Feast and Flood: Windsor & Hawkesbury River

For learners who are hands-on. The Darug named the river Dyarubbin. The walk takes us around Windsor which was first settled in 1795. This was in spite of warnings by Darug, observations by First Fleet officers, and obvious signs of flooding. How do choke points and tributaries create monster floods? There was cooperation as well as conflict between First and Second settlers. How to harness the rich alluvial soils without drowning? Windsor has preserved its history. e.g. the beautiful St. Matthews church, and old pubs. We'll glimpse historical characters Gomebeere, Governors Phillip & Macquarie, Margaret Catchpole, Francis Greenway & Andrew Thompson. Meet 9:45am at Windsor station, train leaves 8:37am at Central Station (suburban platforms).

This walk will go ahead whatever the weather, except where the guide deems there to be a threat to health and safety. In this situation you will be contacted with an alternative date. Please ensure your mobile phone number is up-to-date with WEA before enrolling and make sure you take it with you on the day in case the tutor needs to contact you.


  • People of the River: lost worlds of early Australia, Grace Karskens (2020)
  • 1788 - Comprising A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay and A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson, Watkin Tenchs, ed. Tim Flannery (1997)
  • Margaret Catchpole: Her Life and Her Letters, Laurie Chater Forth (2012)
  • Blood revenge: Murder on the Hawkesbury 1799, Lyn Stewart (2015)
  • The Sydney Wars: Conflict in the early colony 1788 - 1817, Stephen Gapp (2018)


A train journey to the end of the Cumberland plains, followed by a tour of Windsor, its preserved history, buildings, the river, and some stories along the way. Reasonable fitness required as you must be able to walk 7 kms over 5½ hours (Grade 1-2 Walk / National Parks Association NSW), walking mostly on streets. You will need the following walking gear:

  • Walking shoes
  • Sunhat, sunscreen
  • Backpack with 2 litres water, morning tea and lunch
  • Clothing as befits the weather.


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Supporting healthy lifestyle choices.
  2. Understanding the Nepean-Hawkesbury river system.
  3. Imagining the clash of cultures at first contact.
  4. Knowledge about the frontier of the penal colony and its consequences.
  5. The bread basket of the colony: the river giveth, the river taketh away.
  6. How to create a small settler society: Macquarie.

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