Macquarie Park is located at Windsor, New South Wales on the northern bank of the Hawkesbury River along Windsor Reach. The park has an area of 24 hectares and is accessed by crossing the river at Windsor Bridge and turning immediately to the left at the roundabout on Wilberforce Road. The park includes plenty of parking, toilets, a cafe, sandy beach along 1.4 km of riverbank, children’s playground and picnic facilities. The two storey building housing the cafe was constructed in the 1930s and was almost destroyed by fire in 1993. The park had been a privately owned picnic area until 1955 when it was purchased by the then Colo Shire Council for public recreational use.
Sandy beach fronting the Hawkesbury River in Macquarie Park, Windsor. Care must be taken when paddling or swimming in this location due to submerged objects, strong currents and deep water. Children must be supervised at all times. Cathy McHardy December 2020
Play equipment in Macquarie Park, Windsor. The park also includes toilets, spacious picnic shelters, barbecues and a cafe. Cathy McHardy December 2020
Interpretive signage Macquarie Park Windsor, December 2020.
Part of Macquarie Park was dedicated for the purpose of public recreation on 7 December 1956, with Council as Trust Manager.
Following is the wording from the sign in Macquarie Park titled “A brief History of Macquarie Park”, erected in 1996.
On 22 July 1795, Richard Turner was granted 30 acres of land on the banks of the Hawkesbury River on the proviso that the land be farmed for at least five years. In 1798, the land was taken from him because he failed to fulfil this requirement. The new owner was Lieutenant Braithwaite who, after finding life in NSW not to his liking, returned to England. On his death in 1806, he bequeathed the proceeds from the farm to an orphan school. But the orphans never saw a penny of it, as a succession of Windsor solicitors secured their interest in the farm for over 100 years. Finally, in 1930, Torrens Title was granted to Captain Edmund Lawrence Braithwaite.
During this time, two major developments had a significant impact on the site. The advent of the motor car, and the opening of Windsor Bridge in 1874, enabled large numbers of people to access the beautiful sandy beach on the river’s edge. The site became a popular picnic spot and remains so to this day. Meanwhile, a local farmer, Frank Woods continued to farm the land, which he had leased from Albert Charles Hannabis in 1912. His attempts to run cattle and horses were thwarted by constant problems due to visitors leaving farm gates open and allowing his stock to stray. Bowing to the inevitable, Frank established the Macquarie Beach Picnic Ground. The photo (on the sign) shows the bush huts constructed by Frank and his sons. If you look closely, you can see four small huts on the lower level, one small hut on the upper level (a kiosk) and another large hut that was big enough to provide shelter for 20 - 30 cars.
Image from the Windsor and Richmond Gazette 3 July 1925 looking from the southern bank of the Hawkesbury River towards Macquarie Beach with the tops of the shelter sheds protruding from the flood waters. The flood of June 1925 reached 11.36 metres submerging the picnic area, Windsor Bridge and acres of farmland.
The picnic grounds were very popular and flourished until Frank and his family were forced to leave, when the new title holder, Captain Braithwaite sold the land to Matthew Johnston in 1930. Johnston constructed Macquarie Park House in 1930 and demolished the bush huts in favour of a more modern look. Floods caused extensive damage to his improvements and he soon mortgaged the land to a Wilberforce orchardist, James Salter. In 1932, floods once again devastated the area and this mortgage was discharged. Matthew Johnston then leased the grounds to Ann & Joyce Arnold who made a considerable investment in the park by constructing six cabins on the riverbank. Yet again, floods destroyed these hopes and dreams for Macquarie Park.
Records for the next few years are difficult to trace but the story begins again in the 1960s, when Jimmy Gough leased the land from Colo Council and developed a caravan park that served the district for over 10 years. In the 1970s, Colo Council again took over the management of the area and closed the park due to flood damage to the banks. During the 1980s, Colo and Windsor Councils amalgamated to become Hawkesbury Shire Council, and undertook a series of improvements to enable Macquarie Park House to be used once again. The house was used as both a kiosk and an accommodation service for young people until a fire all but destroyed it in 1993.
After the fire, Hawkesbury City Council fully refurbished the house for use as a restaurant. The photo on the sign shows Macquarie Park House in 1997 with cafe downstairs and a popular seafood restaurant on the first floor.
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