For you history buffs -- and there are many of us -- Hawkesbury cemeteries hold a fascination as they are the physical connection to our past. Old burial sites, small plots and aged headstones have a lure all their own.  Local historians, Jonathan Auld (Tizzana Winery) and his wife, Michelle have a Facebook page for the Cemetery Register:  This map allows the site visitor to click on an icon and go directly to the cemetery in question. Technology now brings us closer to our ancestors.

But on a physical hunt for ancestry, one of the most interesting cemeteries is at quaint St Albans. We found it on our first trip into the Hawkesbury. An old and somewhat rickety iron fence sets off the cemetery from the road. Otherwise, we may not have noticed the cemetery in a moving car.

It is a small site, the few trees along the edge of the fenced-in space are graying and old and the writing on the headstones often barely discernible. On this hot dusty day, we walked slowly around each plot and headstone, eager for any leafy shade available. Protection from the Hawkesbury sun was a blessing. The old road -- at that time unsealed -- the cemetery and its remoteness from our civilisation made for an eerie silence, as though we had stepped back in time -- intruders emmerging from a strange noisy box on wheels.

Today, we better know our way around the Hawkesbury and all it has to offer on this less beaten path. One of those hotspots is Tizzana Winery and Jubilee Vineyard Estate. Merely steps apart, each offers some wonderful earthy Hawkesbury wines. Recently, e attended a wine tasting at Tizzana. Six Hawkesbury vintners offered multiple wines for tasting. Our favourite of the day: Tizzana's Ambrose Aleatico Rose -- a fresh, clean flavour with a honey aftertaste. Our guests overruled our choice with a blend: Tizzana's Clarissa Petit Verdot/Shiraz and Bull Ridge Estate Durif (2008). Each vineyard is open on Sundays for tasting and during week days by appointment. Each provides a complementary plates of appetisers along with your tasting.

Beautiful quiet rural roads and historic settings for wine tasting -- what could be more pleasant for a Sunday drive.

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Our posts took a backseat in recent weeks as we have been researching for the next edition of the Historic Windsor Guide. is the online version of the print publication.  Our research is quite interesting, certainly most challenging as we must read and read again to grasp a history that is not our own -- rather the Australian history. While our next edition of the Villages of Hawkesbury Guide is not due out for a couple of months, we want to share some of your history that we find fascinating.

This year, we discovered so many threads to who Australians are today -- but from the past. As the early settlement eventually made its way to the Hawkesbury, this area is rich in stories and events. Some are humorous, others sad beyond belief, but they are the voices of the indigenous, Aboriginals who have been here for thousands of years, of convict men and women who were transported in 1788 and of military officers who came to manage a 'gaol without walls'.

Here is our first story -- it is brief. Others in future posts will be longer, but for us, all are meaningful.

These Stories Happened A Long Time Ago

The Tall Poppy Syndrome

Tattooed on more than one convict’s arm in the early days of Australia was the saying, ‘Let all the world say what it will, Speak of me as you find.

James Macarthur testified to the 1837 Select Committee on Transportation that ‘Former prisoners, [early emancipists] believe the colony was theirs by right’. Even Governor Macquarie held an opinion,as reported by Reverend Dr J.D. Lang: Governor Macquarie in a burst of exasperation after a verbal skirmish with a free settler,“ This country was established for the reformation of convicts; free people had no right to come to it”. To which Lang added in his report: ‘This feeling was very common among the emancipists of all classes.’

Historian Babette Smith writes: ‘In 1832 when the ship John arrived the behaviours on the streets [among all] were those of the prisoners – a confident, hard-drinking, blasphemous, humorous society, but energetic and optimistic, confident that they had found a place which they could make their own.’

The rub between convicts, emancipists, free settlers and the military resulted in a war of words – ‘a slanging match’, which lives on today in the Tall Poppy Syndrome.

More stories to come!


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