With its gateway, Brooklyn Village, only about 50 km from Sydney’s CBD, the Hawkesbury Region is a great place to escape to if you need a break from the big smoke.
This region to the northwest of Sydney is named by the Hawkesbury River, which winds its way down to the coast. Unlike the beaches, you don’t need to wait for perfect, warm summer weather to enjoy everything this inland paradise has to offer. There are plenty of things that the region has to offer: from historic little villages to mountains, wilderness and rivers for outdoor pursuits.
Because it’s so close, if you have a hire car in Sydney, you can easily make a day trip to the Hawkesbury Region – so why not hire a car and take your time exploring?
The history and heritage of Hawkesbury NSW
The Hawkesbury Region was the site of one of the earliest colonial settlements in Australia. With people of European descent moving in since 1794 to farm and produce food for Sydney’s population. In 1810, New South Wales Governor Lachlan Macquarie established five towns that became known as the Macquarie Towns and they’re all in this region. The Macquarie Towns are Castlereagh, Richmond, Windsor, Pitt Town and Wilberforce.
Richmond, one of the larger Hawkesbury towns, was the site of the Battle of Richmond Hill between the settlers and the Durag people. It’s centrally located and makes a great base from which to explore the area.
Restaurants, shopping, dining and surrounds
There are galleries, craft stores, and excellent restaurants throughout the Hawkesbury Region, so there’s no need for your credit card to feel neglected on this road trip. Naturally in this farming country, there’s so much fresh produce to enjoy that you’ll never go hungry. Follow the Hawkesbury Harvest Farm Gate Trail and eat your way from Hornsby to Mount Irvine. No matter what time of year, you’ll find something in season here, whether it’s juicy strawberries, cherries, citrus fruits, vegetables or nuts.
On the second and fourth Saturday of every month, Castle Hill has a Farmer’s and Fine Foods Market where you can stock up on all manner of delectable goodies.
As much as this area is known for its outdoors and history, it also has a growing arts scene, too. The Hawkesbury Regional Museum is worth a visit to see artefacts from the region’s history, and as an added bonus, it’s free to enter. The Hawkesbury Regional Gallery is a small attraction that gives you a feel of the local artistic talent, and the Kurrajong Radio Museum is one of those spots that will genuinely surprise you with the amount of specific history in one little place.
The great outdoors
The Hawkesbury Region gives you the perfect excuse for all that eating: You need the energy for the active pursuits the region offers. Much of Hawkesbury consists of nature reserves, parks and conservation areas, up to the famous Blue Mountains.
Just check out some of the top things to do in Hawkesbury:
- Cave exploring (where you may very well see glow worms)
If what floats your boat is being in or on the water, then you’re in the right place. Closer to the Blue Mountains, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for white-water rafting, particularly along the creeks that make their way down towards the Hawkesbury River. The Hawkesbury itself tends to be tranquil and wide, especially towards the east, making it perfect for canoeing, water skiing, and wakeboarding.
Another of the famous Hawkesbury attractions is the Convict Trail. Also known as the Great North Road, this 240 km stretch was built in the 1800s by convicts to provide a path between Sydney and the Hunter Valley. Today, you can explore parts of the trail on foot (some parts are used for road traffic, which you can explore with your rental car) to see relics such as bridges, retaining walls, and culverts. Pick up a self-guide brochure from an info centre to follow this path and learn about the incredible history behind it.
Accommodation: Where to stay
Throughout the Hawkesbury Region, you’ll find a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets. There are motels, B&Bs, guesthouses, cottages, caravan parks and campsites, not to mention houseboats.
The best way to find Hawkesbury River accommodation is to book as far in advance as possible, as many Sydneysiders and other visitors from around Australia tend to nab the hotels and B&Bs in the area.
Annual events in Hawkesbury
If its attractions weren’t enough, the Hawkesbury hosts a range of annual events to spice up your itinerary, so be sure to check the local calendar to see what’s going on during your time in town.
Here’s a quick taste of some of the top events:
- Winterfest Sydney Medieval Fair (July)
- All Holden Day (August)
- Clarendon Classic (September)
- Art in Action (May)
- Collectors Plant Fair (April)
In addition to a variety of annual events, there are often special events held in the region. Simply check the local listings to see what’s on, but let’s face it, you don’t really need any more excuse to visit the area, do you?
Hawkesbury weather: The best times to visit
In short, there are no bad times to visit. Hawkesbury River weather generally means hot summers and cool winters. Summer is a great time to be in the area for water sports and of course for all those summer fruits in season. Spring, autumn and winter are best for activities like bushwalking since the weather is cooler and there is a lesser risk of bushfires or storms. The region doesn’t experience snow, so even the ‘cold’ months are still well above freezing with few rainfall days. Plus, ‘off’ seasons (spring, autumn, and winter) tend to offer fewer crowds and more affordable accommodation as well.