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Pole 7: Boating History
Monument Details
Name:  not applicable
Died:  not applicable
Age:  not applicable
Monument:  Convicts and Early History Monument, Wisemans Ferry
Location:  Pole 7

Additional Notes:


Discovery / In June of 1788 Governor Arthur Phillip embarked on a expedition / to seek out good farming land to support the foundling colony. / What he found was the mouth of one of NSW's most / well-renowned rivers, the Hawkesbury River. / The river was named after Charles Jenkinson, first Earl of / Liverpool, Baron Hawkesbury, and at the time the President of the / Board of Trade and Plantations in England. A man who had / considerable influence over the colony in the early days. / Good farming land had been found to grow the produce needed to / support the main settlement in Sydney. In 1794 land grants were offered to families willing to leave the first settlement and venture / to the river to begin farming. Wheat and corn were the chief crops / grown and pigs and poultry the main livestock.

River Steamers / The 1830's brought a change in farming practices / along the Hawkesbury. The growing of wheat was / fazed out and the growing of fruit and vegetables / was bought in. As produce did not remain ripe for / very long there was a need for transport to Sydney / to be much faster than had been done in the early / wheat transporting days. As a result sailing boats / were superseded by river steamers. The first recorded steamer to use the Hawkesbury was the / "Sophia Jane" in 1831. Over the next few years / steamers became a common sight transporting both / goods and people between Sydney and Windsor.

Shopping on the River / Local river families relied heavily on water / transport to supply their household needs. / In 1804 small boats called store boats were / introduced. These boats and their crews / supplied isolated settlers not only with the / necessities of life, but also provided social / contact and news of the happenings along / the river. They provided everything from / sugar to shoes, from farm implements to / haberdashery. In later years one could even / get fresh meat and bread.

Early Boats and Boat Building / The Hawkesbury River was the major arterial road for the / early farmers and settlers who lived along its banks. At this / time there was no trafficable road between the river and / Sydney and so all grain, produce, livestock and people had to / be transported back and forth by boat. The route from Broken / Bay to Port Jackson through the open sea was not a kind one. High seas and strong winds claimed many a ship. The first / vessels to brave this journey were small sloops and later large / schooners (sailing ships). / In the early years all ships and small boats were brought from Britain. Governor Phillip was given orders that no vessels / were to be built by private individuals as there was a fear that / convicts would steal them and escape to New Zealand. This / meant that all water travel was owned and controlled by the / government. / As the British Government became embroiled in the / Napolenic wars the much needed supply of ships dwindled. / Governor King recognised the need for commerce to develop / throughout the fledgling colony and turned a blind eye to the / building of a few ships for private traders. And so the boat / building industry began. / From 1803 there was a lot of boat building on the / Hawkesbury. Boats ranging in size from small 2.5m dingies to / 20 tonne sloops to 270 tonne sealers. The vessels carrying / produce and livestock to Sydney were mostly 8 metres in / length and carried oars as well as sails.

Today / The Hawkesbury River today is a very / different place to the early days of / settlement. With the building of roads and / railways and the invention of the motor / vehicle, trade and transport is no longer / needed along the river. Instead the modern / river is a great drawcard for recreation. / Today the river is a popular place for water / skiing, fishing and houseboats.


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