Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Hills Shire gears up for 1804 convict rebellion anniversary

Next month marks 220 years since one of the most significant events in Australia’s history – when the redcoats and convicts clashed during a major uprising in the middle of Sydney’s Castle Hill.

The 1804 convict uprising will take place again as part of an immersive battle re-enactment at Heritage Park in Castle Hill on Saturday 2 March, to commemorate this significant moment in history. 

The FREE event will depict the moment when Irish convicts escaped from the Castle Hill Government Farm. The farm used to be a prison for convicts from England and Ireland to serve out their sentences.

This breakout eventually led to the Battle of Vinegar Hill, which was fought between Irish convicts and the British Army in Rouse Hill, marking the first convict uprising in Australia’s history.

The event has been put together by the Hills District Historical Society in partnership with the Castle Hill Heritage Park Advisory Committee and with the support of The Hills Shire Council.

Pam Wilson from the Hills District Historical Society said the anniversary event, which also includes history tours, children’s activities, live music and a barbecue, will allow residents to learn more about the region’s early colonial history.

“It was the first and only time that Martial Law was declared in the Colony of NSW. It was also the first European rebellion against the Government. The next rebellion was 50 years later in Ballarat, Victoria, at the Eureka Stockade, where the password was ‘Vinegar Hill’,” Ms Wilson said.

“This is a very important moment in our history, and I believe it’s a wonderful opportunity for residents, school children, history buffs and visitors to learn more about it.”

Mayor of The Hills Shire, Dr Peter Gangemi highlighted the significance of the commemoration as an opportunity to reflect on the pivotal moment in NSW history, particularly in the early years of The Hills Shire’s establishment.

“The planned commemorations allow us to reflect on a significant moment in history – the rebellion launched by Irish convicts in an attempt to overthrow the NSW Corps [British Army] and return back to their homeland. I encourage our local residents to attend these commemorations which will share the story of this historic event,” Mayor Gangemi said.

Elaine White from the Castle Hill Heritage Park Advisory Committee said there were many new residents living in The Hills, and this was a great opportunity for them to discover more about their new home.

“It’s important to us as locals, as well as so many newcomers to this district who don’t know our history or how Castle Hill started,” Ms White said. 

In addition to the March 2 event, Ms Wilson will hold a special talk at Castle Hill Library on Friday 1 March at 11.15am.

The talk includes the history of the 1798 Rebellion in Ireland, the Castle Hill Rebellion, the Battle of Vinegar Hill and the use of the name Vinegar Hill in the local area.

To learn more about the re-enactment or to book the talk, visit The Hills Shire Council’s website and search for ‘220th Anniversary of the 1804 Rebellion’.


When: Saturday March 2 between 4pm-8pm

Where: Heritage Park in Castle Hill

Activities: History tours, old-fashioned children’s activities, live music, barbecue, coffee, ice cream and information stalls. Live blank shots will also be fired as part of the re-enactment

What to bring: Picnic blanket, hat, sunscreen and your family and friends

Cost: Free entry.

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