Hawkesbury Regional Museum


Hawkesbury Regional Museum: (33° 36′ 18″S, 150° 49′ 21″E) guided heritage walks and exhibits on indigenous heritage of the Darug people and the European built environment dating back to the earliest days of the colony. Located at 8 Baker Street, Windsor, NSW (+61 2 4560 4655). Windsor is about 27 km due west of the Great North Walk.

The Great North Walk Companion extract- pages 55-56

Turning our backs on the yellow lilies that certainly demand a photo even if they aren’t too appetizing, we climb again turning frequently to survey the Hawkesbury. This river became a major trade route linking the British farming communities in this area to the colonists who, from 1790, were struggling to maintain the viability of the new colony at Sydney Cove. The colony’s first governor, Arthur Phillip, made an urgent search for fertile land from which to replenish the new colony’s dwindling supplies of food. The Hawkesbury Valley was thoroughly explored from Broken Bay to the site of present-day Windsor, but evidence of very destructive flooding prevented Phillip from consenting to land grants in the area.
“So — they have five kids and live on birds and eggs and odd root veggies,” my companion interrupts my contemplation. “Don’t they talk to the locals?”
“They must have done, to trade, if for no other reason. We know trade was very effective among indigenous groups around that time, and probably from much earlier. For example, the early colonists record their surprise that hats and beads given to the Aborigines at Port Jackson had been traded north to the Aborigines in the Brisbane Water area. By the way, I ought to mention another of those ‘where the name comes from’ snippets.” Although this is greeted with a sigh, I persevere. “The Brisbane Water National Park, one of the oldest national parks in NSW, was named in 1959 for Sir Thomas Brisbane, Governor of NSW from 1821 to 1825. In another part of our walk we’ll pass into and out of it, more than once as it encompasses more than 12,000 hectares.”
“Yeah — but wasn’t it called Brisbane Water earlier — was it?”
“Captain Arthur Phillip actually named it the North-East Arm but its name, the water not the park then, was changed to Brisbane Water to honour the sixth governor of the colony, Sir Thomas Brisbane.”
“So there were fairly friendly relations between indigenous people around this region and the invaders?”
“Well, the story is told and re-told of what the British still called ‘natives’ being impressed that Phillip had a missing front tooth. This is said to have made him look a little like their warriors who, as part of their initiation rite, had a front tooth knocked out. On the other hand, the same old problem of new diseases having a devastating impact appeared here too. Between the August 1788 visit of Governor Phillip to Ettalong Beach when ‘very many natives’ were reported and his return trip the following year, on which the Hawkesbury River was found and named, when ‘very few were seen’, it is believed that a smallpox epidemic had decimated the local population.

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