Thursday, 17 July 2014

Mayor's Speech at the unveiling of the Yarramundi Memorial in Macquarie Park

Delivered by the Mayor of Hawkesbury City Cr Rex Stubbs on 27 March 1999


Australia is a hostile continent. It has been the home of Indigenous Australians for over 50,000 years. Here they perfected an environmentally sustainable society tens of thousands of years before Western civilisation became even vaguely aware that it was desirable.

Australia is also an island continent. This relative isolation protected Aboriginal Australia from outside intervention. That isolation ended in January 1788 when England established a penal colony at Sydney Cove. The vast majority of the new settlers were here against their will. Many were political prisoners who had fought for Irish independence.

The European settlers had little understanding of the nature of the country. Food shortages became crucial. Expansion of the settlement to Parramatta and Toongabbie soon occurred but these settlements were unable to supply an adequate food supply for the colony.

The Hawkesbury region of course is the home of the Darug people.

Governor Phillip explored the Hawkesbury River by boat in July 1789 reaching as far as an area now known as Yarramundi Falls at the junction of the Grose and Nepean Rivers. He planted crops on Richmond Hill before returning to Sydney.

Governor Phillip returned to the Hawkesbury by foot in April 1791. He was accompanied by Captain Watkin Tench who recorded in his journal the first meeting in the Hawkesbury between Europeans and the Darug people. The party met and stayed overnight with Gombeeree, Yellomundi and Deeimba at Bardenarang Creek. Tench's accounts shows the beginnings of understanding between the two peoples but also just how little was actually known about Aboriginal culture.

Settlement of the Hawkesbury by Europeans first occurred in January 1794 when twenty two families were granted farms on Pitt Town Bottoms, them known as Bardenarang. One of those twenty-two settlers was Joseph Wright from whom I am descended.

Conflict between the natives and Europeans was inevitable. The Aboriginals were being expelled from part of their land and found their traditional food supply diminishing. The Europeans were in a unaccustomed environment. They were struggling to overcome a shortage of food and supplies.

The farms on the Hawkesbury were essential to the European settlement's survival. Without food from the Hawkesbury the settlement would have had to be abandoned.

The Hawkesbury has been described as being in an open state of war between 1795 and 1805.
Captain Paterson reported on 15th June 1795, stated:

The number of settlers on the banks of the Hawkesbury, with their families, amounts to upwards of four hundred persons, and their grounds extend nearly thirty miles along the banks on both sides of the river. They have for some time past been annoyed by the natives, who have assembled in large parties for the purpose of plundering them of their corn; and from the impossibility of furnishing each settler with firearms for his defence, several accidents have happened. Within a few weeks five people have been killed and several wounded. It therefore became absolutely necessary to take some measures which might secure to the settlers the peaceable possession of their estates, and without which, from the alarm these murders have created, I very much feared they would have abandoned the settlement entirely, and given up the most fertile spot which has yet been discovered in the colony. I therefore sent a detachment of two subalterns and sixty privates of the New South Wales Corps to the river, as well as to drive the natives to a distance, as for the protection of the settlers.
It gives me concern to have been forced to destroy any of these people, particularly as I have no doubt of their having been cruelly treated by some of the first settlers who went out there; however, had I not taken this step, every prospect of advantage which the colony may expect to derive from a settlement formed on the banks of so fine a river as the Hawkesbury would be at an end.
After investigating complaints against the natives by a settler from Portland Head, Governor King reported, on 20th December 1804, to Lord Hobart
Wishing to be convinced myself what cause there was for these alarms, three of the natives from that part of the river readily came on being sent for. On questioning the cause of their disagreement with the new settlers they very ingenuously answered that they did not like to be driven from the few places that were left on the banks of the river, where alone they could procure food; that they had gone down the river as the white men took possession of the banks; if they went across white men's grounds the settlers fired upon them and were angry; that if they could retain some places on the lower part of the river they should be satisfied, and would not trouble the white men. The observation appeared to be so just and so equitable that I assured them that no more settlements should be made lower down the river. With that assurance they appeared well satisfied and promised to be quiet, in which state they continue. 

Hostilities again occurred in 1816. By this time further grants had been issued in the Hawkesbury and in the District of Upper Nelson as the result of the emancipation of more convicts and the increasing white population. This again resulted in the displacement of natives from their traditional lands.

As a direct descendant of one of the first twenty two European families to settle in the Hawkesbury and as Mayor of the City of Hawkesbury:

I acknowledge that the land on which we stand is traditional Darug Land and that the Darug people have a long proud history, culture and heritage in which we, as residents of the Hawkesbury, should all take great pride.

