River History Walk: Windsor & Hawkesbury River

This walk takes us around Windsor which was first settled by the British in 1795, beside the bountiful Hawkesbury. Dyarubbin - as the river was called by the Darug people - has choke points which create monster floods. We will explore the cooperation and conflict between First and Second settlers. Windsor has preserved its history with the beautiful St. Matthews church and old pubs. We will find out about historical characters such as Gomebeere, Governors Phillip & Macquarie, Margaret Catchpole, Francis Greenway and Andrew Thompson. Meet at 9:45am at Windsor station. The train from Central station (suburban platform) leaves at 8:37am. Please check for updates via Sydney Train's website before the day of the course.

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 ensure that you have 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 Tench, 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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