welcome to Windsor
While many of us think of Windsor as a country town, impressions and ambience from the hill above the Hawkesbury River offer the atmosphere of a small village. Petite shops and cafés line a single street - George Street. The pedestrian friendly Mall is home to an iconic waterwheel at the top end with a town clock and an historic post office as its book-end counterpart.
It is 1810. Windsor is the third city of a fledgling penal colony named by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. On the highest ridge overlooking the river, the Macquarie Government erects a government store, a military barrack and a government house. Additional huts on the ridge provide rudimentary housing for convicts with little protection from cold or heat.
Early dates conflict but as early as 1795, a portion of land within spitting distance of the military barracks is preserved as a civic space for residents. Markets are a weekly event as produce is plentiful. Yet, punishment by flogging or hanging in this public space simultaneously entertains and terrorises residents.
By late 1810, the space is named Thompson Square, following the October death of wealthy emancipist settler, Andrew Thompson. Along with the construction of an essential wharf on the river's edge, Thompson Square and the government constructed buildings give the appearance of a small village. Macquarie's vision for a growing colony takes shape. This is Windsor.
From the top of George Street down to Hawkesbury Valley Way, early Windsor buildings still line each side. Bright umbrellas decorate The Mall protecting café fronts and providing a shady respite on hot summer days while the slow-turning waterwheel sends a cooling spray to those nearby. A charming ambience suggests that we slow our pace, enjoy a hearty breakfast or a lovely slow lunch and consider a late afternoon walk along the river.
Often our history - dates, places, wars and peace treaties - is not so captivating to many. But the historic buildings, homes and graveyards are part of the charm of this village. Contemplate the pathway from the wharf up to the cellar of Macquarie Arms pub. Bridge Street did not exist. Rumour has it that rum was carted from wharf to cellar in the dark of night. Along the way, though only a short distance, a barrel often disappeared!