised. Rouse Hill Estate is
open Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday 10am-2pm. Located on
Guntawong Road (off Windsor Road), Rouse Hill 2155. Booking
is essential by telephoning (02) 9627 6777. Please note the
property is closed December, January and February and Good
For those visitors who truly want to ensconce themselves
in history, there are many Guesthouses and Bed & Breakfasts
established in heritage buildings in the area.