Lachlan Macquarie in West Wollongong

Yesterday morning I went to the nearby Keiraview Uniting Church to hear my former Wollongong High colleague Ron Hill talk about Governor Lachlan Macquarie.

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Ron, a member of the Illawarra Historical Society, gave an insightful talk on conditions in NSW at the time Macquarie arrived and what he (and his wife) accomplished during his not uncontroversial tenure. That he is sometimes called the “Second Founder” of the colony is well merited.

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Ron speaking yesterday

Ron is also mentioned in this April 2010 article from The Illawarra Mercury:

757490The view has altered dramatically in the past 200 years, but the reaction of first-time visitors to the sight of the Illawarra from the lofty heights of the escarpment has changed little.

So taken was he with the contrast between rugged mountain ridge and pristine coast, Governor Lachlan Macquarie gushed of the visual feast in his journal during a two-day visit in January 1822.

Describing a "grand, magnificent bird’s eye view" and a mountain "clothed in the largest and finest forest trees … in the colony", Macquarie’s may be the first account of the region from a tourist’s perspective.

A celebration to honour the 200th anniversary of Macquarie’s swearing-in as governor of the Colony of NSW was held at the Old Court House in Wollongong last night, coinciding with the 30th annual National Trust Heritage Festival.

Featuring food, costumes and guest speakers, the evening transported attendees back to the tough old days, when Wollongong was little more than a smatter of farming properties.

Using maps and copies of the Governor’s diary, Ron Hill of the Illawarra Historical Society recounted the governor’s brief visit in 1822.

"In the years since the First Fleet, the Illawarra had seen a couple of explorers and government surveyors, a handful of farmers running their cattle on our pastures … but Governor Macquarie may have been our very first tourist," he said.

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Lachlan Macquarie

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