Holidaying at home.

4 July 2014

There are lots of advantages to holidaying at home. Packing is easy. Well … non-existent, in fact. Great tea and coffee making facilities. Your own bed … yay! Your own pillow … double YAY! You get to stock the mini-bar with goodies of your choice and at the right price … triple YAY!! No need for Ralphie boarding ...

With cousin Maria on board for a visit, I've been doing some serious holidaying at home.

Western Sydney is an area steeped in history. Richmond, Windsor, Wilberforce are all Macquarie towns, established by Governor Macquarie in the early 1800s to provide the fledgling city with grain and fresh vegetables. So, for Australians, there is some of our oldest history here. Well, oldest preserved history. In Sydney itself there were older, but they didn't survive the push for development and modernisation.

So, we've been to two of Australia's oldest, and still operating, establishments. 

Firstly, the oldest surviving pub in Australia, the Macquarie Arms at Windsor.

People were obviously much smaller in those days.

Someone has a sense of humour.

The pub serves excellent $10 lunches, Monday to Friday. We can vouch for them. We ate there several times. When you find a great lunch for $10, why go anywhere else?

We wondered about the characters who would have had a beer here, what plans had been made here, what deals brokered.

It's a strange feeling sipping a wine or a beer and enjoying a steak in the midst of history. Don't you think? A little eerie even.

The street where the pub is found is flanked by old buildings from the 1800s and early 1900s.

And private residences that housed doctors and other professionals.

I love the architectural details of old buildings and, of course, that Eureka Flag.

We also visited the oldest surviving church in Australia, Ebenezer Church, a little further up the Hawkesbury from Windsor.

Originally, this church was non-denominational as the settlers who had it built, although primarily Presbyterian, came from a range of faiths and would worship together. 

The bulk of these settlers had arrived in Australia in 1802 on the Coromandel as free settlers and worked together to set up a community in what would have been quite an isolated spot on the Hawkesbury River. They were the first white settlers in this area. 

Surprisingly, the church was not convict built, but financed through community members offering their money, skills or their services. One settler offered his bullocks to transport the sandstone across the river. Another was responsible for the church's design. Each offered whatever they could contribute towards the construction of their church. 

I think this makes the church even more special.

You can see on the side of the church a doorway has been filled in. Originally the building was divided in two: one half church, the other half school room.

I contemplated the births, christenings, marriages, deaths that this little church had seen. I felt enveloped by history.

Close to the church is the school teacher's house. A small, four roomed, timber and sandstone building. Winter had just started when we visited and the house was VERY cold. 

Even with that small fireplace roaring away, I'm sure the winters would have tested even the most dedicated teacher.

The devonshire teas gave us some warmth. Yum. Cousin Maria rugged up, but still cold.

The church is set beautifully above the river with large, sweeping surrounds.

And, as is always the case, a cemetery, telling tales of lives past, sits close by.

The graves of two First Fleeters, turned free settlers, who provided the land on which the church rests.

Cousin Maria provides a lot more about the church here.

Cemeteries are full of distinct beauty, I think.

So, that's it for this week.

Another cultural adventure.

How do you feel in the midst of history?

Can you suggest any other places I need to visit?

Have you been to any "oldest" sites?

Certainly being in the presence of First Fleeters was a rare treat for me.

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