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7th Mar 2024: Rouse Hill

This ride was doomed, right from the beginning. I had planned to take the Branch on a ride to the newly opened Amaroo Motorcycle Museum which had initially planned to open in Nov 23 but had suffered delays which kept on moving closer to my ride date. After receiving confirmation that it wouldn’t be open for my ride I changed the destination, but just down the road, Rouse Hill Farm, to coincide with St Patricks Day celebrations just around the corner. The theme of my ride was to spread awareness of an important part of Sydney’s history, the Second Battle of Vinegar Hill. The 6 riders who had joined me response was, what Battle? And when was the first Battle? All will be revealed I told them. So out to Kellyville we rode for a quick coffee first. Collectively the group told me we had got virtually every red light getting there, the traffic was dreadful. How residents put up with the Old Windsor Road every day beats me. Then a short run to the Castlebrook Cemetery at Rouse Hill to see the Second Vinegar Hill Battle Memorial there. It commemorates the uprising of about 250 Irish political prisoners and convicts of the 3rd Fleet who took on the British soldiers at now Rouse Hill in 1804 and who envisaged overrunning Parramatta, demanding a ship, and sailing home to Ireland. Instead about 30 were killed and 10 of their leaders executed the next day. The remaining convicts were severely punished, some receiving up to 500 lashes. Gov Macquarie changed the local name from Vinegar Hill to Rouse Hill to remove any memory of the ‘incident’.

The next stop was historical Rouse Hill Farm, but it was closed. I told you this ride was cursed. So we turn around and head for home, stopping in at Old Toongabbie Creek to show the group the oldest convict built steps in Australia, 1793, at the original site of the Toongabbie Government Farm.

Where was the first Battle of Vinegar Hill you ask? 1798 in Wexford County, Ireland. The leaders of that uprising against the British were either executed or punished and transported to Australia. Sound familiar? “Death or Liberty” was their cry. A cry taken up again by the Irish miners at the Eureka Stockade and I suppose there’s no need to tell you what happened there, I might need it in the future as another ride destination. I could throw in a bit about Ned Kelly and his brothers at Glenrowan, Frank Gardiner, Ben Hall and Capt Thunderbolt. Ah the Irish, always good for a story. Happy St Patricks Day!