Community gathers in flood remembrance

The Hawkesbury witnessed a special community gathering at Thompson Square, Windsor on the weekend for the commemoration of the 1867 flood 150 years on – the highest-ever recorded flood in local history.

Locals found themselves in a "vibrant and moving atmosphere” amid music, performers and storytelling, according to the Mayor of Hawkesbury, Councillor Mary Lyons-Buckett, who joined the community along with several Hawkesbury Councillors.

“It’s wonderful to see our community’s support for our 1867 flood commemoration – thank you all for coming along – it helps us all feel that, together, we can meet any challenge,” Mayor Lyons-Buckett said.

“I want to especially thank Olivia Leal Walker who was our Master of Ceremonies on Friday night.

“Olivia is a former Hawkesbury Showgirl and an amazing young woman who led us through the Thompson Square proceedings,” she said.

“I was a captive member of the audience during Uncle Wes’ Dreamtime stories around the campfire at the Howe House garden, and Erin Wilkins delivered the Welcome to Country. Our Aboriginal people have so much knowledge, and it’s wonderful to see us all getting together to talk and learn more about floods.

“The narration by Aaron Jeffery brought the feeling of local residents of the day close to us, and kept them in our hearts and minds, as we considered the great damage that is often inflicted by natural disasters such as floods,” the Mayor said.

“We all felt a strong sense of unity as we contemplated the real fear experienced by past residents during the 1867 flood.”

Eather descendant, Divinia Eather, read two poems at the Flood commemoration and sung a self-penned song about floods. Divinia was also present with her family, Councillors and community members, at the unveiling of a new memorial sign at Cornwallis for the Eather family members – 10 children and two mothers who were swept away in the dark of night from their rooftop. In memory of the 20 residents lost in the 1867 flood, Eather family descendants also held a well-attended community dinner.

State Emergency Services (SES) and Infrastructure NSW (INSW) also put on displays, and the Mayor thanked them for their involvement on Friday and the weekend, and for the preparation in the lead up to the event.

“The talks by SES Regional Controller Peter Cinque and Infrastructure NSW’s Executive Director, Maree Abood were particularly insightful and educational. Council will continue raising awareness within the community about the risks of flooding and the importance of being prepared for future flooding,” she said.

Australian Pioneer Village members added to the spirit of the occasion, by dressing in heritage clothes and putting on a heritage display that included a lady spinning wool and even a roaming Magistrate with a whip and stocks - just in case, of course.

St Matthews Catholic Church and St Mathews Anglican Church, both at Windsor,also joined in the flood commemoration with church services and educational talks.

The Award-winning FLOOD! exhibition remains on display at Hawkesbury Regional Museum, 8 Baker Street Windsor. See Council’s website www.hawkesbury.nsw.gov.au for opening hours or call the Museum on 4560 4655. Entry is free.

A free display by Infrastructure NSW called FLOOD! – Implications For The Present – can also be visited daily during library hours until Thursday, 31 August at Hawkesbury Central Library, Deerubbin Centre, 300 George Street, Windsor.

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