Castle Hill is a suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia approximately located 9.5 kilometers north of the Sydney central business district, located approximately 43.6km north of the Sydney International Airport.
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Castle Hill is a suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, located 30 kilometres north-west of the Sydney central business district and 9.5 kilometres north of Parramatta. It is within the Hills District region, split between the local government areas of The Hills Shire and Hornsby Shire. The land that is now called Castle Hill was originally home to the Bidjigal people, who are believed to be a clan of the Dharuk people, who occupied all the land to the immediate west of Sydney. The best-known Aboriginal person from that time is Pemulwuy, a Bidjigal leader who led the resistance movement against settlers during the Hawkesbury and Nepean Wars, including sacking farms in Castle Hill, before his eventual capture and dispatch by local law enforcement.
The Bidjigal people are today commemorated by Bidjigal Reserve which straddles the suburbs of Castle Hill, Baulkham Hills, North Rocks and West Pennant Hills.
The first European visitors to the district were led by Governor Phillip in April 1791 accompanied by an entourage. Travelling from Parramatta reaching the ‘hills’ following the Aboriginal trails, which today are overlaid by the Windsor and Old Northern Roads. As Governor he needed to find new country for settlement and farming land for crops so as to feed a struggling infant colony.
Governor King began Government Farm 3 there on 8 July 1801, referring to it as “Castle Hill” on 1 March 1802. The majority of the convicts who worked the prison farm were Irish Catholics, many having been transported for seditious activity in 1798. The most notorious incident being the Battle of Vinegar Hill where around 39 were slaughtered. They were branded “political” and exiled for life, never to return.
The first free settler in Castle Hill, a Frenchman Baron Verincourt de Clambe, in unusual circumstances received a grant of 200 acres (81 ha) in 1802. It has been suggested that locals of the time commonly referred to de Clambe’s house as “The Castle” because of the Baron’s noble status.
On Sunday night 4 March 1804, the convicts rose up as one in what was to become known as the Castle Hill convict rebellion, leading to “The Second Battle of Vinegar Hill”. Overpowering their guards, they marched towards Parramatta, having torched a hut at the prison farm as a signal to convicts at the Hawkesbury (which they either ignored or did not see). However, disciplined British troops, under the New South Wales Corp, vastly outgunned and outnumbered them. About fifteen to twenty were killed in the first skirmish at the western gates of the Governor’s Domain at Parramatta, not far from Constitution Hill. The main group headed west, pursued by the Red Coats and by a citizen militia, the Parramatta Loyal Society, under protection of martial law which comes of the Mansfield doctrine of posse comitatus. Opposite where the Rouse Hill Regional Town stands, although the exact location is lost to time, a twenty-minute skirmish happened where an unknown number were killed.
Martial law was declared across the whole of the colony and was allowed to cloak the activities of the military and their militia as convicts were deemed “to be in a state of insurrection”. Martial law continued in effect for seven days, throughout which muskets were heard by locals who wrote to King about the calamity (HR NSW). The government-controlled newspaper reported only 133 convicts were involved, but over 600 left Castle Hill in the hope of joining with another 1,100 from the Hawkesbury plains. The population of the colony at the time was around 5,000, thus the panic that beset the administration and general population. The Rev. Marsden, known as “the flogging parson”, put about his old story that all the Irish wanted to do was to rebel and secure ships to sail home in, but what they wanted was a New Ireland, a free and democratic home for all. Nine were hanged, with three left hanging dead in gibbets for many months as a reminder for all.
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