Feature: The Hawkesbury

Date posted: 1 Sep 2015Author: STC Production: The Secret River

"Hawkesbury River with Figures in Boat : On the Nepean" by William Charles Piguenit (1881)

The body of water that sits at the heart of The Secret River is the Hawkesbury, north of Sydney. Here are a few key facts about the mighty waterway:

  1. The river is also known as Deerubbin, which means "wide, deep water".
  2. It contains five islands (in order, heading downstream): Milson, Peat, Spectacle, Long and Dangar.
  3. It starts at the point where the Nepean River meets the Grose River, and runs for 120 kilometres to Broken Bay.
  4. Land next to the Hawkesbury has been used for thousands of years by the Darkinjung, Dharug, Eora and Kuring-gai Aboriginal people.
  5. The Hawkesbury River was named so by Governor Phillip in June 1789, after Lord Hawkesbury, the president of the Board of Trade in Britain. Three years later, further expeditions to explore the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers established that they were in fact the same river.
  6. Europeans began living along the river by 1794. 
  7. Today, parts of the river are visited daily by a river postman service, which delivers mail and supplies to hard-to-access sections of the river and is now a tourist attraction.


The Secret River, 1 Feb – 20 Feb 2016, Roslyn Packer Theatre


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Image: Hawkesbury River by William Charles Piguenit (1881)