Push for five Macquarie Towns to gain state heritage listing

Graham Edds and Ian Jack want the five Macquarie Towns of Richmond, where they are pictured, Windsor, Wilberforce, Pitt Town and Castlereagh to get a state heritage listing. Picture: Geoff Jones
Graham Edds and Ian Jack want the five Macquarie Towns of Richmond, where they are pictured, Windsor, Wilberforce, Pitt Town and Castlereagh to get a state heritage listing. Picture: Geoff Jones

THERE is a renewed push from local heritage experts to see the five Macquarie Towns of Windsor, Wilberforce, Richmond, Pitt Town and Castlereagh be given a state heritage listing.

Hawkesbury Council’s Heritage Advisory Committee recently put it back on the agenda, with one of the committee members saying there was a significant case for a state heritage listing.

Graham Edds, a local heritage expert, said the ways the towns were planned and laid out was historic and was an excellent reason to grant state heritage status over the them.

“It’s important because listing establishes the heritage significance of town planning, as opposed to actual buildings,” he told the Gazette.

“It was Australia's first attempt at town planning. Obviously there was Parramatta and Sydney that happened before Windsor but they weren't really planned out.”

Ian Jack, who is a colleague of Dr Edds, and has written a comprehensive history of the founding of the five Macquarie Towns. His book is called Macquarie's Towns.

He said the heritage listing on the five towns would recognise the importance of Macquarie’s work, particularly around the arrangement of the towns, which featured farming allotments in the lowlands, nearby allotments which were above the flood levels.

Dr Edds said such a listing would not affect development in the towns in any major way.

“The listing as such would not affect development within the towns, since it is a highly significant example of intangible heritage,” he said.

“There seems to have been confusion in the past such as the thought that heritage listing sterilises the listed place. This is simply not correct. Heritage listing is aimed at protecting against inappropriate proposals that could destroy the reason for its listing.”

Edds said the committee was renewing its push, after he said his reasoning fell upon deaf ears during the previous Council.

“The former Hawkesbury City Council appeared to have misunderstood the heritage listing process and the advantages that such a listing would bring for tourism in the Hawkesbury and were not particularly supportive of the proposal,” he said.

“The  current Council appears more supportive.”