In the beautiful Hawkesbury explore historic towns and a World Heritage-listed convict road, taste delicious fresh produce, and cruise the magnificent Hawkesbury River. Outdoor adventures include bushwalking, mountain biking and horseriding, and discover Aboriginal rock engravings on a tour.
At the heart of the Hawkesbury is Windsor, a historic riverside town 50 minutes’ drive northwest from 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. You can explore the towns’ heritage on scenic drives, crossing the river on free car ferries. Kate Grenville’s acclaimed historical novel, The Secret River, is set in the Hawkesbury.
Since early colonial times rich alluvial soil supported settler farmers. Today savour bountiful produce on food and wine trails, such as the Hawkesbury Harvest Farm Gate Trail. For that special occasion, reserve your seats on a Sydney Harbour seaplane and fly to award-winning riverside restaurants.
You’ll discover fascinating heritage around the winding river and its tributaries, from the edge of the Blue Mountains in the west to the estuary in the east. The World Heritage walk on the Old Great North Road is in Dharug National Park near Wisemans Ferry, a lovely drive northeast of Windsor.
On bushwalking trails in spectacular national parks you’ll find intriguing Aboriginal heritage, including ceremonial sites, rock art and Dreaming stories. Muogamarra Nature Reserve is open around spring for six weekends when you can join an indigenous heritage tour to explore its secrets.
In the Hawkesbury wilderness you can go mountain biking, horseriding and 4WD touring. Other fun things to do are fishing, boating and guided kayaking tours. Houseboats are available for hire, too. There are plenty of riverside places to stay, from tourist parks to the luxury Crowne Plaza Hawkesbury Valley.
The sport of kings is a passion in the Hawkesbury, with horseracing starting in 1871. There are polo clubs as well as world-class horse studs and horseriding schools. The whole family can learn to ride horses at the Sydney Trail Riding Centre in Richmond, only 10 minutes’ drive northwest of Windsor.