Hawkesbury Valley Walking Tours - Windsor
All walks start/finish at the Pioneers Memorial in Thompson Square
The walk is divided into two sections. The first section covers points 1 to 13 and will take approximately 75 minutes to complete without stops.
The second section covering points 14 - 29 will take approximately 90 minutes to complete.
Points of Interest in Windsor
Thompson Square is the centre of one of the earliest settled districts in Australia. Its collection of colonial buildings has remained largely intact since being built in the period between 1815 and 1880.
The Square was refurbished as a Bicentennial project, ensuring that it remains a tribute to the pioneers of the district. The anchor at the top of the Square on the Pioneer Families Bicentennial Memorial is an appropriate symbol for the districts early days. It serves as a reminder that the majority of craft that plied the Hawkesbury River were made or sailed by local pioneers for the transport of the life-saving grain grown by other Hawkesbury pioneers.
Together, these early Hawkesbury settlers ensured the survival of the colony of NSW. This monument contains plaques listing pioneer families who in 1988 contributed to the cost of erecting this to all Hawkesbury pioneers.
Andrew Thompson arrived in NSW as a convict but after a period of time, during which he was a constable of "Green Hills" he became a rich emancipist land owner and entrepreneur, running a store on land he leased in the Square from 1799. Governor Macquarie made Thompson a magistrate just prior to Thompsons death in 1810.
Standing at the monument, look towards the main commercial centre. At the corner of the Square is...
1. Macquarie Arms
This hotel, the oldest building in Thompson Square, owes its origin directly to Governor Macquarie. In his journal of January 12 1811 he wrote "I gave Mr Fitzgerald a large allotment in the Square on the express condition of his building immediately thereon a handsome commodious Inn of brick or stone and to be at least two storeys high". Although the oldest Inn in Australia (1815) it has not continuously operated as such. It was used as a private home from 1840 to 1873. Note the verandahs stone flagging and the cedar joinery and doors. Later additions mask the original architecture, but much remains of interest.
Richard Fitzgerald, having been transported to NSW as a convict, rose to hold government positions, including superintendent of convicts and works at Windsor. He built the inn and a cottage for his family next door (where the present day Fitzgerald House stands). On his death in 1840 he was one of the Hawkesbury's richest residents.
A plaque on the wall of the hotel, near the Hawkesbury Museum, denotes the height of the great flood of 1867, the greatest flood recorded in the district. The wall to which the plaque is affixed was made of bricks rejected from ST Matthews Church of England is Moses Street.
Start to walk down towards the Hawkesbury River. Next to the Macquarie Arms is the...
2. Hawkesbury Museum
This is a brick, two storey Georgian building. Its iron balustrading was added during the Victorian period. Originally, the building had a shingle roof.
Recent archaeological evidence shows that the present museum building was erected in the 1820's on John Howe's allotment. Later it was known as Coffey's Inn and, later still, the Daniel O'Connell Inn. The land was part of an allotment made in 1811 to Howe, who was Chief Constable at Windsor from 1812 to 1821 and a man of some standing in early Windsor.
In 1876 it was sold to George Davies a printer who published the Australian until the 1890's. The building was brought by the now Hawkesbury City Council some years ago and houses the Museum of the Hawkesbury Historical Society. Interesting displays depict materials and lifestyles from the areas past. The museum is also a tourist information centre and is open for the public inspection.
Nestled between the larger two storey building is...
3. Number 5 Thompson Square
A delightful little cottage built around 1850, it was acquired by the State Planning Authority and restored. It is now privately owned.
To the river side of the cottage is...
4. The Doctors House
So called because doctors have occupied parts of it since 1876. The site was originally occupied by an inn called The Lord Nelson which was built in 1819. The present building was constructed in 1844 and is one of the finest examples of a colonial terrace building in Australia. Of architectural note are the fanlights above the two main doors, the columns flanking each side of these doorways, the sandstone verandahs, the delicate wrought-iron railings and its bricks, which are ruddy and mellow with age.
Continuing towards the river, follow the roadway as we temporarily leave Thompson Square. Cross over the Terrace and turn right onto the walkway. This will take you via a set of stairs under the busy Windsor-Singleton roadway and beside the river. A you emerge from under the bridge, Windsor Wharf can be seen. It was from this wharf that much of the produce was sent to the parent colony in Sydney. Today, the wharf is used fro pleasure craft which carry tourists along the river. Walk up the hill to re-enter Thompson Square. On your left will be...
