Walking Tours - General info
The Windsor and Richmond Walking Tours will take you on a leisurely strole through the history of the area.
The Hawkesbury River was first explored by Governor Philip in 1798 in an effort to find suitable farming land to feed the starving colony in Sydney. Governor Philip did not have the resources to begin a settlement on the fertile river land he discovered and named it Hawkesbury. However, by 1794 twenty two settlers had taken up land grants on the banks of the Hawkesbury near South Creek.
Governor Hunter reported in 1796 that there were 1,000 acres under cultivation in the district. Crops flourished in the rich alluvial soil and the area became known as the "Granary of the Colony" because of the large amounts of wheat and maize grown there.
The area around the present town of Windsor was known as Green Hills when in 1810 Governor Macquarie founded and named the townships that are now called "The Five Macquarie Towns" - Windsor, Richmond, Wilberforce, Pitt Town and Castlereagh. Each was established on high ground so the inhabitants could avoid the repeated floods that had devastated the early settlements.
Windsor and Richmond were so named because they reminded Governor Macquarie of those areas bearing the same name in England. Castlereagh was named in honour of Lord Viscount Castlereagh, Pitt Town in honour of the memory of William Pitt, the man who originally planned the colony, and Wilberforce after the patriot and humanist William Wilberforce.
Produce from the Hawkesbury farms was sent to Sydney by boat and so quite early a new industry evolved on the banks of the river. Boat building flourished for many years and in 1817 a wharf capable of taking 300 ton vessels was built at Windsor.
Many large vessels were built between Richmond and Pitt Town on the Hawkesbury River, some of which sailed to New Zealand to take part in the sealing trade. Vessels big and small plied the Hawkesbury until the silting of the channel in early 1880's prevented larger vessels from using the river. Steam ships entered the river trade as early as 1893 and carried virtually all the produce - including atone fruit, maize and melons - down river to the Sydney markets.
The flood plains of the Hawkesbury have always provided rich alluvial soil which in the early days of settlement supported crops of wheat, maize and corn. Today, many market gardens can still be found on these same fertile flats alongside the turf farms that cater for the more recent need for "instant lawns". Fruit has been grown in the Hawkesbury since early times and the proximity of Sydney ensures a ready market.
The first road to the district, which was hacked from the bush in 1794, was little more than a track. The Old Windsor Road closely follows this original route. In 1797 a road was constructed from Parramatta to the Hawkesbury. The Bells Line of Road follows the route taken by Archibald Bell Jr. when he crossed the mountains in 1823.
Fortunately, the opening of railway to Windsor and Richmond in 1864 gave the settlers another link with Sydney and an alternative way to send their produce.
Dairying became one of the major industries in the late 1880's and there are still a number of dairy farms operating today.
Another important industry was horsebreeding. At the time they were bread mainly for racing and for work purposes. Today horsebreeding still goes on in the area but mostly for recreation.
This tour takes you through two centuries of white settlement in the Hawkesbury District. To get the most from this guide, we recommend you do your exploring on foot.
The walks through Richmond and Windsor offer views of the surrounding rural landscape while leading you into the past of these two Australian towns. The many historic buildings will give you insights into the events and personalities which shaped their history. The stories of Andrew Thompson, William Coz, Richard Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Rouse, John Howe, James Ruse, John Grono, Lachlan Macquarie and John Tebbut, to name only a few, are bound inexorably to the story of the Hawkesbury District.
If you only have half an hour, or half a day, there is a walk or combination of walks to suit you.