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Located west of Sydney on the Hawkesbury River the suburb of Richmond was originally inhabited by the Dharug Aboriginal people before settlement by English farmers in 1794 making it the third oldest settlement in New South Wales. Originally known as Richmond Hill, the area was named by Governor Arthur Phillip in 1789 in honour of the third Duke of Richmond Charles Lennox. With severe food shortages in the colony at the time, the Hawkesbury River settlements were referred to as the food bowl of Sydney, producing much of the colony's fresh vegetables as well as the majority of grain crops in Sydney.
The farmers clearing of the land depleted the food supplies of the Aboriginal people who found themselves driven from their traditional hunting grounds and poor relations reached a peak in 1795 when troops were sent from Sydney with the specific intent of destroying the local Aboriginal population. Known as the Battle of Richmond Hill this event is remembered today in local events held during Reconciliation Week.
With the appointment of Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1811, the area of Richmond Hill was gazetted as one of the Macquarie Towns along the Hawkesbury. A rural farming community at the time, a town was surveyed on high ground away from the river bank and many good examples of colonial architecture from this time still exist today. Throughout the 1800s these Hawkesbury towns flourished, maintaining farming communities on its fringes whilst being a chosen location for the country residences of many of Sydney's elite.
The town's rich agricultural heritage had Sydney's first Agricultural College established in Richmond in 1891 and continues today incorporated into the University of Western Sydney. With farming land slowly taken for residential development given Sydney’s urban sprawl since the 1990s, Richmond no longer supports a rich farming community yet smaller pastoral pursuits still exist on the Richmond Lowlands along the Hawkesbury River making up an important part of the Hawkesbury farm gate trail.
In 1916 a military flying school was established in the plains just east of the town and the first Air Force Base in New South Wales was established in 1925. RAAF Richmond Base was home to several Australian flying squadrons during World War II and whilst no longer a combat site today, it remains an integral part of the RAAF as a base for the RAAF Air Lift Group and the majority of their transport fleet is housed there.
SSC18644: Richmond (Hawkesbury)