I acknowledge that European Australians have not fully appreciated or understood the true significance and value of Darug culture and heritage and that as a result the Darug people have suffered greatly.

I am sorry for that lack of understanding of Darug culture and heritage and commit myself to working towards a true understanding of Aboriginal culture by all citizens of our country.

I am sorry for the loss of the land by the Darug people resulting from past events in our nation's history. I am sorry for the death and suffering which occurred as part of those events.

I am sorry for the "stolen generation" and other events, which came about as the result of the failure to understand indigenous culture and heritage.

The events of the past cannot be changed but they do need to be understood.

Let us commit ourselves today to acknowledge the injustices of the past; to work together to develop a full appreciation of Aboriginal culture by all Australians; and to walk together as one people into the Twenty First Century.

References

  1. H.R.A. series 1, vol. 1, p.499
  2. H.R.N.S.W. vol. 5, p. 513

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Trove Tuesday: Windsor Bridge

WINDSOR BRIDGE.
THIS structure, which has been raised to the extent of eight feet, is now fairly completed, and Mr. Jas. McCall, who has had charge of the work, is to be commended, not only for the excellent manner in which he has performed his duties, but on the expedition which he has used. When the work was projected, it was contended by some local folks that it could not be completed under a twelve month, yet we find that Mr McCall has not been more than seven months over the task. The raising of the structure by eight feet will prove an immense boon to those who have bean in the habit of using it, and more particularly to our agricultural community. Complaint in time of flood was frequent to the effect that communication with Windsor by means of the bridge was cut off long before the roads on the Wilberforce side were sub merged-but the cause for all this objection has now been done away with. The approaches on either side have also undergone a complete change, for the two pinches have been considerably reduced, thereby being rendered less difficult of ascent with a load. On the Windsor side, where there is an embankment overlooking the wharf, a railing has been erected, and the safety of travellers has been conserved in every possible way. Altogether a most satisfactory job has been made of the whole affair, and there should now be no reasonable cause for further complaint on the part of the population. It is a matter for congratulation that Mr W Morgan, M.P., was able to secure a grant of money from the Government sufficient to enable this very necessary improvement to be effected with so much expedition, and there is little doubt that those interested will remember his efforts on their behalf when the proper time arrives. The Windsor Bridge is now a credit to the district, and too much praise for the efficient manner in which the work has been effected cannot be bestowed upon all concerned.
The construction of a temporary bridge was commenced on September 9, 1896, this bridge to, carry traffic during alteration to permanent bridge. The temporary bridge, which was 460 feet long, was completed and opened for traffic in six weeks. The main bridge has been raised 8 feet, by placing 8 feet cylinders on top of old ones; new capsules were fixed throughout, all corbels and girders re- fitted, and those that were unfit to be used again, were replaced by new ones. A new pier and abutment has been erected at the Wilberforce end, and the bridge lengthened by 20 feet. A new 4" tallow wood deck has been laid diagonally, new ironbark kerb log 12x12, new iron hand-rails, the stanchions having balance weights, whilst the rail can be disconnected into four sections, so that one man can lower and raise in flood time. All that remains to be done now is the painting, which, it is expected, will be finished about the end of this week. All plant and gear will be cleared away early next week. The average number of men employed weekly was 25, except when the approaches were being made up, when over 50 men were employed, in addition to some 20 horses and drays. The total cost of the work was about £4000, about one half of which has been spent locally in wages, carting, &o.
Source: WINDSOR BRIDGE. (1897, April 3). Windsor and Richmond Gazette (NSW : 1888 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved June 30, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72551524

Monday, 14 July 2014

Governor Phillip and the Hawkesbury

Governor Arthur Phillip (1738 - 1814)


Governor Arthur Phillip
Source: Australian National Botanic Gardens

Arthur Phillip was born in 1738 in London, the son of Jacob Phillip, a language teacher who came from Frankfurt, and Elizabeth, nee Breach. He attended the Greenwich school for the sons of seamen and was apprenticed to the Merchant Navy, graduating in 1755, after two years at sea. He transferred to the Royal Navy and was promoted to lieutenant in 1762 before being retired in 1763 when the Seven Years War ended.

Phillip spent the next 15 years farming in Hampshire, returning to the sea during the Spanish-Portuguese war when he served with the Portuguese navy from 1774 to 1778. During the American War of Independence in 1778, he returned to the English navy and became a post captain in 1781. After the war, Phillip was doing survey work for the British Admiralty when he was appointed as first governor of New South Wales in October 1786. He had risen in the navy by his own effort at a time when patronage was the norm, and was considered reliable and trustworthy. His knowledge of farming may have also influenced the decision.

