Driving through the ‘Macquarie Towns’ of the Hawkesbury River region is a history lesson of the early colonial years. Settled in the early 1800s by free settlers, there’s not a lot left that points to the early settlement apart from a few buildings in the Australia Pioneer Village in Wilberforce. Rose Cottage, the oldest timber slab cottage in Australia, is still standing on its original site and is surrounded by the original houses relocated from other towns. Head further along the river to find the fascinating Ebenezer Church, cemetery and schoolhouse, and what’s left of an ancient gum tree, which was the former place of worship for the locals before the church was built. The Church was built in 1803 and is the oldest operating church in Australia. It’s tiny, and the British and Australian flags behind the altar remind me where we, as a nation, began. The adjacent schoolmaster’s residence (circa 1810) was built for very small people who weren’t afraid of steep ladder-like stairs and has some interesting tidbits such as furniture, photos and records of the early settlers. This is also where you order a very simple but delicious Devonshire Tea that’s taken at one of the outdoor tables in the paved garden. The scones are made just like nanna’s, using a simple but tried and tested recipe producing light and fluffy scones. The cream is whipped thick and the jam is nothing flash but definitely not the sickly sweet synthetic kind. Wander the pretty grounds down to the shoreline of the Hawkesbury River and stroll through the cemetery that dates back to 1812.
Tea: A standard black tea (tea bag) served in a small pot. Ask, and the volunteer will pull out a box containing a variety of tea bags, that by the sounds of things, rarely gets pulled out. My green tea is served in a small cup.
Overall: A step back to yesteryear.
Location: Ebenezer Church, 95 Coromandel Rd, Ebenezer NSW 2756 Ph: 02 4579 9235 www.ebenezerchurch.org.au
Reviewed June, 2015