Many Sydney-siders think of holidays and weekends away in far away destinations, but often they overlook what is practically on their own doorstep. The treasure on Sydney's most northern suburb has to be Brooklyn and the Hawkesbury River.
Brooklyn - Hawkesbury River - Photography by Seafarrwide
This river contains over 150 km's of navigatable fish filled river, stretching all the way from Penrith through historical Windsor, past popular Wiseman's Ferry, weaving its way past sandstone cliffs and mangrove-lined beaches littered with oyster encrusted rocky outcrops to the tranquil hamlet of Brooklyn.
I have lived in Sydney my whole life and have often driven over the Mooney Mooney Bridge marvelling at the beauty of the bushland and waterways in the area.
Recently I was invited to go on on a tour of Dangar Island with Vivy's Tours and Talks. Vivienne runs different walking tours around Sydney's north and central coast region. Dangar Island is quite popular due to its historical significance. It is part of the Hornsby local government area, only 2kms from Brooklyn and around 62kms (approx 45-60minutes drive) from Sydney or 90 minutes by public transport. A small island encompassing 29 hectares where you can only get around by foot, scooter or boat.
I arrived at Brooklyn Jetty by car and found a 4hr parking spot next to the Jetty. Brooklyn itself has a couple of nice cafes, you can easily grab a good coffee before boarding the small ferry for the 15 minute ride to the island. The ferries are privately owned and very well maintained. You can also use the water taxi service if necessary. Vivy's tour group numbers range from 6-12 people which makes it easier for talking and getting to know people. If you book with Vivy's Tours and Talks, your ticket will cost $45 - it includes the ferry service to Dangar Island and return and tea or coffee with biscuits at the historical Pavilion House.
The weather was clearing to a beautiful sunny day, with a mild ocean breeze. It felt great to be out on the water. The little ferry was fairly open, which allowed a nice breeze. No smelly fuel like you often get with a regular ferry. The interior has been whitewashed and is sparkling clean. It is a lovely scenic trip, with plenty to see.
Dangar Island is the hidden jewel of Brooklyn and one of the few suburbs on an island with very little cars if any. Rich in European, Colonial and Indigenous history. This island is relatively untouched and houses approximately 267 people. The beauty of visiting this island is the close proximity to Brooklyn Wharf. You can do your own visit to the island, but I like the idea of a guided tour. Vivienne takes groups on a leisurely walk around the island, also for a cup of tea at the heritage listed house, originally built by Henry Dangar - a famous government surveyor, pastoralist and entrepreneur who bought Dangar Island in 1864.
We arrived at the northern side of Dangar Island at a small jetty. There are no cars on Dangar Island. A few old wheelbarrows propped against the side of the path used to transport their shopping to their humble and not so humble abodes. The fastest thing you will see on the island is possibly a bush turkey running through the bush searching for lizards. Instantly you are overcome with the peaceful ambience of an island that is in no rush.
Not much further to find the entrance to 'The Pavilion' owned by writer Ann Howards. Ann has lived in the house for 41 years and fell in love with the house, the area and the history surrounding it. This cottage was once the servants quarters end of the original Henry Dangar house. The rest of the main house burnt down in 1940.
The Pavilion - Dangar Island - Photography by Seafarrwide
Ann Howards is an exceptional woman full of life and vitality, warmly welcoming us into her gorgeous cottage that overlooks the Hawkesbury River. The cottage is surrounded by beautiful greenery and flowers.
Ann Howard Author of Ten Dry Pies and othe Dangar Tales - Photography by Seafarrwide
We are taken on a tour inside the cottage and Ann regales us with some very interesting historical facts about the island, bridges and surrounding township. We were all enthralled by her depth of historical knowledge and fascinated with her story of her circumstances and how she came across the cottage. Ann has also written 4 books on the area. Her books are not only filled with historical facts but amusing and quirky tales from back then and rare photos and news clippings.
After seeing some wonderful historical photographs of Anns and enjoying a very interesting and informative talk on the history of island and the house, we were offered morning tea on the verandah overlooking more beautiful jacaranda trees and the river.
It was a lovely relaxing day out. The weather was perfect and the walk an easy one that any age can enjoy. Vivienne makes everyone feel welcome with her engaging personality and interesting facts. It is well worth booking a tour and also finding out about the other walking tours that Vivienne conducts around the Central Coast region.