Instructions from the Home Secretary, Lord Sydney to Captain Arthur Phillip

. . . We, reposing especial trust and confidence in your loyalty, courage and experience in military affairs, do, by these presents, constitute and appoint you to be Governor of our territory called New South Wales, extending from the northern cape or extremity of the coast called Cape York, in the latitude of 10° 37' south, to the southern extremity of the said territory of New South Wales or South Cape, in the latitude 43° 39' south, and all the country inland and westward as far as the one hundred and thirty-fifth degree of longitude, reckoning from the meridian of Greenwich, including all the islands adjacent in the Pacific Ocean, within the latitude aforesaid of 10° 37' south and 43° 39' south, and of all towns, garrisons, castles, forts and all other fortifications or other military works, which now are or may be hereafter erected upon this said territory. You are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the duty of Governor in and over our said territory by doing and performing all and all manner of things thereunto belonging, and we do hereby strictly charge and command all our officers and soldiers who shall be employed within our said territory, and all others whom it may concern, to obey you as our Governor thereof; and you are to observe and follow such orders and directions from time to time as you shall receive from us, or any other your superior officer according to the rules and discipline of war, and likewise such orders and directions as we shall send you under our signet or sign manual, or by our High Treasurer or Commissioners of our Treasury, for the time being, or one of our Principal Secretaries of State, in pursuance of the trust we hereby repose in you.Instructions from the Home Secretary, Lord Sydney to Captain Arthur Phillip.

Given at our Court at St, James's, the twelfth day of October 1786, in the twenty-sixth year of our reign.

By His Majesty's Command
SYDNEY.

Source: The transcript of Governor Phillip's instructions is taken from the Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. 2, Part 2.

Unlike the British authorities, he was seized by a great vision of a new British outpost to be established in the southern seas. He wanted free settlement encouraged and proposed to try to reform the convicts and to treat Aborigines kindly, establishing harmonious relations with them.

He also had good understanding of administrative detail and considerable foresight. He understood the difficulties involved in transporting men and women from England to an unknown land on the other side of the world and lobbied for sufficient equipment, food and clothing to enable a safe passage.

Other instructions advised Phillip about managing the convicts, granting and cultivating the land, and exploring the country. The Aborigines' lives and livelihoods were to be protected and friendly relations with them encouraged, but the Instructions make no mention of protecting or even recognising their lands. It was assumed that Australia was terra nullius, that is, land belonging to no one. This assumption shaped land law and occupation for more than 200 years.

Although they were instructed to establish themselves at Botany Bay, Phillip was separately authorised to choose any other appropriate neighbouring territory. When the last vessel left for England in November 1788, a quantity of clay from Sydney was consigned to Josiah Wedgwood on the suggestion of Sir Joseph Banks, and from this first export the Wedgwood Sydney medallions were made.

A fleet of 11 ships -- with Arthur Phillip, the first governor of the settlement, in charge of 160 marines and 729 convicts -- weighed anchor in Portsmouth, England, on May 13, 1787, and reached Botany Bay on the 18th January 1788. Finding it too barren, sandy, and shallow for permanent settlement, fresh water was inadequate and the anchorages were too open in the wide bays) Phillip investigated the next inlet to the north. There, spreading its fingers of deep water into sheltered sandstone promontories, he found "one of the finest harbours in the world, in which a thousand sail on the line might ride in the most perfect security." The harbor, which had been discovered and named by Cook earlier, was Port Jackson -- now better known as Sydney Harbour. Sydney takes its name from Lord Thomas Townshend Sydney, the British home secretary to whom Governor Phillip reported. Phillip's First Fleet was unloaded 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the heads in what is now know as Sydney Cove on Jan. 26, 1788--now celebrated as Australia Day."
source - Compton's Encyclopedia

Phillip established the convict colony in Sydney Cove, which he governed in a sensible and humane way, despite conditions which included poor quality food, largely infertile land and a lack of experienced farm labour which led to near-famine. He requested a return to England in 1790, pleading ill-health, and eventually sailed for England in 1792, leaving a colony with more than 1,700 acres of land under cultivation or cleared and ready for sowing and which, within another year, was almost able to support itself.

Within six weeks after the arrival of the First Fleet in Port Jackson, Governor Arthur Phillip hopeful of finding better grazing and agricultural land set out to explore the coast to the north of Port Jackson in a cutter. On the 2nd of March, they arrived in Broken Bay and explored Brisbane Water and Cowan Creek and traveled up the Hawkesbury River as far as Dangar Island.

In August 1788 Phillip accompanied by an exploration party travelled overland from Manly Cove to Pittwater and back.

