River, Settlers and Convicts
- Visit the Hawkesbury Regional Museum (closed Tuesdays) in Windsor for a fabulous overview of the area’s river history. The Hawkesbury was labelled ‘the food bowl of Sydney’ because it fed colonial Sydney – due to its abundant water supply and its rich arable land. Howe House in the museum grounds, built in the 1820s, features a RAAF display that documents the absorbing history of the operational base in Richmond – it was in July 1925 that the first RAAF element in NSW, Number 3 Squadron, formed at Richmond. Museum collections include indigenous tools belonging to the Darug and Darkinjung people, the traditional owners and custodians who have cared for the land around the Hawkesbury for many thousands of years.
- Cross the Hawkesbury River at Windsor Bridge and head to Wilberforce, turn right into King Road which becomes Sackville Road. Cross the river again on the Sackville Ferry – notice the turf farms dotted along Wilberforce Road. It is a flourishing industry in this area and all is irrigated by the Hawkesbury River.
- Continue via Maroota to the village of Wisemans Ferry settled by Solomon Wiseman in the 1830s. On the left hand side of the Old Northern Road (3km before Wisemans Ferry) is Hawkins Lookout – offering outstanding river vistas and views of the two cable ferries crossing the river. Drop into historic Wisemans Ferry Hotel, established in 1827 (Cobham Hall Museum – the original residence of Solomon Wiseman is open weekends and public holidays 1pm-3pm). He’s the remarkable convict, merchant and ferryman that Kate Grenville’s novel The Secret River is based upon. See the statue of Solomon Wiseman – who received a land grant here from Governor Macquarie and after whom the village is named – in the main street. He is buried in the Wisemans Ferry cemetery.
- Pick your own mandarins, oranges, limes and cumquats, when in season, at nearby Fords Farm and Watkins Farm. Check our website for picking details. If you are into fishing Wisemans Ferry has a public boat ramp to launch your boat or simply fish from the river banks. For the boating enthusiast kayak hire is available at Able Houseboats, Wisemans Ferry.
- Cross the river at Wisemans Ferry and drive towards St Albans on Settlers Road. Stretch your legs on one of Australia’s heritage treasures – the Great North Road Convict Trail. Take a 15 minute walk up Devine’s Hill – it leads to spectacular stone walling, culverts, quarries, buttresses, chiseled and blasted rock faces and hand hewn drains – all completed by the convicts. The road works date back to between 1825-36.
- Drive to the village of St Albans surrounded by amazing wilderness. Drop into historic Settlers Arms Inn, established in 1836. It was used by the stagecoaches travelling between Sydney and Newcastle/Hunter Valley in the 19th century.Return to Wisemans Ferry on St Albans Road and cross the river on the Webb’s Creek ferry and back to Wisemans Ferry for your journey home.
70km/1hr 45 minutes one way without stops