In the beautiful Hawkesbury explore historic towns, discover a World Heritage convict road, taste delicious fresh produce and cruise the splendid Hawkesbury River. Enjoy great outdoor adventures too, from bushwalking, horseriding and mountain biking to fishing, kayaking and waterskiing.
At the heart of the Hawkesbury is Windsor, a historic riverside town 50 minutes’ drive northwest of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and an hour by train from Central Station. Originally named Green Hills, Governor Lachlan Macquarie renamed the town in 1810 after riverside Windsor in England.
Other historic towns are Kurrajong, Richmond, Pitt Town, Ebenezer, Wilberforce, Wisemans Ferry and St Albans. Australia’s oldest church is in Ebenezer. You’ll find sandstone pubs built in colonial times, and on scenic drives in the hinterland you can cross the meandering river on free car ferries.
National parks with UNESCO World Heritage status cradle the Hawkesbury. The Blue Mountains National Park to the west, Yengo and Dharug national parks to the north and Wollemi National Park to the northwest where the famous Wollemi pine – nicknamed the dinosaur tree – was discovered.
There are many opportunities for bushwalking, cycling and boating. Fishing is popular and with the river winding 120km from Yarramundi in the west to Broken Bay in the east, you can cast a line for freshwater and estuary species. In Yarramundi take the kids on a thrilling treetop adventure.
In the national parks is fascinating heritage. The parks protect Aboriginal cultural heritage, from ceremonial sites to rock art. The Old Great North Road convict trail is in Dharug, near Wisemans Ferry, and is part of the UNESCO Australian convict sites. About 720 convicts laboured on the road.
Since early colonial times the rich alluvial soil supported settler farmers. Today savour bountiful produce and go fruit picking on food and wine trails, such as the Harvest Farm Gate Trail. For that special occasion, you can fly in a Sydney Harbour seaplane to award-winning riverside restaurants.
Accommodation ranges from campgrounds and riverside tourist parks to heritage hotels, retreats, farm stays and the luxury Crowne Plaza Hawkesbury Valley. You can even hire houseboats. When on your short break or sojourn, check out the wonderful Hawkesbury Regional Gallery’s art exhibitions.