Not a little alarm was occasioned among the white population during April of 1789, by the discovery that small-pox had broken out among the Aborigines, and was killing them off in numbers. The dead bodies of many of the natives were discovered in various places about the shores of the harbour and in the bush, and upon two sick children and an adult male being brought, by the Governor's orders, to the camp, the medical officers without hesitation pronounced the disease under which they were suffering to be small-pox. The colonists were as much surprised as alarmed at the appearance of this dreadful scourge among the natives; but the natives themselves showed they had some previous experience of a similar nature as they called the disease "gal-ga-la". They could not have contracted the disease on this occasion from the whites, seeing that it had not made its appearance among them, and fortunately did not subsequently, although it raged with great virulence among the natives, who had been prepared for pestilence by dearth of food, and who fell easy victims to the spotted curse. The two black children taken in hand by the Governor recovered, but the adult died; and it was remarked as a most singular thing, that while all the whites escaped the contagion, it seized a North American Indian who happened to be employed on board the Supply, and speedily carried him off. Hundreds of the Aborigines were carried off by the dreadful scourge, and the remainder who had come in contact with the colonists without hesitancy laid this extra calamity at the doors of the invaders, and became still more bitter against them. It may be remarked en passant‡, that more than three quarters of a century after this, a similarly disastrous visitation fell upon the black race in one of the South Sea Islands—Fiji—and depopulated whole villages.

Just over one year later, in June 1789, Governor Phillip and his men went out on a second exploratory trip of Broken Bay. It was during this trip that he discovered the first and second branches of the river (the Macdonald and Colo Rivers respectively). He navigated the river to a point upstream of Windsor. Governor Phillip and his party reached the Windsor area on 6th July 1789 and named it Green Hills. He was impressed with its farming potential and quickly arranged for food production to begin in order to relieve the shortages in Port Jackson. He gave the river its modern name to honor Charles Jenkinson, First Earl of Liverpool, England and the Baron of Hawkesbury. The Aboriginal name for the Hawkesbury River is 'Deerubbun. This led to the first contact between the white settlers and the Dharruk Aboriginal people of the Hawkesbury district. Phillip immediately saw that the land he had seen along the banks of the Hawkesbury held great advantages for future settlers. He found much of the land near Richmond Hill to be flat and, if the abundance of trees was an indicator, fertile so Phillip had Captain Hunter produce a district survey.

One very pathetic story is related by Hunter, as occurring three months after the outbreak, when the Governor was on the expedition refered to above, up the Hawkesbury River. When at the south branch of Broken Bay:—

....a native woman was discovered concealing herself from our sight, in the long grass, which was at this time very wet, and I should have thought very uncomfortable for a poor naked creature. She had, before the arrival of our boats at this beach, been with some of her friends, employed fishing for their daily food, but were upon their approach alarmed, and they had all made their escape except this miserable girl, who had just recovered from the small-pox and was very weak, and unable, from a swelling in one of her knees, to get off to any distance; she therefore crept off and concealed herself in the best manner she could among the grass, not twenty yards from the spot on which we had placed our tents. She appeared to be about seventeen or eighteen years of age, and was covered with wet grass, having no other means of hiding herself. She was very much frighten upon our approaching her, and shed many tears, and with piteous lamentations, we soothed her distress a little, and the sailors were immediately ordered to bring up some fire, which we placed before her; we pulled some grass, dried it by the fire, and spread it round her to keep her warm; then we shot some birds, such as hawks, crows, and gulls, skinned them, and laid them out on the fire to broil, together with some fish, which she ate; we then gave her water, of which she seemed very much in want, for when the word "baa-do" was mentioned, which was their expression for water, she put her tongue out to shew how dry her mouth was. Before we retired for the night we saw her again, and got some firewood laid within her reach with which she might in the course of the night recruit her fire; we also cut a large quantity of grass, dried it, covered her well, and left her to her repose, which from her situation I judged was not very comfortable or refreshing. Next morning we visited her again; she had now got pretty much the better of her fears, and frequently called to her friends, who had left her, and who, we knew, could be at no great distance from her, she repeated their names in a very loud and shrill voice, and with much anxiety and concern for the little notice they took of her entreaties to return; for we imagined, in all she said when calling on them, she was informing them that the strangers were not enemies, but friends; however, all her endeavours to bring them back were ineffectual while we remained with her; but we were no sooner gone from the beach than we saw some of them come out of the wood, and as there were two canoes on the shore belonging to this party, they launched one into the water and went away.

