With its gateway, Brooklyn Village, only about 50 km from Sydney’s CBD, the Hawkesbury Region is a great place to escape to if you need a break from the big smoke. This region to the northwest of Sydney is named for the Hawkesbury River, which winds its way down to the coast. Unlike the beaches, you don’t need to wait for perfect, warm summer weather to enjoy everything this inland paradise has to offer. And to be sure, there are plenty of things that the region has to offer: from historic little villages to mountains, wilderness and rivers for outdoor pursuits.

Because it’s so close to Sydney, you can easily make a day trip to the Hawkesbury Region but why not hire a car and take your time exploring?

History and heritage

The Hawkesbury Region was the site of one of the earliest colonial settlements in Australia- with people of European descent moving in since 1794 to farm and produce food for nearby Sydney’s population. In 1810, New South Wales Governor Lachlan Macquarie established five towns that became known as the Macquarie Towns and they’re all in this region. The Macquarie Towns are Castlereagh, Richmond, Windsor, Pitt Town and Wilberforce.

Richmond, one of the larger Hawkesbury towns, was the site of the Battle of Richmond Hill between the settlers and the Durag people. It’s centrally located and makes a great base from which to explore the area.

Windsor is about 7 km from Richmond and has a wealth of buildings dating from the first half of the 19thcentury. Simply stroll down Moses or George Street for a trip back in time. The Hawkesbury Regional Museum is also located in Windsor. Cross the river and drive about 6 km northwards to Wilberforce or stay on the eastern side of the river and make your way to Pitt Town- about 7 km away.

Shopping and eating

There are galleries, craft stores and excellent restaurants throughout the Hawkesbury Region, so there’s no need for your credit card to feel neglected on this road trip. Naturally in this farming country there’s so much fresh produce to enjoy that you’ll never go hungry. Follow the Hawkesbury Harvest Farm Gate Trail and eat your way all the way from Hornsby to Mount Irvine. No matter what time of year, you’ll find something in season here, whether it’s juicy strawberries, cherries, citrus fruits, vegetables or nuts.

On the second and fourth Saturday of every month, Castle Hill has a Farmer’s and Fine Foods Market where you can stock up on all manner of delectable goodies too.

The great outdoors

The Hawkesbury Region gives you the perfect excuse for all that eating: You need the energy for all the active pursuits the region offers. Much of Hawkesbury consists of nature reserves, parks and conservation areas, including the famous Blue Mountains. Go canyoning, rock-climbing, mountain-biking, horse-riding or explore the region’s caves, where you may very well see glow worms.

Of course, if what floats your boat is being in or on the water, you’re in the right place too. Closer to the Blue Mountains, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for white-water rafting, especially along the creeks that make their way down towards the Hawkesbury River. The Hawkesbury itself tends to be tranquil and wide, especially towards the east, making it perfect for canoeing, water skiing and wakeboarding.

Where to stay

Throughout the Hawkesbury Region you’ll find a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets. There are motels, B&Bs, guesthouses, cottages, caravan parks and campsites- not to mention houseboats.

When to go

The Hawkesbury Region generally has hot summers and cool winters. Summer is a great time to be in the area for water sports and of course for all those summer fruits in season. Spring, autumn and winter are best for activities like bushwalking since the weather is cooler and there is a lesser risk of bushfires or storms. The region doesn’t experience snow.

In addition to a variety of annual events, there are often special events held in the region. Simply check the local listings to see what’s on, but let’s face it, you don’t really need any more excuse to visit the area- do you?