Hawkesbury Riverboat/Sydney

Old Jan 18th, 2006, 10:57 PM
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Hawkesbury Riverboat/Sydney

Have any Fodorites enjoyed a cruise or houseboat adventure on the Hawkesbury River in northern Sydney?

Thinking of renting a 2-berth houseboat from HolidaysAfloat in Brooklyn and put-putting up the Hawkesbury to Wisemans Ferry over a long weekend next month to celebrate our anniversary.

Anyone been? Any tips?

Many thanks,
FT
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Old Jan 19th, 2006, 12:27 AM
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We've had several great houseboat weekends from Brooklyn. Easy navigation and there are restaurants like Peats Bite which are only accessed by water. Take your sunscreen, togs (or not!), hat & fishing gear, some food for the ducks, and yourselves (in case the fishing gear doesn't produce .

What a good idea for the Australia Day long weekend!
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Old Jan 19th, 2006, 03:48 AM
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Bokhara, thanks for that, just what I wanted to hear Will now confirm our booking.

(Am also hoping to get hold of Kate Grenville's "Secret River", a highly-acclaimed novel set in the early days of settlement around the Hawkesbury - double enjoyment )

Thanks,
FT
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Old Feb 28th, 2006, 05:22 PM
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Just back from an amazing houseboat adventure up the Hawkesbury River to Wisemans Ferry to celebrate our anniversary (bit like Australia Day, Bokhara but without the fireworks,

We booked the two-berth Budget 28’ from Holidays Afloat at Brooklyn, for a cost of Au$495 from Friday 2pm to Sunday 4pm, with fuel, gas, insurance, effluent pumpout and gas (stove, bbq, fridge & hotwater) extra, bringing the total costs closer to Au$600, but worth every cent.

Most of the houseboat rental companies – there are quite a few in Brooklyn – seem to tell their customers that the mouth of the Hawkesbury (‘ocean side’) is much better, with its mooring buoys, restaurants and beaches. The young bloke giving all instructions was quite taken aback when we said we wanted to go in the other direction, up to Wisemans Ferry, which drew the comment “There’s not much to see up there.” He was wrong in spades! Actually he admitted later that he’d never travelled up the river that far and didn’t know of any mooring buoys in that direction, so we’d have to use the anchor if “we thought we could manage that.” We did.

Our wee budget 28’ was comfortable and clean (supply own linen, towels etc) with a fully-equipped small galley and small bathroom with shower (and a huge window so none of the views are missed) and a covered backdeck that doubled as sitting/dining area. And of our vintage (it was our 34th) so in need of renovation but eminently serviceable! No TV or oven (tg!) but a recently-installed CD player that wafted soft blues to accompany our sundowners.

The scenery is quite breathtaking, with high pristine sandstone hills on both sides cloaked in Sydney redgums that seem to be growing on top of and out of the rocks. Birdlife is amazing, especially the bellbirds and whipbirds early in the morning, and dozens of fish jumping high out of the water at sunset. But oh, beware the jellyfish. We enjoyed just one swim (no togs, when we anchored for a coffee break – but when we continued our journey I saw dozens of what looked like tops of tree branches. I was having a grumble at the destruction of this truly wonderful habitat when I saw they were in fact giant jellyfish with stubby, gnarled tentacles gently floating just below the surface on the incoming tide. Big as serving platters – no more swims for us!

Occasional small villages dotted the feet of the cliffs, usually just a dozen houses, but for the most part we seemed to have the river to ourselves, with just the odd dinghy checking crabpots and a few families fishing. We saw just three other houseboats during our entire trip, but so much natural beauty and peaceful seclusion that it was mindboggling to know we were just 1 hour from Sydney’s CBD.

The only negative aspect was the mozzies after sunset – as we were probably the only available foodsource, there were thousands and we decked ourselves in mozzie repellent as it was so hot all windows and doors had to be open all night. We didn’t turn on any lights (apart from the anchor light), just using a small solar-powered lantern we had with us (soft-glow Zenbu) but in our celebrations, we both neglected to slather our feet in repellent and woke in the early morning mist with two sets of polkadotted feet with hundreds of bites per foot. The kookaburras laughed.

The sunsets and sunrises were magnificent, especially drifting 360o on the anchor and having the moving feast slowly rotate around you.

We didn’t leave our wee Budget for any riverfront restaurant visits, so no reviews there – but all the food we brought with us and grilled on the small bbq on the foredeck tasted better than ever in the ambiance of the open-air beauty and tranquillity around us. As did the champagne.

Took lots of pics so if anyone’s interested, can post them on a website (not the no-togs swimming with jellyfish, though!)

A highly-recommended Sydney adventure with a difference, for those who enjoy spectacular nature and seclusion and ever-changing vistas, at an affordable price.

Now planning our next adventure ..... our previous was on another of Sydney’s best kept secrets, Scotland Island. Mmmmm, Barringtons maybe?

FT


Websites: HolidaysAfloat Brooklyn
http://www.holidaysafloat.com.au/index.htm
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Old Mar 8th, 2006, 02:09 AM
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Took a while, but have finally downloaded pics of our unique houseboat adventure on a website
<"http://members.optusnet.com.au/larsjack/">

Also, did manage to get hold of and read Kate Grenville's "The Secret River" (which has such lyrical descriptions of the Hawkesbury in the days of early settlement)prior to our trip, and have included a link on the website. So much of this amazing habitat seems unchanged over the intervening centuries - a thumbnail of our past in the present.

Enjoy


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Old Mar 8th, 2006, 11:24 AM
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Hi FT,
Fabulous photos & you've re-jigged my enthusiasm for another "Hawkesbury adventure".
Thanks & happy sailing! Bokhara
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Old Mar 8th, 2006, 03:43 PM
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Thanks for that furrytiles, I grew up in that area and your photos are making me homesick.

Am reading Kate Grenville's "Secret River" right now, have you read her "The Idea of Perfection"? Its a hoot.
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Old Mar 8th, 2006, 06:07 PM
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looks good, furry t....
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Old Mar 8th, 2006, 06:32 PM
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Hi Bokhara, glad you enjoyed the pics!
Hope your next sailing 'adventure' will be as wonderful as ours was. I would certainly do it again in a heartbeat!

Watch out for those jellyfish, though.
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Old Mar 8th, 2006, 06:58 PM
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Hi Pat, looks like you migrated north from the wild Hawkesbury sandstone cliffs to the wild tropical jungles of N.Qld! (from reading other threads)

You will be right at home in 'The Secret River' then, as the trigger for this novel was Kate Grenville's great-great-great grandfather, Solomon Wiseman of Wisemans Ferry fame.

Haven't read her previous novels (on my library reading list now) but by strange co-incidence am reading Brisbane author Andrew McGahan's "The White Earth" which is focussed around first settlement of Queensland's Darling Downs. I pulled it off the shelf because I enjoyed his "Last Drinks" centred around the politics and corruption of the Joh-era, and had no idea it was another 'early settlement' saga.

Pat, I wonder, are there any historical fiction novels set in the time of the 'first settlement' of Cairns?

Happy readin 'n travelling!
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Old Jan 10th, 2007, 02:04 PM
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A great article in today's (10Jan 2007)'Sydney Morning Herald' titled "River of Life", written by Bruce Elder, which details life today on the river, it's eccentrics, the Riverboat Postman, a bit of history, and extolling it's unspoiled beauty.

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2007/...105026710.html

Will cross-post this on the Riverboat Postman thread so it's there in the archives for anyone interested in joining the postie.

Reading this article today brought back such vivid memories of our Hawkesbury adventure almost a year ago, so thank you Mr. Elder

Jackie
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