In 1789 Governor Arthur Phillip sent Dawes with a small party to reach the Western mountains. They crossed the Nepean (later discoveries proved the Nepean to be an extension of the Hawkesbury) at Emu Ford, and keeping Round Hill (now Mount Hay) in view and ascending and descending the gullies they pushed their way through the areas we now know as Mt Riverview, Warrimoo and Valley Heights and reached Springwood on the Bee Farm Road ridge. They came to within nine kilometres of Mount Hay before they had to turn back with provisions running low.

After his voyage along the Hawkesbury in 1789, Phillip in a dispatch to Lord Sydney described his excursion:

After having been several times with the boats to Broken Bay, in order to examine the different branches in that harbour, a river was found, but the want of provisions obliged us to return without being able to trace it to its source, which has since been done and in the sixteen days we were then out all those branches which had any depth of water were traced as the boats could proceed.
The river, which I named Hawkesbury, after the Lord Hawkesbury, is laid down in the chart from an eye-sketch made by Captain Hunter, as we rowed up it. The breadth of this river is from three hundred to eight hundred feet, and it appears from the soundings we had to be navigable for the largest merchant ships to the foot of Richmond Hill; but as the water near the head of the river sometimes rises, after heavy rains, thiry feet above its common level, it would not be safe for ships to go far up; but fifteen or twenty miles below Richmond Hill they would lay in fresh water and perfectly safe. I speak of Richmond Hill as being the head of the river, it there growing very shallow, dividing into two branches.
The high rocky country which forms Broken Bay is lost as you proceed up the Hawkesbury, and the banks of the river are then covered with timber, the soil a rich light mould, and judging from the little we saw of the country, I should suppose it good land to a very considerable extent; the other branches of fresh water are shoal, but probably run many miles further into the country than we could trace them with our boats. On these rivers we saw great numbers of wild ducks and some black swans; and on the banks of the Hawkesbury several decoys made by the natives for to catch the quail.
Richmond Hill (near the foot of which a fall of water prevented our proceeding further with the boats) is the southern extremity of a range of hills, which, running to the northward, most probably join the mountains which lay nearly parallel to the coast, from fifty to sixty miles inland. the soil of Richmond Hill is good and it lays well for cultivation. Our prospect from the hill was very extensive to the southward and eastward, the country appearing, from the height at which we were, to be a level covered with timber, there is a flat of six or seven miles between Richmond Hill and a break in the mountains, which separates Lansdown and Carmarthen Hills, and in this flat I suppose the Hawkesbury continues its course, but which could not be seen for the timber that, with very few exceptions, covers the country wherever the soil is good.
The great advantages of so noble a river, when a settlement can be made on its banks, will be obvious to your Lordship.

Source: A. Phillip to Lord Sydney, 13 February 1790, in Historical Records of Australia, series I, vol.-, pp. 155-6
Phillip established the convict colony in NSW, which he governed in a sensible and humane way, despite adverse conditions which included poor quality food, largely infertile land and a lack of experienced farm labour which led to near-famine. He requested to be allowed to return to England in 1790, pleading ill-health, and eventually sailed for England in 1792, leaving a colony with more than 1,700 acres of land under cultivation or cleared and ready for sowing and which, within another year, was almost able to support itself.

Phillip had hoped to return to the colony when his health was restored. Instead he went back to active service in the navy, commanding several ships during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1789 he was made a rear-admiral, on the 11th December 1792 Phillip sailed for England on the "Atlantic" to seek medical attention, & his health compelled him to resign formally on 23rd July 1793. He continued his progression in the naval hierarchy, becoming an admiral of the blue in 1814, the year of his death.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Trove Tuesday: A number of firsts


[No heading]. (1803, March 5). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 1.
Retrieved July 8, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page5653

Australia's first newspaper

The first newspaper printed in Australia was The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser. Printed by George Howe, the newspaper first appeared on 5 March 1803 and ran through to the 20 October 1842.

Under the Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program project of the National Library of Australia every issue can now be searched on Trove. There are numerous mentions of the Hawkesbury including people, places and events.

First death in the first edition

There are several mentions of the Hawkesbury in the first edition of The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser. Interestingly there are two recorded deaths, the first of which occurred at Cornwallis Farm when Hawkesbury settler R. Withers died of apoplexy on 17 February 1803.

Family Notices. (1803, March 5). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 4. Retrieved July 8, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article625424


Monday, 7 July 2014

Welcome aboard

Welcome to our new blog for the Hawkesbury Historical Society. We hope you will enjoy our posts about the history of the Hawkesbury and encourage you to come along to one of our society meetings and participate in the recording of our history.
Windsor Court house
Windsor Court House designed by Colonial Architect Francis Greenway and built by William Cox in 1822. The photograph shows the present condition of the court house after renovations completed in 1999. Source: Alan Aldrich