If I were to name the most beautifully and breathtaking river on Earth it would be the Hawkesbury River, an hour north of Sydney. I have travelled some of what are recognized as the greatest rivers in the world, the Rhine, the Danube, The Yangtze even the muddy Thames but the Hawkesbury… aghh the beautiful Hawkesbury shines above them all like a jewel.
Its waters glisten in the brilliant light under a southern sun and the wilderness vista’s are outstanding. The shoreline of the Hawkesbury is rugged and unique and it was here that the Australian Constitution was fashioned before it was to become constituted. It was here that men deliberated on the law of the continent, here amongst the wilderness of the Australian landscape. The sheer sandstone cliffs and dense Aussie bush of some beautiful and remote places such as the Ku-ring-gai Chase National park and the Dharug National Park which both overhang the pristine tidal flow of the river. The river travels down, draining from the Blue Mountains of the Great Dividing Range. It’s rivers and creeks meander, reaching up into the Hunter Valley and flowing finally into the ocean waters of Broken Bay. This river is still largely wild and free. It is a world that is unknown to many and its beauty realized by a relative few.
Most only glimpse the might of the Hawkesbury from the lanes of the Pacific Highway as they cruise the dark ribbon of the Motorway near Brooklyn, north of Sydney. They ride high in the wind and glimpse the islands of the Hawkesbury from a car window having travelled through the mighty sandstone cuts just north that lead into the old colonial penal settlement, now one of the greatest iconic cities on earth. This is all they usually see, as the Hawkesbury doesn’t reveal itself to everyone.
We have cruised the Hawkesbury on the Riverboat Postman and it was such a delightful day, one enjoyed with a luncheon cruise. The Skipper/Postie was a great commentator and as a local he gave us a wonderful insight to the thriving community. The community of the small settlements along the lower banks of the Hawkesbury are still very much Aussie and cosmopolitan with it. A tight knit community centred around Dangar Island and reaching into the bays and shores accessible there about. The community is scattered along the banks, mostly being refugees from society, adventurers and of a simpler bent of mind than the cities demand. Some homes have power and water, very few have roads which link them to the outer world but most would not welcome ‘progress’ too readily. It is a special and precious world in which they live. You need a boat here, a means of transport that isn’t reliant on land, such is the terrain around them and they value the difficulties in living here.
On this trip into greater Sydney we have explored the shopping precincts in the city and those within reach along the rail tracks. We have revisited the museums and galleries of the city centre, stepping the narrow streets of the Rocks and the harbourside, seeking out and enjoying the colonial architecture. We’ve revisited this, the commercial heart of Australia and had a great time discovering the delights of this city again. However it is the shores of the Hawkesbury that has this time touched our hearts. It is such a precious jewel and a unforgettable experience to be savoured.
So we turn our noses north into the warmer regions of the winter season and head up towards the equator. It is time to climb the temperature chart along with thousands of Australia’s nomads on the great winter migration of grey nomads. We’re running just a little late.
Jan is a traveller and author. You can read about her travels, or loose yourself in an ancient world in her fictional Australian novels on Aboriginal Lore. The Dreaming Series, and the Spirit Children series of tales about Aboriginal Shaman, the mystic Karadji, Kadaitcha Men and the Featherfoot of this ancient Lore.