Aside from more formal activities held for the celebrations, we were actively supported by local businesses. Giving a nod to the Island’s place in history, The Riverboat Postman and Rick Stockley’s historical Banksia welcomed visitors to the Hawkesbury River with special river tours around Dangar Island viewing various bridge construction sites and providing some understanding of the isolation of surrounding river communities – both then and now. Historical commentary by Dave Reynolds brought to life details of the bridge’s construction and made visitors aware of its importance in moving our State towards Federation in 1901.
To complement these on-water activities, Brenda and Phillip entertained our visitors with walking tours of the Island. These tours included activities along the way that brought history to life with specially written stories recreating life at the time.
An historical address was given by Ian Thom, Chairman of the Henry Parkes Foundation and grandson of Sir Henry Parkes. At the time of the bridge opening, Sir Henry Parkes was New South Wales Premier and later went on to become the Father of Federation. In the celebrations of May 1889, the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge was declared open by the Governor Lord Carrington, however Sir Henry Parkes also spoke at this historical event. Ian Thom kindly showed us the pocket watch his grandfather had worn on the day of these celebrations.