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River Cruise


9am - 1pm



Be taken back in time into Dyarrubin history on a cruise with a difference.


Hear the lesser known histories of the lower Hawkesbury River evoked through historical fiction, indigenous writing, and storytelling . 

Step ashore at Gentlemans Halt for a special evocation of place.


Light lunch of Thai finger food ashore in Spencer

Symposium and river cruise can be purchased together. 

Combined tickets at 10% discount


History | Indigenous Writing | Storytelling 

* Uncovering the lost history of resistance along the Hawkesbury waterways from Pittwater to Windsor
from the foremost expert on the frontier wars
* Visit the site of 'Branch Jacks' attack near the mouth of Mangrove Creek 

* Step ashore at Gentlemans Halt for lived history from a former inhabitant of the
two-storey sandstone house known as Bowles Cottage

* Listen to indigenous historical fiction evoking life on the river in the 1830s

* Hear why boats were forbidden in the early colony and how Mangrove Creek became the epicentre of boatbuilding.

*Stories of bolters, bushrangers and ticket-of-leave farmers hidden in the landscape

Light lunch in the Thai Garden in the the Spencer village 

Numbers are strictly limited due to boat capacity. First in best dressed !

Contested Waterways

Our exploration starts onboard with Dr Stephen Gapps uncovering the hidden histories of contested waterways at the edges of settlement. Aboriginal people along the Hawkesbury region used rivers, creeks and waterways as places of refuge and survival after the devastation of colonisation as well as in resistance warfare.  Hear how from 1788 to 1810 there were numerous raids conducted in canoes, as well as attacks by Aboriginal warriors on British vessels, especially along the Hawkesbury River - a perfect, isolated place to conduct ambushes! Stephen will talk about several encounters and conflicts in the 1790s and early 1800s that occurred from Pittwater to Windsor.  We visit the site where an attack took place at Mangrove Point led by Branch Jack, renowned to the new arrivals as 'the leader and chief' of the Hawkesbury warriors. 


Stephen Gapps

Stephen Gapps is an historian working to bring the Australian Frontier Wars into broader public recognition. He is currently employed as an Historian at Artefact Heritage and also works as a consultant historian. Stephen is a conjoint Lecturer in History at the University of Newcastle, an Adjunct at Charles Sturt University and current President of History Council of New South Wales. His 2018 award winning book 'The Sydney Wars – Conflict in the early colony 1788-1817' is followed by 'Gudyarra: The First Wiradyuri War of Resistance, the Bathurst War 1822-182' in 2021.


Stories of Place

Stepping ashore at ‘Gentlemans Halt’ Julie Janson presents an important era in Australia’s history from an Aboriginal perspective. Reading a chapter from her novel 'Benevolence' set in the year 1830 Julie tells the story of Darug woman Muraging (Mary James) and her time spent around the river including her stay at Gentlemans Halt. Julie talks about the art and craft of historical fiction writing and recounts her experience living in the only surviving building on site known as Bowles Cottage, an experience she has drawn from in her writing.

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Julie Janson

Julie is a Burruberongal woman of Darug Aboriginal nation. She is a novelist, playwright, and poet. Her novel: 'Benevolence' published by Magabala 2020 - also published by Harper Collins in USA and UK in 2022 - nominated for NIB Literary Award 2020 and Voss Literary Award. Indigenous crime novel 'Madukka the River Serpent' UWAP 2022, longlisted Miles Franklin Award 2023. Novel 'Compassion' to be published March 2024 Magabala. Playwright productions at Belvoir St Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Sydney Opera House, Makassar Sulawesi and Arizona. Oodgeroo Noonuccal Poetry Prize 2016, Judith Wright Poetry Prize 2019.


River Traders, Settlers and Bolters

Cruising upstream see history from the water as we cruise towards the site of Singleton's tidal mill, Peter Hibbs land grant given for a pig run and where ochre was mined for a paint factory. Our expert history-teller shares stories of chain gangs, bushrangers, bolters and spooked settlers in this remote area of the Lower Hawkesbury. Passing rock shelters and old wharves Max brings the past alive reimagining  when the river was the highway in the days of the floating stores, butcher and bread boats. 


Max Burns-McCruvie

Max Burns-McRuvie is a Sydney based historian and storyteller. Over the last 12+ years he has created and conducted historical walking tours in Sydney, Lower Hawkesbury River, 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.


Light lunch in the Thai Garden

Step ashore at Spencer for a light lunch specially prepared by the chef of Spencer Thai, Mr One. Join us in the ambiance of the Thai garden for authentic Thai finger food and noodles.


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