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Butcher Boats and Colonial Rations:
The Story of Food

tour leader

Max Burns-McRuvie


Spencer, Mill Creek, Trollop Reach, Finch's Line, Gunderman, Lower Hawkesbury

time & date

09.30am - 12:30pm

7 May 2023

fitness level

Moderate with some walking up slopes and

on uneven surfaces (around 7kms)

ticket price

$30.00 - $65.00


  • Sip a colonial brew at the Hawkesbury Duck museum space on the Lower Hawkesbury River.

  • Hear Max Burns-McRuvie, expert history teller and raconteur

  • Discover the site of an original tidal mill and the stories of the floating stores and butcher boats when the river was the highway. 

  • Traverse Governor Darling’s route to the Hunter and appreciate the rigours and rations of the no three iron gang

the tour
Explore the story of food on the lower Hawkesbury with Max Burns-McRuvie engaging historyteller and interpretation expert. Our tour starts at the Hawkesbury Duck where we hear about the convict and colonial menu - wonga pigeon pie, hominy porridge, wallaby tail soup anyone?. We travel to Finch’s line one of Governor Darling’s great routes from Sydney to the Hunter, abandoned in 1829. Hear about the rigours and rations of the no 3 chain iron gang hacking out the route north amidst an abundance of native yams, tubers, figs, grapes and berries regularly eaten by the local Aboriginal people. We visit Mill Creek so named after a 1830s tidal mill where wheat and maize were ground for the convict stores and shipped to Sydney. At Trollops Reach gain insights into the butcher and bread boats - the floating stores delivering food to the communities of the lower Hawkesbury when the river was the highway.

the guide
Max Burns-McRuvie is a Sydney historian and storyteller. Over the last 12+ years he has created and conducted historical walking tours in Sydney, Barcelona and Amsterdam. His focus has been reinterpreting the age of exploration, gaining a deeper understanding of the colonial age, animating the eccentricities of the Victorian age and digging up many juicy stories from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. He holds a masters of Museum and Heritage Studies from Sydney University.

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