I've been working on this project since 2013, although my interest in local history and my family tree began in the 1980s. One of the key features of this website is to remember the names of those who descend from Hawkesbury convict and free settler families, but also to recall their stories through newspaper articles and family stories.

This website also aims to discuss their relationships with the local landscape, the ways in which villages and towns have been created. It is a work in progress! Below is an excerpt from my postgraduate thesis on institutional landscapes. I have included it to spark some questions about history and the way it is interwoven with our social and physical environments.

What do we gain by studying history? Firstly we gain a sense of identity, an understanding of how past events have impacted where we are today. Then we come to the realisation that there is no correct interpretation of the past as all of our experiences of it are different. At some stage we may make the connection between societies and landscape and how this shapes history.

Anthropologist Julian Steward asserts that society is conditioned by the surrounding natural environment. From this cultural ecology perspective, proponents argue that there is a constant and dynamic relationship between human society and its environment. Its advocates look to the environment for explanations of human behaviour: ‘Nature is mutually reflexive in its own rapport to human beings. It serves to shape a human consciousness about emplacement, about the workings of the human body and provides a reflection against what human imagery of the self, at individual and social levels, can be mapped and experience.’ (Lovell 1998: 9). 
Hood (1996:1) suggests that landscapes are cultural because they physically embody the history, structure and contexts of human behaviour in such a way that they are not easily separated from each other. ‘Any understandings of the physical landscape, therefore, cannot be separated from the culture of the people who utilise it.’ 

According to Atkins (1997) landscape is a term that can be expressed in a variety of ways such as scenery, terrain, nature, topography, place, location, artefact, space and habitat. This is reiterated by Bender (1993) who says that landscapes have to be contextualised, that the way in which people understand and engage in their worlds will depend upon the specific time and place in which they live. Bescherer (1990) also suggests a cultural ecology outlook, by saying that we cannot understand the concept of landscape unless we look closer at the broader relationships and associations within it.

Landscapes are not just the earth we stand on or the vistas before us. Landscapes can be cultural, they can be manipulated to enforce gender roles, they can be formal or unplanned, they be a refuge and they can marginalise. They can be carceral and institutional, they can reproduce social identities and be manifestations of changing social relations: ‘It is also possible to argue that landscapes are not just passive objects that lie silently waiting for successive human imprints. In a sense, they are active participants in channelling socio-economic evolution because they set the physical and psychological constraints within which people must act.’ (Atkins 1999: 224)

Landscapes are dynamic, ever changing to fit the social framework in which we place them.  I am interested in institutional landscapes and how social “difference” can be understood in terms of spatial separation. In many ways I take a Marxist approach and see that land use and landscapes are products of social forces:
Other landscapes or indeed familiar landscapes are in a sense created out of the prejudices, preconceptions and simplifications that we carry in our heads. In turn these representations may be naturalised by society and accepted without question. They then become the basis on which subsequent generations forge their identities.’ (Atkins 1999: 222)

I update this site as much as I can. I have not yet covered every family. If you find an error in your family's name, date etc I am happy to correct. 
Tracey Hawkins. 2022