One of Australia's most unique river systems, the Hawkesbury River and its tributaries virtually encircle the metropolitan region of Sydney. The entire system is around 600 kms long, making it the perfect recreational playground for the city of Sydney.
Though the Hawkesbury River is on Sydney's doorstep, (just 45 minutes drive from the City Centre) you can still experience the serenity of bygone days in its secluded river settlements set in the world's most beautiful and varied waterways. From crystal clear ocean swells to its tranquil upper reaches the Hawkesbury River offers a cruising ground of outstanding scenic and historic interest. Sandy beaches fringe the surrounding Hawkesbury Sandstone National Parks beckoning bushwalks and picnics ashore. Waterfront restaurants, houses on the water's edge, fishing, touring and holidaying, these are what the river is well known for.
The Hawkesbury is one of the major rivers of the coastal region of New South Wales. Much of the country through which the lower tidal reaches of the river pass is very beautiful. It is perhaps the most beautiful reach of river on the Australian continent, except perhaps for the much smaller but blazingly spectacular Katherine Gorge in the Northern Territory, or Giekie Gorge in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
Visiting the Hawkesbury River
The Hawkesbury's natural beauty has been preserved by a series of national parks and nature reserves which are home to a variety of flora and fauna. Its relatively unpolluted waterways have become a playground for boating enthusiasts and holidaymakers alike, not to mention daytrippers seeking a few hours of peace and tranqility away from the bustle of nearby Sydney.
One of the most delightful holidays Australia can provide is a leisurely few days or weeks spent cruising on the hundreds of kilometres of clear, sheltered water - from the serene upper reaches to the river mouth where Broken Bay's three long, narrow branches await exploration - Pittwater, Cowan Creek and Brisbane Water.
Ferries operate to and from various settlements, boats of all shapes and sizes from power boats to kayaks and houseboats can be hired at these locations and there are many launching places for those preferring to bring their own means of water transport.
About The Hawkesbury River
The Hawkesbury River, which forms a natural northern and north eastern boundary to the Sydney area, is the longest river in New South Wales. With over 1,100 kms of foreshore, the river and its tributaries drain over 22,000 square kilometres and is navigable for 110 kms up to the bridge at Windsor. Prior to European settlement, the Hawkesbury was home to numerous tribes of Aborigines who had been custodians of the land for 14,000 years or more. Evidence of their occupation can be seen in the thousands of camp and rock art sites which are prolific throughout the region.
The river was named in March 1788 by Sydney's first Governor, Arthur Phillip when he explored its lower reaches in search or arible land. The name honours English aristocrat Charles Jenkinson (1729-1809), created Baron Hawkesbury in 1786 and the first Lord Liverpool in 1796, who was secretary to the Treasury (1763-65), secretary at war (1778-82), and president of the board of trade (1768-1801). The Sydney locality of Liverpool was named in honour of his son who was Prime Minister of England between 1812 and 1827.
The Hawkesbury's middle floodplains were found to be good farming land and became Sydney's granary and virtual lifeline. Not only were the historic settlements on its banks the major food source for the young colony, the river itself was the highway along which produce was brought to the people of Sydney, access by road being difficult due to the rugged terrain.
How To Get There
As the Hawkesbury River encircles the Sydney Basin, there are different access points to each section of the river.
Nepean River: the upper reaches of the Hawkesbury was given the name "Nepean River" by early european explorers who did not know at the time that the Nepean and Hawkesbury Rivers were one and the same. The name 'Nepean River' is still used, and refers to that part around and upstream from the outer Sydney suburb of Penrith. Access by road is via Great Western Highway. Penrith is serviced by suburban trains on the Western Line.
Central Hawkesbury: the historic towns of Richmond and Windsor are the major settlements in the central Hawkesbury Region. Windsor Road - the main access road to the area - follows the same route pioneered by the early European settlers in the Hawkesbury region in the 1820s. Richmond and Windsor are both serviced by trains on the Sydney suburban rail network.
Lower Hawkesbury: The township of Brooklyn is the major centre for activities on the Hawkesbury River as it nears the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific Highway, which links Sydney with The Central Coast, Hunter Valley and the city of Newcastle, crosses the Hawkebury River at Brooklyn. When travelling north out of Sydney, prior to crossing the river, there is an exit to Brooklyn. Brooklyn is on the Central Coast railway line, to the north of Hornsby, however its railway station is called 'Hawkesbury River'.
Best Time To Go
Being close to Sydney, the Hawkesbury River region enjoys similar weather to the state capital. Sydney enjoys a temperate climate with warm summers and mild winters, and has more than 340 sunny days a year. Sydney's weather is moderated by its proximity to the ocean, and more extreme temperatures are recorded in the inland western suburbs and upper Hawkesbury. The summer season is from December through to February. January and February are the hottest months when the average daily maximum temperature is around 26 degrees Celsius.
Winter is mildly cool, with temperatures rarely dropping below 5 ¨ÉC in coastal areas. The coldest month is July, with an average range of 8-16.2 ¨ÉC.