Commemorating the Great Flood of 1867

Hawkesbury City Council and the local community will mark the anniversary of the June 1867 Great Flood with various events and activities around Thompson Square, Hawkesbury Regional Museum and Howe House from Friday, 23 June through to Sunday, 25 June. See the Program of Events below.

The Mayor of Hawkesbury, Councillor Mary Lyons-Buckett believes it is a chance for the community to “embrace our Hawkesbury heritage, and to learn about the history and reality of flooding, which is so relevant in the Hawkesbury”.

“I feel a real sense of empathy for our past community members who were devastated by the danger, sadness and loss experienced during and after the1867 flood,” the Mayor said.

“It is important to acknowledge what happened during this natural crisis, and with many of our residents being descendants of people who suffered in that time, there are many stories to share.

“As well as looking at the history of the 1867 flood, we will fast forward to the present day and explore how we can inform and prepare ourselves for future flooding.”

Although there have been many floods since European settlement, there has still been nothing in the Hawkesbury that compares with the 1867 flood, which had a recorded peak flood level of over 19 metres at Windsor Bridge.

The 1867 flood extended from Riverstone to the foothills of the Blue Mountains - areas that were never affected previously were covered with water, and houses and livestock were destroyed. Twelve members of the Eather family lost their lives in the flood when they were swept from the roof of a house in Cornwallis.

Long droughts followed by high rainfalls led the Hawkesbury to experience 27 floods in the 19th Century.

A lot of new settlers put their homes and farms close to the riverbanks. During times of flood, this resulted in the loss of human life, housing, livestock and crops. Hundreds of people lost their homes and were made destitute. Agriculture in the Hawkesbury also suffered heavy losses as stock and crops were swept away.

In the 20th Century, three significant Hawkesbury floods were recorded (15.1 metres flood level in 1961, 14.5 metres in 1961 and 14.3 metres in 1978).

For more information about Hawkesbury floods, visit Hawkesbury Regional Museum’s current Flood! Exhibition; look up historic newspaper accounts on Trove and refer to local historian Michelle Nichols’ book, Disastrous decade: flood and fire in Windsor 1864-1874 (Deerubbin Press, 2001).

Infrastructure NSW has launched Resilient Valley, Resilient Communities - the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley Flood Risk Management Strategy which is available here.

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