5. Number 6 Thompson Square
Built around 1860, this cottage was also restored during the Bicentennial year. Originally it had a high pitched shingle roof.
At the crest of the hill on the corner of George Street is...
6. Number 10 Thompson Square
Built in 1856 this largely unaltered building was restored in 1988. It was the residence of Dr Joshua Dowe before becoming a school. The Sate member for Hawkesbury, Brinsley Hall, lived here in the early 1900's.
Subsequently, the building became a maternity hospital, and again a private residence.
One of the main features is the delicate wrought iron balustrading and columns, which were quite old fashioned for the period.
Cross George Street and directly in front of you is the...
7. School of Arts
On the site of the old government store, the Italianate style School of Arts was built in 1861. This was used as a community centre until 1947 when it was sold, and has since been used as a boot factory.
Walk along the residential section of George Street. Near the junction of Arndell Street on the left is the site of the...
8. Old Government House
There is a sign erected to mark the house built in the 1790's for the commanding officer of the Windsor garrison.
Turn into Arndell Street. At the end, you'll see a number of interesting buildings. On the right is the Courthouse which we will walk back to shortly. On the left are the...
9. North Street Cottages
These houses were built between 1840 an 1860 and provide an excellent example of the streetscape of Windsor in this period. Examples are rare now, partly because many of the central blocks of Windsor were destroyed by fire in 1874.
The building on the corner was a former inn, once known as the Courthouse Inn because of its close proximity to the Windsor Courthouse, but known locally as The Swallows Inn. Under the eaves are the nests of the fairy martins who nest here in spring and summer.
The building will be recognised by viewers of "A Country Practice" as the surgery of Dr Terrrence Elliot.
Number 35 North Street is the inly weatherboard cottage in the row,
Numbers 33 and 31 - although two dwellings today - were once a single building and probably another inn. The shingled roof was recently added to resemble the original.
Numbers 29 and 27, a cottage of sandstone, brick adds character top the streetscape. The brickwork shows the method of brickmaking during the period: twigs and grass were used as part of the brick which was scorched black during the firing. These bricks were used for all but the most important civic buildings.
Numbers 25 and 23 are semi-detached cottages. The roof of these dwellings is a feature commonly known as a jerkin-head roof and it provided shelter for families during times of flood - an important feature, given that the Hawkesbury is prone to regular flooding.
Walking down the North Street offers a rural panorama. The area directly in front of you is the site of the first farms in the colony. The buildings of Pitt Town can be seen in the distance. Turn right into Palmer Street. After crossing Pitt Street you pass one of the many turf farms of the area. Continue along Palmer Street and turn left at the letter boxes for...
10. John Tebbutt F.R.A.S. Observatories
There are a number of buildings on the site. The first observatory built in 1863 has been demolished. By using a transit instrument, Tebbutt was able to establish local mean time. The second observatory (the circular building) was built in 1874 to accommodate a larger telescope and finally the striking square building was built in 1879.
Tebbutt himself became one of the worlds most accomplished amateur astronomers. He was a "gentleman farmer" who maintained a passion for astronomy. He discovered the "Great Comet of 1861" and "Comet Tebbutt of 1881" as well as many other important meteorological phenomena. In 1873, Tebbutt was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. The International Astronomical Union honoured Tebbutt in 1973, some 57 years after his death, by naming a Luna crater "The Tebbutt Crater". In 1984 he was depicted on the $100 note. The observatories are still owned by his great grandson John Halley Tebbutt. He and his family live in the original home built in 1845. Great grandson Tebbutt has restored the observatories which house items of scientific interest. They are open to the public.
Retrace your steps back to Pitt Street and turn left. South Creek will be to your left, along with a panorama of the McGraths Hill lowlands. At the corner of Court Street will be...
11. Windsor Courthouse
Built in 1822, this building was designed by the convict architect Francis Greenway, who is featured on the $10 note. The courthouse was once cement rendered, but this was removed in 1960. The bricks beneath were cleaned to reveal the original brickwork. Further plans exist to expose the delightful internal red cedar joinery. Even the blinds are made of red cedar.
