The Hawkesbury has something for everyone, from historic towns with World Heritage features to the beautiful Hawkesbury River. Work up an appetite with outdoor adventures such as bushwalking and water-skiing then enjoy the region’s delicious fresh produce.

Things to do

Step back in time and explore the area’s historic towns, such as Windsor. Originally named Green Hills, Governor Lachlan Macquarie renamed the town in 1810 after riverside Windsor in England. While you’re there, check out the more modern Hawkesbury Regional Gallery.

Other colonial-era towns nearby include 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.

Couple enjoying wine at Lochiel House, Kurrajong Heights

Lochiel House, Kurrajong Heights

You’ll find more colonial heritage in the area’s national parks. The Old Great North Road, otherwise known as the Convict’s Trail, is in Dharug National Park, near Wisemans Ferry. About 720 convicts laboured on the road and it’s part of the UNESCO Australian convict sites.

Convict built Great North Road in Dharug National Park

Great North Road, Dharug National Park - Credit:  Credit: Nick Cubbin - DPIE

National parks, which protect Aboriginal cultural heritage from ceremonial sites to rock art, are a big attraction of the Hawkesbury. You have the Blue Mountains National Park to the west, Yengo and Dharug to the north and Wollemi National Park to the northwest where the famous Wollemi pine – nicknamed the dinosaur tree – was discovered.

Sun setting over the Hawkesbury River, Wisemans Ferry

Hawkesbury River, Wisemans Ferry

Those who enjoy the great outdoors are spoilt for choice, with lots of options for bushwalking, cycling and boating. The Hawkesbury River winds 120km from Yarramundi in the west to Broken Bay in the east, so you can fish for freshwater and estuary species. In Yarramundi take the kids on a thrilling treetop adventure.

Girl enjoying a day on the ropes course with her family at Trees Adventure, Yarramundi

Trees Adventure, Yarramundi

Eat & drink

Since early colonial times, the region’s rich alluvial soil has supported settler farmers. This is apple territory so go fruit picking on food and wine trails, such as the Harvest Farm Gate Trail, while sweet tooths will be drawn to Bilpin’s Apple Pie Trail. For a paddock-to-plate experience that highlights the regional produce, you can’t go past the Cooks Shed.

The bounty of Bilpin’s apples makes this the place for apple cider, sample the wares at the cellar doors of Bilpin Cider and the Hillbilly Cider. If grape-based drinks are more your thing, visit Tizzana Winery and Jubilee Vineyard Estate in Ebenezer.

Jubilee Vineyard Estate, The Hawkesbury

Jubilee Vineyard Estate, The Hawkesbury

Where to stay

Accommodation ranges from campgrounds and riverside tourist parks to heritage hotels, retreats, farm stays and even houseboats along the river. Book into one of the colonial-era pubs dotted throughout the region, including the Settlers Arms Inn. Spend a romantic night or two in the beautifully restored St Josephs Guesthouse, a former colonial church. 

Discover the beauty of a slower pace of life at one of the region's relaxing retreats. Spicers Sangoma has just six luxurious suites set amongst the trees, a solar-heated infinity pool and a world-class spa. At Rusticspirit, couples will love the treetop cabins perched high on a rockface with deep spa baths and uninterrupted views.

St Joseph's Guesthouse and Function Venue in st Albans is a stunning three level stone building that was renovated from the ruins of a 160 year old church

St Josephs Guesthouse, St Albans

Getting there

The Hawkesbury is a 50-minute drive northwest of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, an hour by train from Central Station or a quick flight in a Sydney Harbour seaplane.