Hawkesbury River, NSW
For Sydneysiders, the delightful Hawkesbury River, with its coves, beaches and secluded picnic spots, could not be more conveniently situated. This 480-kilometre river enters the sea just 30 kilometres north of Sydney at Broken Bay.
One of Australia’s most attractive rivers, the Hawkesbury was compared by English novelist Anthony Trollope to the Rhine and Mississippi. Its upper reaches are dotted with towns established in the early 19th century by Governor Lachlan Macquarie.
In 1899, an Australian capital was nearly built on the Hawkesbury headlands. To be named Pacivica, the city would have consisted of replicas of the Tower of London, Windsor Castle and other British Empire architectural icons. The monstrous scheme was scuttled and the region remains unspoiled.
Today, you can hire a houseboat and fish, go ashore to find your own little beach or explore various national parks. These include rugged Yengo National Park, stretching from the Blue Mountains foothills to the winegrowing Hunter Valley. Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park covers the river’s estuary. In peaceful Marramarra National Park, mangrove forests flourish at Big Bay, Pumpkin Point and Gentlemans Halt.
Cattai National Park has two separate sections: the historic Cattai Farm area, originally a land grant made to First Fleet assistant-surgeon Thomas Arndell, features Arndell’s 1821 cottage. In Mitchell Park nearby, rare riverine rainforest thrives. Dharug National Park offers picnic spots at Mill Creek and Hazel Dell.