Hanging in the public gallery inside the courthouse is a portrait of Governor Macquarie. The picture used to hang above the ,magistrates chair, but during one particularly rowdy public meeting it was damaged when an egg was thrown at the speaker in the courtroom. The painting was taken away, repaired and hung in the public gallery for safety.
The courthouse is still in use today and holds interesting records of the colonial era in Windsor. When court is not in session, it is possible to enter the building for an inspection.
Nearby in Court Street toward the Police Station is a sign which acknowledges the...
12. Site of the Old Gaol
The gaol was erected in 1859 and demolished in 1936. It was surrounded by high walls, on top of which was broken glass.
At the end of Court Street a concrete footpath runs off to the left toward South Creek. Following it you will find...
13. The Tollhouse
The likelihood of flooding of site has made the restoration of the tollhouse very difficult. However it remains an interesting reminder of a past era. A tollhouse was built here in 1814, but the premises collapsed during a flood in 1864. The present building was re-erected on the sandstone foundations in the same year and was used to collect tolls until 1887. The three sided bay window in from t was designed for easy observation of the road. Early charges were one chilling for a four wheeled carriage with two horses.
Walk back up the path and cross the road to the police station. In front of you is the...
14. Site of the Guardhouse
These brick foundations belonged to the guardhouse, built around 1830 for the military barracks which had been built in 1818 on the site of the present police station. The foundations were unearthed by roadworks in 1976 and preserved.
The guardhouse consisted of three small cells which were used to confine soldiers who had breached military rules and a passageway leading to the guardroom which was entered by a flight of steps from outside. The guardhouse was the gateway to the military barracks. The soldier on duty was responsible for opening and closing the 2.5 metre high gates. The military barracks were surrounded by a 4 metre wall which partly exists today, although much reduced in height. The Barracks were demolished in 1928 to make way for the present police station buildings.
At the traffic lights, cross the main road and then walk up the hill to again re-enter Thompson Square. Should you wish to continue, walk along George Street as far as the entrance to the Mall and turn right into Baker Street. Head toward the river and cross the Terrace to follow the path which meanders through the leafy groves beside the river. Between Kable and Fitzgerald Streets are the grounds of...
Sunnybrae was built in 1875 and today remains in the same family. It is an impressive home set in expansive gardens. A closer view of the home and stables can be obtained by walking up Fitzgerald Street.
Directly opposite Sunnybrae is...
16. The Water Tower
Still in use today, the tower was in integral part of the first water supply for Windsor. It was constructed in 1889 and has a capacity of about one million litres.
Back on the Terrace, the paved walkway ceases near the concrete tower. Walk across the park following the line of power poles to rejoin the western sector of the Terrace. At the corner of New Street turn left to view...
17. New Street Buildings
Built around 1830, the two cottages at Number 1 and Number 7 have been restored and are well maintained.
The Anglican St Matthews Hall was built in 1880 to replace an earlier hall located in George Street,
Retrace your steps back to the Terrace and turn left. Built on a large block on your left is...
This was once the home of William Walker who was a local politician and lawyer. The house was built in 1851. The coach house and stables give some indication of the wealth of the family. Today, the house remains in the ownership of the same family.
Turn into Catherine Street. On the corner of Little Church Street is a charming building...
19. The Bell Inn
Built around 1845, the Bell Inn was operated by John Primrose and continued as an inn untold the impact of the railway took business from the area. The building is in very good condition and shows a typical 8inn of the period. Note the window shutters which are of a solid rather than louvred construction. Also of interest is the front doorway, which is placed on a barrelled corner. This has the effect of making the building "follow round" the corner. It was a commonly used technique on corner shops and inns.
Nearby buildings also provide interesting examples of early houses, with some terraces and a duplex being represented.
At the end of Little Church Street on the left is...
20. The Rectory
A delightful complement to St Matthews Anglican church. The Rectory - Georgian in style - was built in 1825 by William Cox to the plan of an unknown architect. William Cox had shortly before built the Windsor Courthouse (see No 10.) and built the first road over the Blue Mountains in 1814. The Rev Samuel Marsden - often referred to as "the flogging parson" - frequently journeyed top Windsor to conduct services in the early days of the colony. In 1838 he died at the rectory while visiting Windsor. His body was taken to Parramatta for burial.
A little further along on the right is the grand...
