Monday, 4 May 2015

Hawkesbury River: Sydney's Secret Riverside Escape

Just an hour north of Sydney by train lies the quiet Hawkesbury River town of Brooklyn. Situated 57 km from Sydney's Central Station, the town of just 744 people owes its existence to the Main North Railway Line that first passed by on the shores of the Hawkesbury River in 1887.

It's not easy to get a shot of the 1903 Hawkesbury River Station, as noise divider walls and the pedestrian overpass block the brick station building. But this was my best effort on a visit back in 2010.

Stepping from the train at Hawkesbury River Railway Station you'll notice that the 1903 brick station building looks like it belongs more in a major Sydney suburb than the sleepy riverside locale. After the original Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge located just beyond view to the north of Long Island opened in 1889, the town of Brooklyn became popular with day trippers from Sydney. And so the original station building was replaced in 1903 by the over-sized brick building that has stood beside the Main North Line ever since.

The Hawkesbury River Marina is just a short walk from the railway station. Photo 2010.

Hawkesbury River today has become one of Sydney's best-kept secrets. Hop on a train at Central Station in the middle of a sea of skyscrapers, and just 1 hour later you are stepping from the train to see this.... A boaties paradise and home to a unique community that simply loves the idea of living a world away from Sydney. The Marina is just a short 100 metre walk from the railway station, and Australia's last Riverboat Postman still leaves daily from the wharf to deliver mail to the residents who live isolated from all road contact along the shores of the Hawkesbury River and on nearby Dangar Island.

If you like trains, keep your camera handy when you order a cappuccino. Trains of all types pass by every 15 minutes along the NSW Main North Line, such as this Pacific National freight I shot in 2010.

Grabbing a seat on the outdoor deck of the Hawkesbury River Marina provides a fantastic location to enjoy a cappuccino and an hour or two of watching trains skirt along the edge of the Long Island causeway. The Main North Line is the rail gateway into Sydney from the north and north-west of New South Wales, and also doubles as the busy Central Coast and Newcastle commuter line. Barely 15 minutes will go by without seeing a train pass by in either direction.

Could this be the best train watching location in Australia? Sitting back on the deck of the Hawkesbury River Marina with a coffee while watching trains pass by, 2010.

A long lunch by the Hawkesbury River makes for a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Australia's largest city. And if like us, you are needing to pass some time before checking into your Sydney accommodation, this picturesque sleepy riverside village makes for the perfect escape. If you'd like all the tips on how to see some of greater Sydney's best locations by train, then download my 99 cent eBook Train Tripping Around Sydney. It will turn an ordinary train trip into a real railway adventure of your own. Who knows? You may even discover some secrets of your own in this secret Sydney riverside escape.

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