Hawkesbury River Activities
Memorable ways to enjoy the beautiful Hawkesbury River include houseboat holidays, river cruises, kayaking and picnics as well as fishing and boating. You’ll find all these wonderful activities and much more in the Hawkesbury, as the river meanders past historic towns and magnificent national parks.
The river begins at the confluence of the Nepean and Grose rivers near Yarramundi, just west of Windsor, the third British colonial settlement in Australia. The waterway runs to its mouth at Broken Bay where it flows into the sea. Tidal influences reach as far as the upper Hawkesbury River. Once described by a colonial judge as the ‘Nile of New South Wales’, the tranquil waters are perfect for a weekend escape or short break. A wonderful way to relax and soak up the natural beauty of the river is a houseboat holiday.
Cast a line for fish along the river and tributaries. Near the river mouth bream, snapper, mulloway, tailor and whiting all bite. There are boat ramps at various locations, including Governor Phillip Park in Windsor and Wisemans Ferry.
Kayaking is a lovely way to enjoy the river. You hire kayaks from Hawkesbury Kayaks at Wisemans Ferry. Or join a guided kayak tour with Southern Cross Kayaking. Kayak tours depart from various locations, including Windsor and Cattai National Park.
For thrill seekers, the Hawkesbury is a popular waterway for a range of thrilling water sports. Waterskiing, wakeboarding and tubing are just a few of the fun activities. The Bridge to Bridge Water Ski Classic is a prestigious race from Broken Bay to Windsor. The annual race was first held in 1961.
Food & Farms
The beautiful Hawkesbury near Sydney is a delicious adventure, from orchards and vineyards to farm gates and farmers’ markets. On scenic harvest trails in the rural hinterland discover roadside stalls, gourmet treats and artisans making apple cider and wattleseed gin.
Farms prosper in the fertile soil, producing fresh fruits and vegetables. The Hawkesbury Harvest Farm Gate Trail is a deliciously enticing way to savour the delights. Depending on the season, you can even pick your own fruit at some orchards, such as the Anderson Farm, which grows mandarins.
The Bells of Line of Road begins in historic Richmond, one of the Hawkesbury towns established by Governor Macquarie in 1810. On the scenic alternative route to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains is Bilpin, a small town famous for the apples grown in the surrounding orchards.
This is apple cider territory. You can visit the cellar doors of Bilpin Cider and the Hillbilly Cider Shed in Bilpin and taste a scrumptious range of locally made ciders from hand-picked local apples, including Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Red Delicious varieties. There are tasty ciders without alcohol, too.
The natural beauty of the Hawkesbury is perfect for picnics with family or friends. Browse produce and treats for your hamper at the Richmond Good Food Market, in Richmond Park on Saturdays. There are tasty dining experiences in the region too, such as the paddock-to-plate Cooks Co-op.
From bushwalking and camping to horseriding and mountain biking, the beautiful Hawkesbury is perfect for great outdoor adventures. Explore a World Heritage walking track and discover spectacular panoramic lookouts. And the tranquil river is a shimmering jewel for fishing and boating.
The young and young at heart will be thrilled soaring on zip-lines at the Trees Adventure Grose River Park, in the upper Hawkesbury at Yarramundi, where the meandering Hawkesbury River begins at the confluence of the Nepean and Grose rivers. Kids as young as four can be daring on flying foxes.
The natural beauty of the region is perfect for horseriding. The Hawkesbury Valley Equestrian Centre in Yarramundi offers guided bush trail rides as well as private and group riding lessons. Or if you have your own horse, the Scheyville National Park near historic Windsor has 12km of horse trails.
For vistas of the Hawkesbury River and the sylvan Dharug National Park, Hawkins lookout is near Wisemans Ferry. After gazing at the natural splendour, cross the river on the free car ferry for the short drive to the national park where you’ll find the UNESCO Old Great North Road walking trail.
Colonial heritage in the Hawkesbury is exceptional, from a Georgian town square and Australia’s oldest church to a convict-hewn sandstone pub and a pioneer village of 19th century buildings. The remnants of the convict-built Old Great North Road, a World Heritage site, are near historic Windsor.
You’ll discover a vibrant cultural scene too, from arts festivals to markets, music, small galleries and rolling exhibitions in the Hawkesbury Regional Gallery. The fine gallery collection includes works by Lloyd Rees, Arthur Boyd, Norman Lindsay, Ben Quilty and Izabela Pluta, to name just a few artists.
A great way to explore the river, and enjoy tasty food, is on the Hawkesbury Paddlewheeler, which recreates cruises of the 1800s when sailing ships and steamboats navigated the waterway. You’ll find riverboat insights and other colonial and Aboriginal history in the Hawkesbury Regional Museum.
Immerse yourself in colonial life with a visit to the Australiana Pioneer Village in Wilberforce, north of Windsor. A collection of colonial cottages and shops include the 1811 Rose Cottage and the 1862 Atkins Blacksmith Shop, which still operates. There are cafes, carriage rides and miniature train rides.
How about a weekend escape or short break staying in heritage? There are colonial-era pubs dotted throughout the region, such as the 1836 Settlers Arms Inn, made of convict sandstone. Or spend a romantic night or two in the beautifully restored St Josephs Guesthouse, a former colonial church.