22. St Matthews Anglican Church
Here is the very heart of colonial Hawkesbury. Built at Governor Macquarie's direction on a site selected for that specific purpose, it is one of the most beautiful buildings in Australia. The corner stone was laid by Governor Macquarie in October 1817. The church was consecrated in December 1822 with Samuel Marsden conducting the opening service. It is the masterpiece of Francis Greenway, the convict architect, who was retained by Governor Macquarie to rectify the poor standard of building in the colony. It is one of the few early buildings which is cluttered by its modern surroundings. It can be seen from a great many parts of the Hawkesbury, and is the district's famous landmark. In the 1867 flood it was the chief point of safety for flood victims.
Even older than then church is the graveyard. The earliest marked grave in Andrew Thompsons who died in 1810. There are a number of other graves of prominent pioneers, including a number who sailed to Australia with the First Fleet. These graves are identified by a small plaque. William Cox is also buried here, and of particular interest is the Tebbut family vault, with its astrological features on each corner.
Continue walking past the graveyard and into Claremont Crescent. A narrow laneway ahead will lead you down to the well hidden...
23. Claremont Cottage
Built in the same years as St Matthews, Claremont Cottage has been owned by prominent locals. These include William Cox, Francis Beddeck, the Chaselings family and Philip Charley. The cottage has been restored during the past decade.
Retrace your steps to the corner of Moses Street and Claremont Crescent. Turn right into Moses Street and cross the busy Richmond Road. Continue ahead into Cox Street and then turn right into Fairfield Avenue. At the end you will find...
Fairfield is a splendid example of high Victoriana. The first part of the house to be built was occupied by William Cox in 1833. William McQuade built the two storey section in the early 1880's. It was designed for entertainment on a large scale and McQuade who was manager of Her Majestys Theatre in Sydney at that time, did it full justice. The grounds included a cricket oval, a pavilion and a private track.
Retrace your steps along Fairfield Avenue, cross over Cox Street and walk along Brabyn Street until you reach George Street. Turn left into George Street. A little way along the right is...
25. Number 394 George Street
Built in 1897 as a general store by George Robertson. Its ornate stonework was carved by an immigrant named O'Kelly who apparently enjoyed the sight of his handiwork so much that he bought the house opposite.
Continue along George Street, crossing Richmond Street at the lights. There are a number of buildings of interest in George Street. The second building on your right is...
26. Oxalis Cottage
The cottage stands between the Hawkesbury City Council Chambers and the library. It was built by Peter Turner, a Wesleyan missionary. Turner died in the cottage in 1873. His second cottage, which stood adjacent, was demolished.
Further along George Street on the right is...
27. Number 312 George Street
The building is often referred to as "Mrs Cope's Cottage" as it was once the home of Maria Cope. It stood on extensive grounds before they were subdivided in 1839. Many houses in the immediate are can therefore be dated in the 1840's One of these is...
28. Number 265 George Street
This was a former inn built of Georgian style sandstock brocks in 1841.
Opposite is number 266 George Street, better known today as...
29. The Windsor Antique Markets
The extensive market is housed in the old Royal Theatre.
Continue walking up George Street and you will enter...
30. Windsor Mall
Windsor Mall is a pedestrian precinct which stretches for two blocks through the main commercial centre of Windsor. At the eastern end of the Mall is a waterwheel which symbolises the importance of agriculture to the region and in particular grain crops. These crops were often milled in tidal powered mills. While the tide was rising, water would flow into a reservoir and be held until the miller was ready. As the tide dropped, water would run past a wheel which was linked to a grinding block.
There are a number of renovated buildings in the mall and the environment provides a pleasant mixture of old and new. By looking above the street level awnings, many of the original building facades can be seen.
Of particular interest is Loder House, which today houses a restaurant. The home was built in 1834 by George Loder, a member of the influential Windsor district family. After Georges death the house was occupied by Laban White until 1873.
In the later years the building deteriorated and was used as a boarding house. By the 1960's, the building was derelict. Salvation came in the mid 1970's when a three year restoration program was supervised by the then Windsor Shire Council.
As you leave the mall, one block ahead of you will be Thompson Square and the completion of the Windsor Walking Tour.
The department of Planing and Tourism Hawkesbury Inc hope you have enjoyed your tour of these two historic towns and that you'll return to the Hawkesbury area often.